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Computers in Industry 20 (1992) 255-269 255

Information technology and structural
change in the paper and pulp industry
Some technological, organizational and managerial implications
Jukka Ranta, Martin Ollus
Technical Research Centre of Finland, Laboratory of Electrical and Automation Engineering, Espoo, Finland
Anneli Leppiinen
The Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland
Received August 23, 1991
Accepted October 9, 1991
The paper and pulp industry has experienced a structural
change during the last 15 years. The products have differenti-
ated and completely new paper types have been introduced.
The standard and classical products, like news print paper,
are often specialized and customized versions from the stan-
dard product in order to fulfill the specific needs of different
printing processes better. These changes have impacted on
the production organization and structures of enterprises. The
key companies have acquired more production capacity in
different countries and have become really international com-
panies. These trends are likely to continue. One of the tech-
nological driving forces has been the applying of information
technology. The digital process automation systems as well as
the mill wide information systems have been strategic tools
and technological corner stones in the structural change.
However, it is not only technology which matters. Also new
organisational forms as well as new implementation methods
of systems are needed.
Keywords: Automation; Paper and pulp industry; Integrated
information systems; Mill wide systems; Systems
design; Technology management; Organizational
changes; Work design; Training
Correspondence to: Dr. Martin Ollus, Technical Research
Centre of Finland, Laboratory of Electrical and Automation
Engineering, P.O. Box 34, 02151 Espoo, Finland.
1. Int roduct i on
The paper and pulp industry is often regarded
as a mature industry, where the products and
production are stable, and the main competition
between companies is simply a price and cost
competition. Although the paper and pulp indus-
try shows many features of a mat ure industry and
it is moreover a typical capital intensive process
industry, it has experienced a dynamic change, in
which the interaction between products, produc-
tion, and organization has been a critical driving
force in competition.
Therefore, the paper and pulp industry has
some special features, which have to be analyzed
in order to understand the future competition,
differentiation in products and production pro-
cesses, the role of different organizational forms
of competition, and especially, the role of infor-
mation technology in the structural change. In
this paper, the focus will be on paper making and
pulp processes are only considered in relation to
paper making. The key focus will especially be on
the writing and printing paper sector, because
this sector can be used as an interesting example
of a dynamic change.
0166-3615/92/$05.00 @ 1992 - Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. All rights reserved
256 State-of-the-Art Computers in Industry
As in any capital intensive process industry,
also in t he paper industry t he high t echni cal
availability and t he high capacity utilization rate
are critical for economi c success and t he compet i -
tive power of a single company. The hi gh capital
intensity also means t hat renewal i nvest ment s
requi re a lot of money, and are, t herefore, real-
ized rat her seldom. Radi cal process i nnovat i ons
are also rat her rare, which is due to t he long
devel opment time, and t he high economi c and
commerci al risk.
However, t he paper and pul p i ndust ry has
faced some changes in t he business envi ronment .
These changes have forced t he industry t o re-
spond in a dynamic "way. First of all, wood and
energy are - at least in t he Scandinavian coun-
tries - rare and expensive product i on factors.
Secondly, envi ronment prot ect i on has become a
critical issue in t he sel ect i on of pr oduct i on pro-
cesses. These const rai nt s and boundary condi-
t i ons have, of course, forced us to look for techni-
cal solutions, which aim at a compensat i on for or
t he very effective use of t he expensive resources.
Aut omat i on and i nformat i on technology in gen-
Jukka Ranta graduated from Helsinki
University of Technology where he
obtained his MSc in 1973, his PhD in
1976 and his Doctor of Technical Sci-
ences in 1982 in Systems Theory and
Computer Sciences. Since 1979 he has
worked at the Technical Research
Center of Finland, Laboratory of
Electrical and Automation Engineer-
ing, where he is Research Professor
in Production Automation. He has
guided several research and industrial
development projects related to au-
tomation technology and application of automation in differ-
ent industrial sectors. His scientific interests include eco-
nomics, managerial and organizational impacts of industrial
automation. He is a member of the International Steering
Committee for the global research program IMS (Intelligent
Manufacturing Systems).
Martin Ollus graduated from Helsinki
University of Technology where he
i ~ obtained his MSc in 1969 in Control
Theory and Elech-onics. Since 1972
he has been with the Technical Re-
search Centre of Finland, Laboratory
of Electrical and Autromation Engi-
neering, where he is Head of th~ Au-
tomaton Systems Section. He has been
in charge of several research and
~i product development projects in the
~ automation field. His main scientific
i nt eres t s are in rol e o f i nf or mat i on
technology in industrial automation. He is especially dealing
with the problems of flexibility and customeroriented produc-
tion in the process industry.
eral have been very i mpor t ant single t echni cal
tools bot h in improving t he efficiency of pro-
cesses and in decreasi ng t he envi ronment al im-
pacts of t he processes. On t he ot her hand, t he
above const rai nt s have l ed t o choose (or to de-
vel op) pr oduct s and pr oduct i on processes whi ch
can make critical const rai nt s t o be less critical.
In t he pri nt i ng and writing paper s t he classical
pr oduct cat egori es experi enced a rapi d differenti-
ation process due to t he active devel opment in
t he late 60s and early 70s. A wide variety of
coat ed paper s and fine paper s were i nt roduced.
This was not only due to t he changes in market s,
like t he demand from t he new t ype of copy ma-
chines and pri nt i ng processes, but was also an
escape from t he pure cost compet i t i on. The pro-
duct i on of special qualities and grades request s
also st ruct ural changes and i mpl i es i mproved val-
ues added in product i on, and t hen apart from t he
low costs t he critical compet i t i ve advant ages are
high quality, short delivery times, cust omi zed
qualities, and fulfilling of special needs. Thus, it
is necessary to make small bat ches and changes in
pr oduct grades wi t hout losses in availability and
capacity utilization rate. Apar t from t he t echni cal
changes t her e is a need for changes also in t he
pr oduct i on organization and in t he skills of per-
sonnel. Thi s change clearly corresponds to differ-
ent i at i on as a company strategy. It is also inter-
esting how in t he mat ur e st age of t he industry
some compani es were able to i mprove their posi.
tion by i nt roduci ng new product s. The change is
quite anal ogous to t he manuf act ur i ng i ndust ri es
and t he role of .liT and CI M phi l osophi es in
t hese i ndust ri es [1,2].
The di fferent i at i on happened not only regard-
ing t he basic product classes, but also inside t he
specific pr oduct categories, e.g. in t he news pri nt
papers t her e are several subclasses like st andard,
hifi, etc., which necessitate at least diversified
market i ng and di st ri vut i on strategies. As Tabl e 1
and 2 bel ow indicate t he di fferences are really
deep. One can divide each basic pr oduct cat egory
in at least two subcategories: a st andard pr oduct
and a mul t i pr oduct envi ronment . A changeover
process from a st andard pr oduct envi r onment t o
a mul t i pr oduct envi ronment can be difficult.
Partly, this di fferent i at i on of product s became
possible t hr ough t he devel opment of di fferent
pul pi ng processes. TMF ( t her momechani cal pul p-
ing) as well as PGW (presst, rized grinding) pro-
Computers in Industry J. Ranta et al. / Information technology and structural change 257
cesses wer e i nt roduced in t he begi nni ng of t he
seventies, when also t he new paper grades st art ed
t o appear. Of course, t he new mechani cal pul pi ng
met hods added to t he diversity of t he final pr od-
ucts. The new pul pi ng met hods were not only
i nt r oduced because of t he de ma nd for new paper
grades, but it was also a response to t he environ-
ment pr obl ems [3,4].
Apar t from t he new processes, t he most signif-
i cant single technological t r end in t he process
t echnol ogy has been t he so cal l ed integration, i.e.,
connect i ng pul pi ng processes directly t oget her
wi t h paper machi nes. Thi s t r end hel ps to t ake off
from t he mar ket mass (pul p) by using t he pul p in
t he own pr oduct i on wi t hout a separate dryi ng
process. This, of course, means decreased uni t
costs in t he paper pr oduct i on and as a whol e an
i mproved value added chai n. Toget her with t he
i nt egrat i on, t he unit size of t he plants has in-
creased. On t he business level this was seen as
fusion and mer ge processes t owards bigger busi-
ness units. At least in t he Scandi navi an count ri es
t hese t r ends have been qui t e cl ear and obvious
In t he most i nt egrat ed pl ant all phases from
t he mechani cal wood processi ng to t he paper -
maki ng are totally i nt egr at ed within t he same
pl ant and t her e exists a cert ai n amount of flexibil-
ity to opt i mi ze t he set of product s accordi ng t o
t he needs and demand. In or der t o fully exploit
t he benefi t s of t he i nt egrat i on, also a good pro-
cess management and coordi nat i on of separat e
subprocesses are needed. Ther ef or e, t he moder n
process aut omat i on is of specific i mport ance and
t he aut omat i on is a necessary precondi t i on for
successful integration. Also, t he aut omat i on has
to be organi zed in a hi erarchi cal and i nt egrat ed
way t o fully support process and pl ant manage-
ment . Thi s st art ed to become reality in t he 70s
It seems t o be a fact t hat a mui t i pr oduct
envi r onment shows lower efficiency measur ed by
t he capacity utilization rate. The di fference can
be even t en units in percent ages. To some ext ent
this di fference is objective: it is t he price of
flexibility and of mor e val uabl e products. How-
ever, we can put down a hypothesis t hat t he
above pr obl em can be part l y solved by new orga-
ni zat i onal forms, new manageri al met hods, and
i mproved aut omat i on.
Ther ef or e, t he key quest i ons, also in t he fu-
ture, are t he i nt egrat i on and pr oduct flexibility
and necessary organizational sol ut i ons to support
new technological possibilities. These are training
questions, management questions, and technol-
ogy desi gn and pl anni ng questions. One of t he
key quest i ons is to decrease vertical levels of
organi zat i on and horizontal i nt egrat i on of differ-
ent funct i ons as well as to devel op a t eam con-
cept of work in t he machi ne operat i on. This has
t o be suppor t ed by pr oper funct i ons and inter-
faces of i nformat i on technology.
In this paper some of t he key issues ment i oned
above are descri bed and st udi ed in mor e detail.
The pri nt i ng and writing paper sect or is used as
an exampl e t o describe t he dynami cs of t he
2. Products, production and organization
Above, t he i nt eract i on bet ween product s, pro-
duction, and organization has already been shortly
discussed. One of t he key issues in under st andi ng
t he dynamics of t he paper i ndust ry is just this
interaction. Dur i ng t he early 708 t her e were sev-
eral parallel innovations covering t he products.
key processes and aut omat i on and work organiza-
tions, which i mpact ed on t he di fferent i at i on and
provi ded di fferent strategic opt i ons.
The above t rends can be summar i zed furt her
in details as follows [5,6,9].
2.1. From st andard to cust omi zed
A set of new product categories in t he printing
and writing paper s has been devel oped t he last
15-20 years. These include new types of printing
papers and coat ed papers. Ther e has been a
t rend from st andard, low value grades to more
value added, but in many cases customized,
grades. This is especially t rue at t he high end of
t he product range: special LWC papers and
coat ed fine papers, which can be quite cus-
tomized. Not only t he new high end grades have
been devel oped, but also some st andar d product s
like st andard newspri nt and pri nt i ng papers have
started to di fferent i at e accordi ng to cust omer
needs: t her e are special newspri nt grades, special
printing grades, which di fferent i at e not only in
coating characteristics, but also in ot her surface
characteristics, like brightness, roughness, etc.
258 State-of-the-Art Computers in Industry
Also, t here are new i nt ermedi at e grades, like
MFC, which are bet ween t he standard news and
LWC papers, and which can fulfill t he special
needs bet t er and can offer the specialized print-
ing properties for t he customer.
This all means t hat t he business has differenti-
at ed and that t he dynamic of the value added
chain and cost factors are different for different
grades. This differentiation t rend t oget her with
t he internationalization of the business has im-
pacted on the structures of companies as well as
on the management practice. From t he produc-
tion ori ent ed management the major paper and
pulp companies have shifted to a product and
market oriented management .
2.2. From local to global
Conventionally, the paper and pulp companies
have been local and domestic producers. The
export of final products has been the mai n access
to the international marketplace. However, t he
differentiation process and the production of cus-
tomized grades has necessitated to be closer to
the final user and to understand specific needs
better. Also, the competition with delivery, times
has emphasized the same trend. In some cases
the logistic costs can be critical in the price com-
petition, which again forces to be close to the
final user.
The differentiation of products means that the
companies have to manage both the economies of
scope and scale. This partly explains t he acquisi-
tion process going on at the moment. Having
more machines a single company can offer a
broader range of products - or manage the
economies of scope on the company level - and
at the same time gain in efficiency t hrough a
bet t er allocation of production between machines
- or to exploit the economies of scale on a single
machine level. Also, t he acquisition makes it pos-
sible to be local and global at the same time, and
to be flexible in terms of delivery times, logistics
costs, and product customizing.
All major companies in the Nordic countries
and North-America have been active and re-
shaped the European and Nort h-Ameri can scene.
At the same time, the key companies have be-
come really global. This tendency is likely to
continue and will reshape the industrial structure.
However, apart from this scope and scale logic
t here will be anot her strategy: to be really flexible
and produce customized special products, whi ch
are outside t he mainstream of t he global compa-
nies and cannot fulfill t he economi es of t he scale.
2.3. From separate to integrated
Wi t hi n a single mill one of t he most i mport ant
t endenci es has been t he integration of processes,
i.e., t he goal to use the pulp on the site for t he
own paper and board production. This develop-
ment has been a shift t owards more value added
products, but it has also been a measure to de-
crease unit costs in t he paper and board produc-
Parallel to this process integration t here has
been an integration of pl ant automation and in-
formation systems towards fully integrated mill
wide systems. The most advanced applications
cover already all essential plant (and even corpo-
rate) functions, from process control and super-
vising up till production pl anni ng and logistics
Taking into account t he globalization of t he
industry as well as the diversification of the prod-
ucts the mill wide or business wide information
systems play a strategic role. The integration of
marketing, order processing, and product i on
planning systems t oget her with the product i on
and process control will provide a lot of competi-
tive advantages in terms of flexibility, delivery
times, and overall costs. Thus, the competitive
advantages of both these integration trends have
been and will still be clear.
This interaction is still dynamic, e.g. process
automation is still in a stage of fast development,
as process and production automation is really
exploiting the possibilities of information tech-
nologies and digital electronics. This opens new
possibilities for automation strategy and work or-
ganization design. Also, new processes or essen-
tial improvements of t he old ones can still be
expected, opening again possibilities to new types
of products and to completely new types of differ-
entiation strategies.
One of t he key problems has been t hat t he
new possibilities of aut omat i on technology, due
to the increased systems efficiency and i ncreased
flexibility in application design, have not been
exploited by customizing basic systems to differ-
ent product and production environments. On
Computers in Industry J. Ranta et al. / technology and structural change 259
t he ot her hand, some i mprovements of process
t echnol ogi es woul d not have be e n possible wi th-
out extensi ve use o f process automati on. For in-
stance, t he conti nuousl y i ncreased speed o f paper
machi nes, reaching Close t o 100 k m/ h coul d not
have happened wi thout t he parallel devel opment
of aut omat i on t echnol ogy and t he accuracy o f
control . Many i nnovati ons rel ated to head-boxes
and formers are appl i cabl e onl y because o f t he
accurate and advanced control methods. Al so,
t he i ntegrated factories are based on t he ext en-
sive use of aut omat i on as well as some of t he
newest i nnovat i ons in t he pul pi ng processes,
which are i nherent l y unst abl e processes, requi re
advanced aut omat i on met hods. But , a l l this has
been done, so t o say, by t he convent i onal archi-
tectures. Why t her e is a need for customized,
application specific archi t ect ures will be ex-
pl ai ned below.
Tabl es 1 and 2 show some pr oduct i on control
and organi zat i onal indicators for di fferent paper
product s. It can be easily recogni zed t hat t he
Table 1
Differentiation of products
Product End use Number of Variety of Grade changes Average order
regular products, annually size (tn)
customers grades
News, standard Industrial 50-150
News, special Industrial 150-300
Uncoated print
(SC) standard Industrial 150-300
Coated print
(LWC) special Industrial 200-400
Fine, uncoated Industrial
standard Consumer 150-300
Fine, coated Industrial
special Consumer 200-400
2-4 20- 40 100-200
40 400-600 40- 80
4-6 50- 70 80-120
40 400-600 80-120
20 200-300 80-120
60 500-700 50- 80
Product Need for Scope of
finishing/ production
converting control
Production Trim Distribution
program channels
News, standard Low Months
News, special Low Weeks
Uncoated print
(SC) standard Medium Months
Coated print
(LWC) special High Weeks
Fine, uncoated
standard High Weeks
Fine, coated
special High Weeks
Product Pulp base Chemistry
Stable regular Regular Few
Not regular Dynamic Many
Stable regular Regular Many
Dynamic Dynamic Many
Dynamic Dynamic Many
Dynamic Dynamic Many
Operation principle
News, standard Mainly
mechanical Less complex
News, special Mainly
mechanical Less complex
Uncoated print Mixed- Medium
(SC) standard mechanical complex
Coated print Mixed- Medium
(LWC) special mechanical complex
Fine, uncoated
standard Chemical Complex
Fine, coated
special Chemical Complex
Availability, stability, efficiency
Quality, availability, flexibility, customizing
Quality, availability, stability
Quality, availability, flexibility, customizing
Quality, flexibility, availability
Quality, flexibility, time management, customizing
260 State-of-the-An
Tabl e 2
Cost st ruct ure-pri ce of flexibility (machine size 200000 t n/ yr )
Computers in Industry
Price Direct
F I M/ t n variable
cost s/ t n
cost s/ t n
Crade Time spent for
changes/ yr grade
changes(mi n)
Tot al
News, standard 2200 1500 300
News, multiproduct 2500 1600 330
SC, standard 2800 1900 350
LWC, multiproduct 3300 2000 380
Fine, standard 3500 2300 400
Fine, multiproduct 4500 2500 450
30 450
400 12000
40 800
500 15000
250 7500
700 28000
Val ue/ t n Lost Lost Sales
value sales (%)
added (FIM)
Mar- Sensitivity Break Val ue
gins (%) for breaks time (%) breaks
% of
N, S 189 189000 378000 0.1
N, MP 5050 5 M 12.6 M 2.5
SC, S 340 410000 850000 0.15
LWC, MP 6300 9.5 M 20 M 3
Fine, S 3150 5.4 M 11 M 1.5
Fine, MP 11800 23 M 53 M 6
1 Small 5 10 M 25
12.6 High 8 40 M 40
1 Medium 6 34 M 34
14 High 8 50 M 36
10 High 8 55 M 50
17 High 10 90 M 30
whole logistic network "suppl y-product i on-di s-
tribution" is rat her different for different prod-
ucts. Also, the scope of planning and control is
different, from the planning horizon to t he basic
operation and the "driving philosophy" of the
machine. Because of different goals, different
economic and operational aspects are empha-
sized in connection with different product classes.
Thus, it is reasonable to expect that the needed
production organizatioth the needed skills, and
knowledge of personnel are different in the case
with different products and processes. To some
extent this requi rement is reflected in the differ-
entiation of marketing principles and distribution
channels, and in t he differences of t he basic
But on the production level, including organi-
zation, application of automation, and informa-
tion technologies, t here are only minor changes
recognized. However, we may ask: how can flexi-
ble paper making be implemented or are more
special machines needed to achieve this goal, are
more customized architectures of automation
needed for different processes and different
products, and are also differentiated organiza-
tional forms needed for these purposes? This
might be an idealistic statement, but at least from
t he automation point of view t here exist new
promising prospects which can help to i mpl ement
t hat goal.
2.4. I mpact s on aut omat i on
The above statement becomes more obvious if
we ret urn to Tables 1 and 2. We can make t he
following general conclusions:
(1) In a multiproduct envi ronment the fusion
logic is clear. By increasing t he number of ma-
chines, a single company can achieve a product
flexibility on the company level and at t he same
time exploit the economies of scale on the ma-
chine level. This is simply done by a task division
bet ween machines in or der t o achieve longer runs
on a single machine. From t he tables we can see
what can be t he saving potential: it easily corre-
sponds to more t han 100 FI M in terms of t he
product i on cost savings per ton - and even more,
if we take into account t hat longer runs also
mean a lower break sensitivity. It is clear also
that the role of logistic is becomi ng more impor-
tant: t he task division bet ween the plants and
machines, and the grade specific costs depend
always on the market area and the related logistic
c o s t s .
(2) I n a s t a n d a r d p r o d u c t e n v i r o n m e n t t h e k e y
f o c u s o f a u t o m a t i o n h a s t o b e o n c o s t e f f i c i e n c y
( o p t i m a l u s e o f p r o d u c t i o n f a c t o r s ) a n d o n t h e
g u a r a n t e e i n g o f g o o d t e c h n i c a l availability. I n a
m u l t i p r o d u c t e n v i r o n m e n t t h i s is, o f c o u r s e , a l s o
i m p o r t a n t . B u t , a p a r t f r o m this, t h e o p t i m i z i n g o f
p r o d u c t i o n p r o g r a m s a n d r u n s i n o r d e r t o a c h i e v e
Computers in I ndustry J . Ranta et al. / I nformation technology and structural change 261
smoot h grade changes shoul d be an i mportant
goal for i nformati on t echnol ogy and automati on.
(3) In a mul ti product envi ronment a more
ti ghter vertical col l aborati on wi thi n a pl ant is
needed. Agai n, in order t o achi eve smoot h runs
and grade changes, t he cooperat i on bet ween mar-
ket i ng, producti on pl anni ng, producti on manage-
ment , and machi ne operat i on is critical.
(4) The needed skills and knowl edge are di f-
f erent in a standard and mul ti product envi ron-
ment . In t he mul ti product envi ronment t he con-
cept o f quality is di fferent: a broader scope o f
grades and products has to be covered. Speci al
at t ent i on to the grade changes and t he dynami c
operat i on condi ti ons o f t he machi ne is needed.
Thi s emphasi zes hori zontal cooperati on at t he
machi ne. Al s o t he change f rom a standard prod-
uct envi ronment to a mul ti product envi ronment
(or even more: from t he standard news to t he
speci al f i ne) can be difficult. It is not a t echni cal
change: t he whol e plant cul ture has to be changed.
(5) The producti on pl anni ng and control as
well as t he tri mmi ng probl em are more difficult
and dynamic i n a mul ti product envi ronment. This
again emphasi zes t he role o f vertical cooperation.
Before goi ng to the role o f automati on in
details s ome general trends are shortly described.
The mos t i mportant mi l e st ones o f t he process
automati on are presented in Tabl e 3. The paper
and pul p industry has experi enced all these mai n
phases. In Fi nl and it has be e n t he l eadi ng edge
industry to apply new automati on technology. For
instance, t he distributed digital systems diffused
very rapidly i nto t he Fi nni sh paper and pulp
The first generati on distributed systems were
functionally basically dupl i cates o f t he conven-
tional anal ogue systems. The functi onal integra-
ti on was i mproved and, at t he same ti me, t h e
systems provi ded a coordi nated decentralization.
However, any significant new f unct i ons and fea-
tures were not provided. Even t he man- mac hi ne
interface was mai nl y the classical anal ogue inter-
face real i zed by VDUs . There were no significant
Table 3
Trends of automation
Pneumatics &
Anal ogue /
Di gi t al /
( / zP/ pr oces s
2G digital
( f u l l y ~te)
Scope of Structure of
control system
Single loop, Decentralized,
unit process dedicated
Single loop,
unit process
suppl y-
first order
f u l l y
and vertical
L o o p , sub-
and supervision
Plant and
p r o c e s s
o p e r a t i o n
Plant and
Control Dominance
room period
Decentralized, > 50's
60' s
Central, 60' s-70' s
Central Late
hierachical 70' s-80' s
l. ate
80' s-90' s
90' S
262 State-of-the-Art Computers in Industry
impacts on the structure of the basic production
organization. Of course t he concrete cont ent of
the work of operators, mai nt enance personnel,
and application design changed significantly due
to t he new technology.
The second generat i on systems, the current
practice, to the market are in that sense com-
pletely different. The information processing ca-
pacity is much higher. The internal structure is
very much like the one of the distributed (and
parallel) information processing systems. These
systems can provide both vertical and horizontal
integration and covering functions, which previ-
ously was provided by separate subsystems. The
changing technology makes it possible to take
into account specific needs of different processes,
to process information in an intelligent way, to
provide support to different operational and
mai nt enance people, and to make a real process
management possible. This change also requests
changes in organization, task division, and train-
ing as well as in application design practice.
The current top practice or the integrated mill
wide automation is realized by the functional and
technical integration of the different subsystems.
In practice this means that through a process and
local area (mill) network system, basic measure-
ment and control loop data, production dat a as
well as production planning, and control dat a can
be accessed. However, this integration is not re-
ally reflected in control room or workstations
technology. Although the processing power and
technical possibilities are existing, t here exist a
lot of different interfaces and the integration is in
practice only seen on t he communication level. A
new workstation approach is needed which func-
tionally supports different operations and tasks,
groups of persons, and different activities and in
which a single production run can be followed
and economically evaluated on a real-time basis.
Also, we can state that most of t he basic
controls are based on the idea of long production
runs: or to keep t he machine in a stable state.
However, as discussed above, this emphasizes the
dynamic change: it is important to change the
operat i on state and manage the grade changes
quickly, economically and efficiently. Also, t here
is a need for a continuous retrimming and to
support operational persons to do the changes.
Even the basic control structures a.,~ strategies
have to be reformed and repl anned to support
consecutively changing operat i on modes.
Therefore, to exploit the i nt egrat i on fully, a
new fuctionaUy focussed approach is needed.
Therefore, we can also forecast t he following
It is reasonabl e to expect t hat t he fut ure sys-
tems will be plant-wide information systems, sup-
porting not only process control and manage-
ment, but also mai nt enance functions. It is even
possible t hat in a foreseen fut ure supply and
distribution management are also integrated with
the plant information systems. This means t hat
paper making is moving towards JIT and CIM
philosophies, and the scope of control will be t he
whole logistic chain "suppl y-product i on-di st ri -
We can put down t he hypothesis that those
systems suppliers which are able to provide pro-
cess specific features and have an intelligent and
supporting application design methodology will
have a lot of advantages. Also those users or
paper makers who are able to adapt their organi-
zation, knowledge and skill bases to the new
possibilities will have strong advantages.
If we look at the fut ure and forecast how t he
information technologies will still evolve, we can
conclude t hat they will still have new and more
visible impacts in the 5- 10 years' perspective.
The above conclusions are more immediate.
Therefore, automation systems, production orga-
nizations as well as the application design of
systems have to change to fully exploit the possi-
bilities of information technologies [8,10].
3. Automation technology and flexible paper mak-
3. I . I n t r o d u c t i o n
Digital automation systems have been widely
used in t he proc~oss industry duri ng the last
decade. However, most of t he functions have so
far been digital realizations of functions w2aich
earlier had been performed using analog equip-
ment. To some extent advantages of digital tech-
nology have been used when some overall control
functions have been included in the systems.
Lately, also new functions for operat or support
and user interfaces have been introduced. The
fast devel opment of information technology may,
Computers in Industry Z Ranta et ai. / Information technology and structural change 263
however, enabl e new solutions in t he race to-
wards flexible paper making which has been de-
scribed in this paper. Flexibility is usually con-
neet ed with manufacturing and in this field many
solutions have also been developed. Al t hough t he
paper process is completely different compared
to manufacturing, t he basic i deas of flexibility are
the same. Hence, t here are also similarities in t he
approach and some general solutions may be
applied t o both fields.
In this chapter, t he possibilities of information
technology and automation to meet flexibility and
efficiency demands are discussed. Improvements
of t he utilization of t he processes are usually
connect ed to changes both in t he products, t he
process and its use. Most changes have t hei r
impacts on automation wher e integration of dif-
ferent functions is growing. This integration is
going on both vertically and horizontally.
3.2. Process demands
3.2.1. Efficiency
The economy of scale has traditionally been
t he mai n competitive advantage in the process
industry. As was shown earlier, t he economy of
scale can also be applied in flexible paper making
by distributing orders bet ween different machines
in or der to get longer runs.
Efficiency is, '.,owever, achi eved mainly by ef-
fective utilization of the equi pment . Usually, this
also means larger integration of different func-
tions in or der to have a bet t er control and coordi-
nation of t he whole process. Larger and mor e
complex processes will l ead to larger environmen-
tal and economi c risks. Due to efficiency require-
ment s t her e is also a pressure to operat e t he
processes with smaller margins t han earlier. As a
consequence of these t rends t he importance of
t he control and operation of t he process is grow-
i n g .
3. 2. 2. Flexibility and specialization
The t rend towards specialized, more customer
specific products is driving t he paper making in
t he di rect i on of comput er i nt egrat ed manufactur-
ing (CIM). Efficient application of the ideas of
just in t i me (JIT) and flexibility requires a good
control of all equipment. Flexibility usually means
more frequent changes of process paramet ers
t han earlier. An important aim is t o minimize t he
transition t i me and disturbances rel at ed to the
changes. Process development is one mean, but
t he requi rement s on the controllability of the
process are growing with new demands on the
automation solutions.
Customer specific products are shortening the
distance bet ween t he markets and t he produc-
tion, and t he cooperation is emphasized. This
trends also indicates an overall approach to the
control of t he whol e chain, where all t he follow-
ing functions are included:
- order handl i ng
- production planning
- production control
- process control
- inventory control
- delivery control
Traditionally, functions rel at ed to marketing
(order handling, inventory and delivery control)
have not been a part of the automation, but they
have been regarded as part of t he managerial and
business systems. Also, production planning and
control have traditionally represent ed a hierar-
chically higher level than process automation. The
growing need of immediate interactions demands
a new vertical integration of t he whol e control
systems. When t he capacity of process automa-
tion systems is continuously growing due to the
fast devel opment of electronics and information
technology, t her e are possibilities to include func-
tions which have been considered as parts of
administrative information systems.
The idea of JI T includes minimal inventories
in all stages of t he process with faster reaction
possibilities (bet t er flexibility) and reduced costs
for inventories and material under processing. As
a consequence, t he importance of material-han-
dling (logistics) is growing. An ot her impact is
tighter connections between different parts in the
process. Inventories are also buffers which can be
used to reduce t he consequences of disturbances
in some parts of the process. The effects of
reduced buffers have to be consi dered in the
planning of protection systems against distur-
bances and failures. Generally, t he tighter con-
nections bet ween different subprocesses also put
more requi rement s on the overall control of the
3.3. Integration o f automation
264 State-of-the-Art Computers in Industry
c o wmo L I
[ ~ R O D U C T T O S l
I C O m O L I
MA,-MAa~x~I I p R o ~ z o . l I ~ m ~ s
I ~ e n A s s , I - = ' ~ 1 P a o e z s s I ~ 1 I
Fi g. l . Th e i nt er act i on b e t we e n f unct i ons i ncl uded in t he
pr oduc t i on cont r ol .
The described development requires automa-
tion solutions which give the users means to an
integrated control of t he complete process. This
integration of typical functions is described in
Fig. 1.
The interaction bet ween different systems re-
quires communication between these systems.
Great efforts are put in the standardization of
communication. Integration, however, does not
only mean t hat systems are communicating with
each other. An impact of the increased capacity
of the equi pment ment i oned above is t hat t he
borders between different automation and infor-
mation systems are not any more very strict. For
instance, the border bet ween the production con-
trol and the process automation is not necessarily
clear. Many automation systems already perform
production optimizatlon tasks. This is a natural
development, because t he realization of produc-
tion control usually requires information on the
state of the process.
In many new aut omat i on systems t he de-
scribed trends can be seen. At t ent i on has been
given to present hi gher level control actions for
t he operator, which means that information about
production control is available. An enl argement
toward market i ng and purchase seems to be a
quite realistic assumption.
3.3.1. Ho r i z o n t a l i nt egr at i on
The described integration is a vertical integra-
tion from process aut omat i on towards adminis-
trative information systems. However, a horizon-
tal enl argement of t he aut omat i on can also be
identified. The systems for mai nt enance support
are also a part of an overall control. The role of
information related to mai nt enance is growing
t oget her with smaller margins in t he operat i on of
the process. The operat or needs information
about t he condition of all different systems to be
able to operat e the process economically and
reliably. The most convenient way is to have this
information available in t he same automation sys-
tem as all ot her information.
The support of systems is to a larger extent
becoming software support, because nearly all
functions are performed by software. Different
tools for software support have been developed.
Most of t hem contain some kind of diagnostics.
These systems are closely rel at ed to software
design. Hence, design and mai nt enance systems
are also becoming closer.
Different operation support systems are be-
coming available. They perform functions like
alarm analysis, monitoring of critical functions, or
automatic generation of operat i on procedures.
Many of these systems are using artificial intelli-
gence in some form. This type of functions seems
to grow fast.
3. 3. 2. L o c a l i nt el l i gence
I n t he development towards CIM integrating
coordination is essential. An integration is, how-
ever, impossible without devel opment of t he local
building blocks of automation. The t rends in t he
devel opment of local intelligence on t he control
loop level are, hence, as i mport ant as those of
communication, production control, etc. Smart
transmitters a n d actuators are examples of t he
devel opment in this field. One problem in using
these has been the lack of a common communica-
tion • t andar d. Communi cat i on has usually been
analog. Digital communi cat i on may be available
only in connection with aut omat i on systems from
t he same deliverer as e.g. t he transmitter.
In digital field equi pment most functions are
performed by software. Also large functions can
Computers in Industry Y. Ranta et al. / Information technology and structural change 265
be real i zed locally and t he functions can easily be
changed. When t he communi cat i on problems are
solved e.g. tuning of transmitters for their mea-
suring ar ea or the change of linearization param-
eters coul d be done in t he control room. Small
control loops could also be real i zed locally, e.g. in
connect i on with digital valve actuators.
Local intelligence is usually closely connect ed
to t he functions of the process. Developn;ent of
t he control is closely rel at ed t o t he process devel-
opment . Hence, the process and automation de-
sign is becoming i nt egrat ed on t he subprocess
level. The implications are t hat cooperation be-
t ween process and aut omat i on suppliers is neces-
sary. If much basic control can be realized locally,
t he rol e of t he automation systems will have its
focus on t he higher level and t he integrating
overall control.
3. 4. Basi c aut omat i on technology
3. 4.1. Cont rol
Process control has mainly been based on con-
trol loops. On the ot her hand, t her e is a develop-
ment in t he processes and t hei r operation to
tighter connections bet ween subprocesses due t o.
smaller buffers. Control based on control loops
may not be able to take t hese cross connections
into account well enough. Some multivariable
control seems necessary. It must not be so critical
to t he accuracy of t he process model as many
classical optimal control met hods are.
The flexibility requi rement s and variations in
t he product s imply that t he operat i on state of t he
process has t o be changed frequently. The control
paramet ers also change. A consequence may be a
great er need for adaptive control than earlier.
In view of the developments in the products
and t he process a need of devel opment and appli-
cation of new control met hods seems obvious.
Knowl edge engineering may give some new means
for this need, e.g. qualitative modelling and con-
trol. The growing i mport ance of logistics and
optimization of overall functions indicate a larger
use of operat i on analysis in connection with au-
t omat i on systems t han earlier.
The implication of more frequent changes of
operat i on paramet ers is a growing importance of
t he sequence control. Both safety and economy of
t he process rely to a large extent on the function
of t he sequence control. As a result, t he impor-
tance of design and verification of t he function of
sequences is growing.
3. 4.2. Ne w tools
Many new tools in automation are based on
new information technologies, especially artificial
intelligence, e.g. systems for oper at or support or
alarm analysis. A safe use of t hese systems re-
quires t hat t he models and rules used behave
correctly in all possible situations. The validation
seems to become critical if t he support systems
are connect ed directly to t he process control.
Alarm analysis including al arm reduction in-
cludes t he risk t hat in some situation relevant
alarms have been suppressed. Hence, a parallel
collection of all alarms seems likely.
The mai n task for the operat or is to manage
changes. For this a deep underst andi ng of inter-
relations in t he process is necessary. He should
underst and causes and consequences in the pro-
cess. For this a comprehensive training is re-
quired. Simulation may be a tool for this training.
Training simulators could be connect ed to the
control room and used for training, e.g. during
some shut down periods. Simulation could also
be useful in analyzing real situations in the con-
trol room provided that recent situations can be
repeat ed and different action possibilities tested.
The use of simulation in t he process design
has been growing. Automation design is a part of
the whole design process. Simulation is an effec-
tive tool in planning control for efficient changes
between different process states. If automation
design to a larger extent is done in connection
with simulation, t he configuration information
should be t ransferred directly bet ween the simu-
lator and t he automation system.
The personal comput er (PC) is a tool getting
more importance in many fields. Al t hough reser-
vations for t he reliability of PCs in industrial
application have been expressed t her e has been a
growing amount of PC based control applications
on the markets. The reasons are probably grow-
ing capacity of PCs and the introduction of indus-
trial PCs. The available control applications are
usually of two types: software for connection to
control, and software to support control engi-
266 State-of-¢he-Art Comput er s in lndttvtr),
The first group usually contains real time dat a
acquisition and tracking. The PC is not necessar-
ily connect ed to the process, but the information
is coming from the automation system. The PC is
used for graphical information presentation and
different higher level calculations related to t he
process management . On t he ot her hand, many
solutions where t he PC is used for direct control
are available. In t hese cases the processes are
usually small. The support systems for process
engi neers are, e.g., software for simulation, con-
troller tuning, or control design. The capacity of a
PC is today roughly t he same as the capacity of a
process station in an automation system. When
t he reliability of PCs is increasing and PC net-
works are becoming mor e common, the use of
PCs in larger control applications seems quite
likely and PCs may be used on all hierarchical
3.4.3. Reliability and safety
Digital electronics is clearly more reliable t han
analog ones. The most unreliable part of tht:
hardware seems to be t he field equipment. When
these are becoming digital, an increase in the
reliability is also likely. The increased integration
and the use of custom designed chips also will
allow a larger use of reliable functions.
Because most automation functions are real-
ized by software the reliability aspects are mainly
related to the reliability of the software. Aut oma.
tion systems may contain real time software rep-
resenting hundreds of man years devel opment
work. Moreover, the software may contain com-
plex communication and dat a base operations,
realized using hundreds of processors. To ensure
secure functioning of such a system in all possible
circumstances is a problem, which has not yet
been completely solved. Modules and reusable
st andard software pieces are some means to re-
duce the risks.
Application design is also software design.
Compared to the software included in t he au-
tomation systems this software has to be made for
only one application. The possibilities for stan-
dar d solutions are hence smaller. However, t he
use of typical solution models can reduce t he
possibilities of mistakes. The function of t he soft-
ware can be enhanced by close cooperat i on be-
t ween process design and automation design.
3.5. Cbnclusions
Some of t he described t rends in t he automa-
tion for flexible paper making may be realized
very soon. Some ot her may still need-devel op-
ment efforts. Some general impacts could, how-
ever, be seen:
(1) Integration requires communication in dif-
ferent directions and to different information sys-
tems. Due to standardization the systems are
becoming more open both vertically and horizon-
tally. Also the process interface may become more
open. due to the ongoing standardization of the
field equipment.
(2) Large, complex processes and interactions
bet ween subprocesses require a wi de understand-
ing of t he whol e production chain. The users
need new supporting systems to be able to man-
age t he process in an efficient way. Devel opment
of these systems has to rely on deep studies of t he
whole environment.
f3) Reliability aspects are becomi ng more im-
portant because of great er complexity but also
because of an increase concern for the environ-
ment. This will give new requi rement s on espe-
cially t he software design.
(4) The new ways of operat i ng the process
require new approaches to the control and mod-
eling of t he processes.
4. Towards a new organi zati on and trai ni ng prac-
The i mpl ement at i on of aut omat i on technology
is seldom an i ndependent investment or renewal
process. The design process is once again ef-
fected by t he triangle: product, process, organiza-
tion. The changes in product s and production
processes can have a major impact on the opera-
tion principles of the plant, as shown above, and
that means on t he skills needed in the operat i on
of the pl ant and training given duri ng t he design
and i mpl ement at i on process. Also how t he au-
tomation and millwide system will be specified
and functionally designed shoul d be concl uded
from t he goals of t he whole productional change.
Also t he workplace, organization design and t he
training given during t he aut omat i on i mpl emen-
tation have to be connect ed to t he overall change.
The plant automation is not t he focus of t he
Computers in Industry J. Ranta et al. / Information technolo~ and structural change 267
operation, but a tool to manage effectively t he
process. Thus, t he design is not to design bits and
bytes, but more and more a socio-technicai and
socio-economical problem. Unfortunately, the de-
sign is usually underst ood as a technical task,
al t hough t he new dynamic envi ronment empha-
sizes and even necessitates a much broader view
and a new kind of design practice and culture
The generi c problems duri ng t he automation
i mpl ement at i on or more generally in the manag-
ing of t he technologiacal change, which have been
found in several cases, can be classified as fol-
lows. These problems seem to be rat her generi c
problems and are also found in many ot her stud-
ies [2,13-17].
(1) Lack of time. Usually t he goals of renewal
and allocated resources (time and money, human
resources) are not in balance. It is even a ten-
dency t o reduce t he proposal of t he preassess-
ment study or preprojects, when t he final invest-
ment decision is made. Of course, this directly
impacts on t he quality of t he design and usually
leads to t he situation in which organizational and
training questions are overlooked and in general
easy and fast solutions are chosen. In a tight
design process t here is very seldom time to make
connections to the total change and to really
make an application specific automation design.
Too oft en t he old st andard solutions are used
and t he needs of the new environment are not
analyzed. Usually, the first costs, or t he immedi-
ate design and implementation costs, a r e under-
stood to be all-over costs (which should be mini-
mized under t he constraints) and, therefore, t he
needs of t he system (process) lifecycle is seldom
defined and analyzed.
(2) Separat i on of design and plant operation.
It is very seldom that t he operat ors and the real
final users of t he system are integrated to t he
design process. This is partly due to the previous
point: lack of resources. Usually it is felt t hen
that t he system is given outside and leads to a
situation where a lot of revisions are made during
t he start-up phase. This typically is a case in
which reduct i on of direct design costs usually
leads to increased life-cycle costs.
One important reason for t he lack of user
participation in the design of a complex produc-
tion system is obviously t he lack of means or tools
to organi ze participation. A fruitful approach
would be the modelling of the product i on process
from the user' s point of view. The modelling of
t he system should be based on t he analysis of the
functions of t he system. The model should con-
tain a list of every essential functional part of the
system, the way it affects t he new product s and
t he characteristics o.f this part. On t he basis of
this information, t he upcoming users would de-
fine the requi rement s for the type of information
needed from t he functioning of t he system. Also
t he classification and presentation of t he impor-
t ant process information, like alarms, can be de-
fined based on this approach.
(3) The organization, workplace design, and
training are not understood to be part of the
systems design. The organizational structure is
usually given: as it has been the last 20 years. It is
hierarchical, solid and not supporting t eam and
group work and t he obvious need for vertical and
horizontal collaboration. And because the con-
t ent of work will not change, t here is no specific
need for training. Many quality problems and
operational problems after start up can be traced
to that question. A multiproduct envi ronment is a
completely different production mode t han a
standard product environment. Therefore, the
personnel has to be prepared for t he new envi-
ronment and t he principles, reasons and whys of
the change and the new system as well as the
differences with the old system have to be ex-
(4) Due to the previous problem it is usually
thought that "l earni ng by doing" is the best
met hod to access t he needed skills and knowl-
edge. The valley between a multiproduct and
standard product environment it too wide for
conventional practice. A systematic training is
needed to fill t he gap and broaden the knowledge
and the skills of the personnel.
How this can be done? The underlying hypoth-
esis here is t hat the multiproduct environment
needs a t eam work both on vertical and horizon-
tal axis. This necessitates broadening of the skills
and knowledge, and special attemps to support
the formation of self-managed operat i on groups.
(1) The allover change has to be explained and
t he connections of t he goals and reasons to single
technical changes have to be clarified. Also the
reasons and whys behi nd the changes have to be
explained. This is also a way to transform the
design knowledge into operative knowledge,
268 State-of-the-Art Computers in industry
whi ch can be used to manage di st urbances and t o
cope wi t h t he complexity in t he operat i ve deci-
sion maki ng situations.
(2) Theoret i cal backgr ounds of t he new prod=
uct s and processes have to be explained. The
t rai ni ng process has t o provi de tools for concep-
tual under st andi ng of t he process, to make prog-
nosis and diagnostics, and t o make generaliza-
tions and abstractions. Especially this is necessary
in t he mul t i pr oduct envi ronment , when br oader
skills and mui t i t ask per sonnel are needed to cope
wi t h t he increasing complexity of t he pr oduct i on
envi ronment .
(3) Trai ni ng has t o be i nt egrat ed with t he de-
sign process so t hat t he desi gn process is used in
a systematic way for t rai ni ng purposes. Thi s is
necessary in order to t ransfer t he design knowl-
edge into t he operat i on. Also this creat es possi-
bilities for t he vertical and horizontal cooper at i on
aft er t he process start up.
(4) The training and devel opment is not over
after t he start up. The t eam concept and t he
gr oup work have to suppor t t he devel opment of
oper at i on principles, l earni ng from experi ence
and t ransfer t he experi ence over t he shift and
organizational boundari es and hierarchies.
Ther e are a lot of means to collect operat i ve
experi ence and to use it for learning and systems
i mprovement s. The first obvious source is process
di st urbances and so called web breaks in t he
paper line. Every single break is an unexpect ed
event, which gives new insights into t he process
and system operations. These events can be used
t o under st and t he process bet t er and to make
i mprovement s to t he systems [18]. The distur-
bances and breaks can also be used as a tool in
an on-line learning process, in t he devel opment
of t he operat i on principles, and in t ransformi ng
t he knowl edge and experi ence from t he shifts t o
t he ot hers and from t he t eams to t he ot hers. Thi s
means t hat t he t eam concept can be gai ned in
bot h t he vertical and hori zont al axes.
The breaks and di st urbances are also a source
t o assess t he design principles, goals and prac-
tices. This gives an aid to assess t he system per-
formance and to i mprove t he system oper at i on
not only duri ng t he life cycle of t he system, and
also to improve t he syst em design goals and prac-
tice in or der to i mprove t he system per f or mance
for t he new system. Thus, t he di st urbance and
br eak analysis is not only a means to t ransfer t he
experi ence f r om one shift t o anot her , but it is
also a means t o t ransfer experi ence and operat i ve
btnowledge t o desi gn and pl anni ng.
Every t echni cal system has and will have dis-
t urbances. Al t hough t he goal is t o avoid t he unex-
pect ed event s as much as possible, t hese can
never be fully el i mi nat ed. In fact, much of t he
aut omat i on and i nformat i on t echnol ogy is needed
to pr ot ect t he system against fl uct uat i ons and
unf or eseen event s and to mi ni mi ze t he impacts of
t he di st urbances. The unexpect ed events, like t he
web breaks in t he paper machi ne, can be system-
atie or stochastic. Also t he managi ng of t hese
di st urbances and t he el i mi nat i on of t hei r i mpact
will be di fferent , dependi ng on t he basic nat ur e
of t he br eak [18,19]. The systematic breaks are
usually sympt oms of technical, operat i ve or orga-
nizational mal funct i ons in t he system. These can
and have t o be correct ed by a systematic analysis
of t he process and systems and by correct i ng t he
er r oneous part s of t he systems.
In t he cur r ent practice only few pl ant s collect
t he break dat a in a systematic way in or der t o
improve t he system performance. It is very rare
even to divide t he breaks i nt o two basic cato-
gories: systematic and stochastic. Thi s is so, al-
t hough all necessary i nformat i on is i ncl uded in
t he process i nformat i on systems, and t he i mpor-
tance and significance of t he breaks are generally
under st ood as a source of experi ence and for
system i mprovement s. One obvi ous reason to t he
present si t uat i on is t he lack of t he pr oper tools.
In or der t o fully utilize t he existing i nformat i on
also new funct i ons are needed in t he aut omat i on
and process i nformat i on systems. Thi s is obvi-
ously one goal for t he next generat i on, work
station based systems.
What has been expl ai ned above especially re-
quests a good collaboration and j oi nt activities of
t he t eam al ong t he machi ne. The crew has to act
as a t eam in which everybody is able to do every
task r equi r ed from t he t eam and in pri nci pl e
more: t he machi ne oper at or has t o under st and
mor e and mor e about t echnol ogy and mai nt e-
nance. Al so it is critical t hat market i ng, produc-
tion pl anni ng and pr oduct i on are able to work in
a close col l aborat i on and even more: t he produc-
tion pl anni ng has to under s t and t he operat i onal
pri nci pl es and const rai nt s of t he machi ne and
also t he machi ne crew has t o be able to make
simple t r i mmi ng tasks and pl anni ng tasks and
Computers in Industry J. Ranta et al. / Information technology and structural change 269
understand economi c consequences o f thei r oper-
ational deci si ons. Theref ore, t he new approach
on both t he vertical and hori zontal integration is
The i nformati on technol ogy has to support t he
new organi zati on concept and al so t he basic tasks.
Theref ore, an integrated workstations approach
is ne e de d to fit the technol ogy together wi th
organi zati on and functi onal tasks.
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