U.S. manufacturing, on the whole, is in the midst of a dilemma. Qualified labor is migrating away from industry-based jobs for a number of reasons, the top three of which are Baby Boomer retirements, misperceptions about manufacturing jobs, and a widening skills gap caused by emerging technologies.1 As a result, an estimated 2.4 million positions throughout manufacturing sectors are projected to remain unfilled between 2018 and 2028.1
The pulp and paper industry is not exempt from the impact of the skilled labor shortage, which understandably plays a role in meeting the annual demand for the 400 million tons of paper currently used worldwide.2 Practical answers are continually being sought. Instead of pivoting away from technologies to accommodate an untrained workforce, leaders in Industry 4.0 are embracing advancements to help less-technically experienced workers succeed in more technical roles while also improving operational efficiencies.
Fabio Perini has long held the philosophy that technology combined with technical expertise can — and should — transform the pulp and paper industry, as evidenced by the Digital Tissue™ platform launched in 2018. This is especially true nowadays, as tissue converters are struggling to achieve and maintain high operational efficiencies. Today, Fabio Perini is using cloud-based data management systems, augmented reality, and other smart technologies to enable remote connectivity between tissue converters and technical experts at the company's headquarters. These experts analyze the data and help troubleshoot and resolve production problems with a goal of improving overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). This interaction between technology and technical expertise is the basis of the new digital customer service model, and is enabling Fabio Perini to remotely support its customers, optimize performance, and overcome the growing skill gap.
Some of the Fabio Perini innovations that help operators leverage smart technology to their advantage include:
- Weareables smart glasses offer hands-free user interfaces for communications and operations guided by off-site technicians. Weareables are reshaping the operator experience by making the exchange of real-time audio and video data, and interactions with 3D and digital content easy, which reduces downtime and improves OEE. In fact, converters using the glasses state that troubleshooting time has decreased by up to 60%, which means less machine downtime.
- Digital Audit services allow highly skilled technicians to carry out accurate, remote mechanical, electrical, operational, and process audits of the equipment. Their findings are immediately translated into recommended action steps to avoid machine downtime. Digital Audit enables better understanding and guided correction of operator errors, and provides clear and well-defined information for line operators and production managers.
- Fabio Perini E-Training is directly tailored to operator needs. The multi-language online training courses are available worldwide 24/7, and are tiered from basic preparation for working on a tissue converting production line to specific training packages for machines like MyLine and Constellation.
- The Tissue Performance Center is an innovative control center that enables deeper, ongoing monitoring of Fabio Perini machines installed on production lines worldwide. It is being designed to optimize production, simplify line management, and enable predictive maintenance. Launched at MIAC 2019, the center combines the use of the latest Microsoft Cloud and IoT technologies with Fabio Perini's expertise.
The growing skills gap has leaders in the pulp and paper industry rethinking how to prepare operators and maintain production efficiencies. Contact Fabio Perini to discuss services and solutions that leverage smart technology to meet labor needs, and learn more in our eBook, Digital Tissue™: Harnessing the Power of Industry 4.0.
1Deloitte, 2018 Deloitte skills gap and future of work in manufacturing study, Undated
2Environmental Paper Network, The State of the Global Paper Industry, 2018