In category Articles, News

Developing operations with data and open innovation

Venla Viertola and Helena Kortelainen

Forest companies often consider that development projects pose a risk. Now the setting has changed, and companies look for software and integration projects that offer solutions to business problems.

Traditionally, companies developing software approach possible customers with a product, and if the product does not respond to the customers´ need, there will not be an investment. Now with SEED ecosystem, the setting is completely different. End user companies formulate their needs in use cases and brainstorm together with software developers for different implementations and solutions.

Metsä Board wants to develop spare part information management by connecting and refining the master data of spare parts via automation and artificial intelligence. In SEED ecosystem, Metsä Board collects ideas and options from several ICT companies for their use case. The best ideas will then collected in a common offering, and the target is to develop an app by the spring of 2021. Metsä Board will have a pilot testing of the app in one of the mills in Finland. After a successful piloting phase, the app is supposed to be a part of the Metsä Group’s joint business processes.

The Metsä Group’s four different business areas currently have their own information systems and own spare part management. Across the whole Metsä Corporation, there are approximately 450 000 spare part items – so just connecting the information systems is not bringing clear advantages. The benefits of a new solution does not reside only in the inventory, but in the spare part management as a whole, too. As most of the spare parts belong to Metsä Board, it also offers a piloting environment for the mill-wide fusion of information content.

Even though the forest industry has been progressive in the automation field especially in remote monitoring and maintenance for decades, has the focus now shifted towards different functions. Open innovation platform creates chances for unexpected and stunning solutions. The forest industry has been very system and solution oriented. A development project is often regarded as a risk because the hardships in making a thorough specification. “It is interesting to follow up how companies offering digital solutions manage the development projects”, says Pirita Mikkanen from Metsä Board.

Source: Paperi ja Puu magazine (No 2/2020)