Digi Breakfast: Process Automation in Transition

More than 100 people attended the Digi Breakfast on Mon 29 October at Aalto Bioproduct Centre.
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Digi Breakfast event was organised by Aalto Digital Platform. Theme of the day “Process Automation in Transition” attracted audience that represented widely different industries and organisations. In the beginning of the event Janne Laine, Dean of the School of Chemical Engineering, talked about the venue, Aalto Bioproduct Centre (ABio), a modern bioeconomy ecosystem. After that Chair of the Aalto Digital Platform Board, Prof. Yrjö Neuvo presented the Platform and told that Aalto University is a leading university in Finland in digitalisation, in the number of students, professors, publications, and funding.

Jyrki Ovaska, Executive Vice President, UPM Kymmene Oyj, gave a keynote speech about how decreased paper consumption has triggered a structural change and motivated search for new business ideas. Today companies need to put much more effort in innovations in order to succeed. What is the potential of digitalisation and IoT (Internet of Things) in the forest products industry? According to Ovaska
- new competitive advantage that is hard to copy
- better customer / user satisfaction with lower costs to serve
- disrupt industry practices and our own ways of working
- next steps in cost competitiveness
- frontrunners will define the rules of the game.

Jyrki Ovaska's topic was the potential of digitalisation in the forest products industry.

Another keynote speaker, Prof. Ian Craig, Ex President of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC) talked about how the second machine age technologies – human brain power being replaced by digital technologies – are turning engineering services, including advanced process control, into a commodity. With the advances in sensing, digitisation, computation, storage, networking and software, all industries are becoming computable and democratised, making it possible for anyone with the requisite skills, from anywhere, to provide an advanced process control solution, and for more users to benefit from automation.

Prof. Craig said that the impact of the second machine age makes Lights-out process control – fully automated process plant in which no human intervention or supervision is needed – increasingly possible. However, people are still involved in designing, implementing, commissioning, maintaining and updating the controllers.

Prof. Ian Craig talked about the trends that are shaping the future of process automation.

Simo Säynevirta, Group Vice President, Platform Engineering, Digital ABB, told that customers will increasingly have to deal with very dynamic environments. The need for faster decisions and real-time action requires visibility of the entire business. Digitalisation and 5G are the answers for the necessary agility and decision-making velocity.

Why Cellular IoT is a promising approach for wireless connectivity in industrial domain? Because of its reliability, security, scalability and large ecosystem, explained prof. Riku Jäntti form Aalto University. After him prof. Sirkka-Liisa Jämsä-Jounela presented the Research Group of Process Control and Automation of Aalto University. A tremendous transition is taking place in the structures and operation of automation networks and hierarchy. In this transition, the aim of the group is to embed the relevant chemical engineering knowledge via mathematics and programming into processes in order to increase profitability and safety and to decrease environmental effects.

After the speeches three interesting demos – Ioncell-F, CHEMARTS, Process automation system for the factory of the future – were organized for the audience.

One of the demos showed how  the process automation system of the factory of the future works.

Wooden ceramics. CHEMARTS student Nina Riutta's experimental design project on how traditional ceramic technques can be applied within new material field. Material is TEMPO-oxidized nanocellulose.

(Photos: Crisztina Cziner and Helena Seppälä)

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