Part of this emerging revolution is a data-driven management approach to enable key technical and operations management roles to be performed remotely, away from production sites. Increasingly, these will be in urban locations where key talent prefers to live rather than requiring moves to the typically rural settings of pulp and paper mills.
Not only will Generation Z’s digital natives have more choice and flexibility in their jobs, but the work will also be more exciting. Through Edge and Cloud-connected technologies, they will have visualization over the entire operations from afar. They will be able to contribute in enterprise-wide operations and CapEx planning, process and quality optimization and customer service. The ability to both make meaningful contributions and have insight into end-to-end operations will give more exposure and experience than has previously been possible for young recruits.
Expanded opportunity will also prove true for current pulp and paper professionals in the early-to-middle part of their careers. Their knowledge of the pulp and paper process coupled with a digital mindset will open career advancement, relocation and collaboration possibilities, helping to drive change through the powerful combination of understanding complex processes and analyzing data.
This means that large corporations with multiple mills can better leverage their resources. For example, they can have one control loop tuning expert sitting in New York, and remotely supporting those multiple mills or augmenting with the capability that ABB has always had to support operations remotely. These remote specialists can now each be brought in as and when needed, therefore increasing the quality of the output, which until now has been a particular challenge for single-entity mills who have to prioritize when and how to use expert support.
This is becoming more commonplace and revolutionizing the way that people work. For example, ABB successfully delivered a 90 percent remote commissioning of an end-to-end electrical solution for a major North American manufacturer which produced its first reel of paper in January. We have also been working with other customers to set up machines, modernize mills and install new drive systems, all without our experts leaving their home countries.
Whether you take an in-mill position or start in a remote-support position, the advancement opportunities have never been greater, especially if you can combine real-world experience with new process automation and advanced data analytics. These opportunities will be enhanced even more if you have the ability to maintain real relationships, showing a combination of soft and hard skills. Digitalization does not mean that you can hide behind your remote office; close colleague relationships continue to be crucial to success, and satisfaction, and we need to find a way to protect these.