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Metsa Group: RFID will revolutionize the pulp industry

Metsä Group, a provider of tissue and cooking papers, board, pulp and wood products, is deploying RFID to better manage its pulp supply chain and order efficiency. The company hopes that adopting RFID will revolutionize the pulp industry as other suppliers deploy the technology.

The development is seen as a major advancement in the pulp and paper industry, similar to the current movement to get apparel suppliers to tag items at the source. RFID will be introduced at all Metsä Group’s pulp mills and most loading ports this spring.

“The RFID system we have developed for pulp has been open to [everyone] in the industry right from the start,” says Ari Harmaala, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Metsä Fibre, based in Finland.

“The real benefits will only be achieved once the main pulp suppliers use a common standard. We have shown the way and now the extensive introduction of the system in the pulp industry can begin.”

The company is utilizing almost 2.5 million UHF tags to track of 2.4 million tons of pulp. It delivers several different pulp grades and qualities to its customers globally.

At Metsä Fibre’s pulp mills, RFID tags are encoded and applied inside every pulp unit between bales, which hold one ton of pulp. Tags may be scanned with forklift readers, gate readers or handheld readers at any point in the logistics chain.

The RFID tags include the product’s lot number, grade name, the date of manufacture and the manufacturer itself. Pulp with an RFID tag meets product safety requirements and is suitable for food use.

By deploying RFID, pulp lot information will be known in real time at both the pulp storage location and ports. The change will enable savings in pulp flow management for all actors in the logistics chain.

By automating its processes with an RFID solution from Vilant, the company has a more efficient logistics processes and better customer service, and allows Metsä Group to find new ways to utilize its raw materials more efficiently.

One of the biggest benefits of deploying RFID comes from the assurance that Metsä Fibre’s customers have in knowing that they will receive products on time and in the right quantities. Metsä delivers several different pulp grades and qualities to its customers globally, for whom on-time delivery of the correct pulp product is a mission critical activity for continuous production.

To ensure uninterrupted production, many of Metsä Fibre’s customers keep extra stock on hand, which means higher costs. Deploying RFID means fewer shipping errors and a more efficient supply chain, giving customers the ability to keep less buffer stock. Metsä Fibre also improved the traceability of pulp units throughout the supply chain, allowing customers to trace material flow on arrival to customer mill sites.

“RFID supplements our range of technical services,” says Harmaala. “Accurate data on pulp characteristics enabled by RFID technology provide our customers with new opportunities to improve production effectiveness.”

Click here to view an in-depth video on how RFID is being used in the pulp industry.

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