Foreword: Madeleine Parkås
Södra Innovation has been a business area in its own right for the last two years, reflecting its growing importance within Group strategy. As well as Project Manager, I’m responsible for the innovation area for pulp which includes the roadmap for Pulp within the company (the other roadmaps being Wood, Forestry, Chemicals, Energy and Textiles).
While the focus at Innovation is on development, of course, there is also a greater emphasis on business development than we might have had 10 years ago. At Innovation, we act as the interface between the mills, Forestry and Sales, working to bring innovative solutions to the market more quickly. A good example here is FiberSafe®, the first pulpable bale strap, which everyone from Technical Product Managers (TPM) to Sales and mill personnel were involved with. We heard from customers that wire straps have certain disadvantages and that they desired more sustainable alternatives. FiberSafe® is the result. Volumes are currently limited but the strap is proving popular so we are looking at ways to increase production.
Any innovation depends on input from our customers, of course, that’s where the push for something new starts. The TPMs are here to liaise between you, our customers, and us, looking at both product and process so we can improve our offering whenever possible. Production consistency and quality are always at the forefront of projects, and they are also the main focus of the roadmap.
That’s why we recently invested in four new fibre analysers at our mills, and why we work continuously to improve our prediction models to ensure robust and reliable measurements of important quality parameters, delivered to our customers in real time.
At the same time, we are constantly developing new tools to improve sustainability parameters and to help you reach your own environmental targets. We also take part in various collaborative EU projects which support innovation, on everything from dry-forming techniques to wet moulding, as sustainable materials seek to displace fossil-based materials in packaging, for example.
Timing is everything when it comes to bringing innovations to market and that is not always ours to control. But another essential aspect where we have more influence is collaboration. It’s often tempting to shy away from talking about new ideas within R&D departments in case they don’t make it to market, and it’s true that many don’t make it past our labs. But with greater collaboration as part of our own roadmap, we are seeking to change that and to involve customers earlier in the process – we firmly believe it will lead to better, faster results.
If we work together from the start, we can develop materials best suited to your processes and needs and together we can bring sustainable solutions to the market more quickly and effectively than we could alone. That is surely a win-win. It’s also why some of you may receive a call from us asking for your thoughts over the coming months as we actively look to bring you into our innovation process. And if we don’t call you, DO call us!
Madeleine Parkås, Project Manager, Innovation
Show all content for topic.