Forest & Bio crossborder event: Industry AI and automation keynote by Peter Wallin

Forest & Bio crossborder event was organized online 19.11 through Teams. The event attracted over 70 participants from industry, SMEs, and other actors from Finland and Sweden to hear and discuss the process and paper industry’s digital future.

This news story focuses on the keynote talk. A news story about Forest & Bio industry talks and SME presentations will be published later this week.

Keynote: Peter Wallin – Program Director of PiiA

The event began with the inspirational talk by Peter Wallin – Program Director of Process Industrial IT and Automation (PiiA) project. PiiA is Sweden’s national strategic innovation program which aims to help the Swedish process industry to grow by supporting the development of advanced IT and automation solutions. Peter introduced PiiA insight tool, which can be used to learn the current status of industrial digitalization. The project has been able to e.g increase the efficiency and the traceability of raw material measurements in the Swedish process industry.

Peter highlighted the process industry’s important role in the Swedish economy and emphasized that industrial digitalization activities are very important in today’s industry landscape. Digitalization is a driver for sustainability and autonomous activities in the industry pushing the process industry to new products and markets. Industrial digitalization is not just about technology development. It’s also about the acts which industry actors do to change their business models, processes, and ecosystems. Peter emphasized that industrial companies boards should have more courage to move to this new era of digitalization to achieve true success in their companies’ digital journey.

Peter highlighted AI’s and automation’s critical role in process industry digitalization. AI is here to stay and according to the estimations, it could lead up to 1,2% annual productivity improvements. This will lead to huge changes in the whole process industry.

“It is really industrial revolution” said Peter, and highlighted AI questions which process industry actors should be able to answer to prepare for these changes:

  • What are the driving forces behind AI and Automation?
    • What is their demand?
    • What is their technology supply?
  • How AI will change our industry?
  • What is our current status in the industrial AI-development?

The research indicates that the Swedish process industry has very good conditions to be successful globally in AI. Many Swedish process industry companies have already begun the AI work, but more work has to be done to find these companies’ best digital practices.

Peter continued by presenting three categories of digital innovators in the process industry which can be used categories all Swedish process industry companies. These categories are:

  • Group 1 (70-80% of companies): Companies that are exploring new technologies, and thinking about how they could be utilized. Some of these companies may start some digital innovation projects, but they don’t scale up or get the full commitment to leadership.
  • Group 2 (10-20% of companies): Companies which leadership has begun to realize that the company should invest in digitalization and leadership projects/pilots to achieve good results.
  • Group 3 (Less than 10% of companies): Companies which leadership is driving the commercialization of digital innovation and which start to see some payback results.

Next, Peter discussed the factors which industry companies should take into account to succeed in their digital innovation activities. These factors are:

  • Security
    • Your digital innovation activities have to address security concerns.
  • Standards
    • You have to have standards for your data and processes.
  • Interoperability
    • You have to have good interoperability capabilities between systems.
  • Leadership
    • Your leadership has to dare to test and implement digital innovation activities.
  • Drive
    • You need company-wide mindset for digital innovation.

Finally, Peter ended his keynote by highlighting the importance of data ownership:

"The ownership of data is a crucial topic for many industry companies. Companies are sitting on the data, and do not know what to do with it. These companies should create business models which can help to share data wisely. Meaning of the data is crucial: we have a lot of data, we do not need more of it, but we need to know where it is, is its quality good enough, and what it actually means."

This summed up Peter’s excellent keynote. To learn more about PiiA-project, please visit PiiA homepages.


Main contact and inquiries:

Peetu Virkkala, DigiProcess Project Researcher, University of Oulu, +358 45 644 3202,

Jani Sipola, DigiProcess Project Manager, Lapland University of Applied Science, +358 50 316 7677,


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