Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Georgia-Pacific creates space for supply chain companies to innovate

Steve Rogerson
May 22, 2018

Paper maker Georgia-Pacific is bringing together supply chain companies to study robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and autonomous vehicles at its Point A Center for Supply Chain Innovation.
Opening this June in an initial 1400 square metres at Atlanta's TechSquare Labs, the centre will serve as a collaborative space for businesses ranging from multi-national corporations to emerging start-ups and academic institutions.
Georgia-Pacific is investing between $5m and $7m in the centre and has begun recruiting members. The first organisations to offer their capabilities and expertise include Chick-fil-A, Delta Air Lines, Genuine Parts, Grainger and Siemens, as well as Georgia-Pacific's parent company Koch Industries.
Point A's members will explore use cases for applying Industry 4.0 innovations, including robotics, artificial intelligence, blockchain, machine learning and autonomous vehicles, among others, to tackle some of the supply chain's most pressing problems, including retail models, network efficiency and data visibility.
"Now more than ever before we're seeing a greater emphasis on digitalisation, automation and advanced analytics in plants and warehouses," said Kevin Heath, Georgia-Pacific senior vice president and chief procurement officer. "Supply chain leaders are trying to unlock the potential of current and future technologies, and we believe collaborating with the best minds will help drive innovation at a faster pace."
Over the next couple of years, Georgia-Pacific has plans to move Point A into a new, dedicated 2100-square-metre space within its downtown GP Center headquarters. Also planned is an additional 2800 square metres of warehouse space for proof-of-concept testing; its location has yet to be determined.
"The pressure for business transformation is both a challenge and an opportunity, but there's no wait-and-see," said Christian Fischer, Georgia-Pacific president and CEO. "Point A will focus on solutions in the supply chain that will ultimately serve customers faster and more reliably, as well as provide a superior brand experience for an end-consumer."
Beyond its benefits for supply-chain-focused companies, Point A will bolster Atlanta's position as supply chain city, the transformation of Atlanta's physical supply chain assets into a digital ecosystem powered by the IoT, claiming another area of technology for a city already respected in fintech and cyber-security circles.
"One of the biggest areas of opportunity for Atlanta is a private industry-led shared space for commercialising supply chain and logistics technologies," said Ben Harris, director of supply chain ecosystem expansion for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. "Point A bridges that gap, creating a new paradigm aimed at enhancing supply chain flexibility, connectivity and advanced supply chain planning."
Matt Markham, director of the centre of innovation for logistics at the Georgia Department of Economic Development, added: "We see Point A as a chance to demonstrate how the state's technology resources can be an asset for supply-chain-driven companies and an opportunity to leverage Georgia's unique competitive advantage in logistics infrastructure. By promoting collaboration and developing solutions that will benefit the entire supply chain, we'll strengthen Georgia's leadership position as the south's global gateway."
Based in Atlanta, Georgia-Pacific and its subsidiaries are manufacturers and marketers of bath tissue, paper towels and napkins, tableware, paper-based packaging, office papers, cellulose, specialty fibres, nonwoven fabrics, building products and related chemicals. Consumer brands include Quilted Northern, Angel Soft, Brawny, Dixie, EnMotion, Sparkle, Mardi Gras, Vanity Fair and Stainmaster household cleaning products. The company operates nearly 200 facilities and employs around 35,000 people directly and creates nearly 92,000 jobs indirectly.