Nov 4, 2022
Combining innovative paper technology with advanced Valmet Industrial Internet solutions and services when making capital investments in the board and paper industry brings significant benefits. It ensures a rapid ramp-up, optimizes paper quality, boosts sustainability and saves total costs of ownership.
Behind every capital investment is a customer challenge that needs to be solved. Today, with the infinite opportunities provided by intelligent digital applications, such as the Valmet Industrial Internet (VII) solutions, papermakers can reach a new level in their production quickly after equipment start-up.
“When it comes to investments needed in mills, everyone tends to look at the process of developing a solution in a very linear way. It starts with the strategy and the needs – and then proceeds to the solutions, purchasing, commissioning and use. The operating expense (OPEX) issues are not typically addressed at all. When they arise later, they are typically more expensive to solve or finding a solution to the perceived need is often delayed. This means that many opportunities may be lost during the first years of equipment use. We want to challenge papermakers to anticipate the needs that will arise during the equipment ramp-up and use phases." says Lévi Dovillaire, Senior Paper Technology Manager, EMEA, Valmet.
As part of a capital project featuring Valmet’s process technology, the VII solutions and performance services make a significant difference from the very start. They improve operator skill development, operation uniformity and end-product quality by enabling a trade-off between reducing production costs and grammage range and compensating for a structural decline in recycled fiber quality. A rapid ramp-up is another big plus – along with better sustainability through lower energy use.
“Alan Kay, a visionary and a pioneer in computer science, once said that people who are really serious about software should make their own hardware. Well, who can better design a digital application than the machine builder?” Dovillaire asks.
Let’s look at an example of how Valmet creates added value for papermakers by combining a process technology solution, OptiSizer Hard, with a digital solution, Valmet Quality Predictor.
OptiSizer Hard is a completely new surface size application method. It uses higher nip loads to improve sheet strength properties by taking advantage of better starch penetration into the desired depth of the board surface.
Valmet Quality Predictor is an advanced Valmet Industrial Internet application that collects data from process measurements, quality control system (QCS), and paper machine automation. It shows continuous and real-time values for selected quality parameters, in this case, the strength properties of the board. It removes any waiting time for paper laboratory results and enables operators to act immediately in the early phase while staying within the given strength property limits on the optimal acceptance level.
“Traditionally it can take even one hour to get paper quality results from the lab. However, if you want to act faster and save one hour of production each time, you need to be able to predict paper strength online. The combination of these two Valmet solutions enables you to make perfect predictions. If you choose to complement the application later with Advanced Process Controls (APC), the function becomes fully automated,” Dovillaire explains.
Payback time for including this predictive application in the capital project is from two to three months. The combination lowers quality costs, while the stability of the process is easier to maintain and stays within quality limits.
Another perfect match is the combination of Valmet’s novel Sleeve roll technology and Valmet Centerline Advisor, which is another VII application.
Sleeve roll, a specially designed roll in the paper machine forming section, features a sleeve-like outer layer in which dewatering pressure is created with a shoe. Serving as the prepress, Sleeve roll forces the water out from the web by gently pressing the web along an engineered sloped surface between the forming fabrics. Applying pressure to the web as early as the forming section accelerates dewatering. Thanks to Sleeve roll, the top forming unit is vacuumless.
Valmet Centerline Advisor is an advanced Industrial Internet application that compares the current process status to the centerline of the best or selected historical performance. This history forms an operating window for a machine section where current running parameters are displayed and compared. The application gives an overview of the main process parameters and helps detect the process alignment and deviations at a single glance from the targeted operation window centerline.
Since Sleeve roll is a new component in mills and also in the industry, the challenge is to quickly understand the operating window and help the operators align with the learning as rapidly and as uniformly as possible between shifts. The Sleeve roll and Centerline Advisor combination ensures operational uniformity and best practices in every shift. What’s more, it ensures better dewatering control, reduces the needed vacuum and consequently saves energy.
“These two combinations are just a few examples of possible ways to boost papermaking. Valmet has a wide product portfolio from which we can provide a suitable combination of new technology and matching digital applications or service solutions that best meets the needs of each customer and provides the greatest benefits,” Dovillaire adds.
As pointed out earlier, it pays to anticipate the needs that lie ahead when equipment or machine is being ramped up and used in the coming years. Digital applications implemented at start-up enable you to tap into greater opportunities and reach better quality, learn faster and perform more swiftly in a unified manner, resulting in optimized total cost of ownership.
To find this synergy, you also have to look for it. Valmet challenges its customers’ traditional purchasing and project management by asking them to integrate the equipment lifecycle thinking into their overall approach to identify optimization opportunities.
Dovillaire goes on: “Roadmap discussions are an ideal way to do this. These discussions should start at the same time as the technology discussions do. Integrating lifecycle issues as key performance indicators in investment projects and making project teams responsible for OPEX issues allow them to reap the rewards of opportunities as soon as possible. All organizations and people are looking for ‘low-hanging fruit’ for business benefits. Here is one very clear and underused example that has a large beneficial potential for all parties.”
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