Valmet’s fire fighting system, IR scanner detection system, and blade change TIPs prevent fires, promote safety

Each year, industrial fires are responsible for thousands of worker injuries or deaths, and millions of dollars in property damage and product loss.

Given the fiber-based nature of its products, the pulp and paper industry is particularly susceptible to fire risk. Highly flammable short-fiber cellulose, combustible dust, and potential sources of ignition (e.g., static electricity, frictional heating, hot equipment surfaces, etc.) can easily combine to invite danger and, often, total devastation.

With a projected global market value of $368 billion (USD) and a workforce of thousands, the pulp and paper industry certainly has a lot to lose. It is also one wherein tissue converters and other paper makers are commonly protected by outmoded fire detection equipment.

Older systems are designed to quickly detect and extinguish ignited fires. However, commonly malfunctioning sensors and unpredictable high-pressure water mist extinguishing technology make them only partially effective. Add in the complexity and costs of installation, and the drawbacks mount.

Valmet is deeply committed to safety. The existing gap in reliable fire protection for tissue manufacturers and converters was unacceptable, leading to two technical improvement projects (TIP) developed to protect people, equipment, and products.

Fire fighting system TIP

The Valmet fire fighting system TIP is specifically designed to protect every kind of environment and every machine shape and type, regardless of brand.

At the heart of the self-diagnostic fire fighting system TIP lies the sensitive piping system (SPS), a network of copper pipes that are self-loaded with compressed air and outfitted with highly sensitive pressure meters managed by its own controller.

This particular type of measurement device ensures the SPS is not affected by dust or other environmental factors, and that it can precisely monitor pressure and temperature fluctuations through self-learned algorithms. Additionally, operators are not required to enter a machine that could possibly be on fire or malfunction because of a fire, keeping them safe.

If pressure and temperature thresholds are exceeded, the SPS alarm is sent via SMS or email to key personnel to indicate pre-fire conditions are present. An actual fire triggers release of a flame suppressing low-pressure water mist “fog” through sprinklers directly connected to the main hydraulic system — no purified water tanks or suppression pumps are required.

Valmet technology has yet again advanced thinking on how fire protection needs to perform. The fire fighting system TIP is uniquely able to detect out-of-sight flames or hidden fires, which means it protects an entire machine, including areas not directly exposed to the fire detection system.

This progressive thinking inspired Valmet engineers to develop a second TIP for monitoring cliché roller temperatures and protecting tissue embossing equipment and the machine operators.

IR scanner detector system TIP

The Valmet IR scanner detector system TIP continuously monitors cliché roller temperature during full-speed production on embossers with glue units. A lack of glue (or water in the case of Aquabond) or a gluing system malfunction commonly cause elevated surface temperatures. The overheating could damage cliché roller coatings or result in defective products, so early intervention by the IR scanner detector system is invaluable.

The infrared sensor-based system deploys a mobile mirror that runs along the entire length of the cliché roller. From its raised position above the embossing machine, the system gathers signals from the mirror and translates them to temperature data. Any deviation in temperature from the pre-set maximum stops the machine to prevent roller damage or unsatisfactorily glued tissue products. Stoppage also aids in fire suppression should flames ignite.

In addition to preserving the integrity of the equipment and products, the IR scanner detector system promotes worker safety. The system automates temperature assessment so operators do not have to enter the machine to perform multiple manual measurements. 

Blade change TIP

Removing the need to enter machines eliminates one of the most dangerous tasks performed by operators on tissue manufacturing and converting lines. This is particularly true as it relates to a log saw blade changeover, which usually happens with the converting line running.

Valmet spearheaded the industry push toward safer, more efficient tissue converting equipment with the 179AX Log Saw and a patented push-button changeover system that ensures complete operator safety. Workers are never required to enter the machine for blade replacement, grinding wheel adjustments, or diameter and format changes.

Thereafter, Valmet developed the Blade Change TIP to similarly outfit other 176 and 177 series log saws. Like the system within the 179AX Log Saw, the Blade Change TIP offers:

  1. Enhanced operator safety: No exposure to danger during log saw blade changeovers
  2. Line efficiencies: Blade changes are completed in 3 minutes, with no line downtime
  3. Cost savings: Blade life is extended by up to 30% compared to traditional blade changeovers

A tissue converting operation doesn’t have to be completely destroyed to be debilitated by fire. Similarly, one unfortunate event that puts an operator in peril can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, plus weeks of costly downtime.

Mitigating risk for tissue manufacturers is the impetus behind the simple, reliable, and smart Valmet fire fighting system, IR scanner detector system, and blade change TIPs. Contact Valmet to learn more about how these advanced technologies provide keen protection for your operation.

1Fortune Business Insights, Pulp and Paper Market Size, Share, Analysis | Industry Trends, 2027, Undated