The first OptiFiner Pro refiner in Southern Europe started up in Cartiere Ermolli mill in Northern Italy at the beginning of 2014. The new refiner replaced two existing refiners at PM 1, increasing the overall refining capacity significantly and reducing energy consumption by at least 20%.
Cartiere Ermolli has a long history in papermaking as their mill in Moggio Udinese, at the foot of the Carnic Alps, was founded already in 1922 and the papermaking in the area started as early as in 1758. Cartiere Ermolli produces specialty grades for flexible packaging like food wrapping papers. “When you create specialty papers like we do, doing refining right is fundamental,” explains Gilio Munaro, the Mill Manager at Cartiere Ermolli. “As raw material, we use both short and long pure virgin fibers. You do not want to lose any mechanical properties of the fiber, so the amount and the quality of the refining must be right, without any harmful cutting effects,” he continues.
“When we realized that the capacity of the existing refining system needed an increase, it was easy to start searching for a solution with Valmet. We already had five Valmet supplied Conflo refiners that perform well,” explains Operations Manager Loris Not, about the factors affecting the supplier selection.
“Absolutely the most positive part of the new refiner is its simplicity and the unique operating principle,” Not says. “Since the new refiner was installed, it has been easier to achieve the paper characteristics we need. The refining process is controlled by suction roll vacuum, as before, but it’s now much easier to control the process.” The mill now achieves the same degree of refining while using at least 20% less energy with a simultaneously much higher capacity.
“We’re very satisfied with the high availability of the refiner. The maintenance is easy and the amount of maintenance work needed is really low. We’re continuing the optimization project with Valmet to get the filling lifetime to an even higher level,” Not explains. “I do feel that I have to warn that you need to be careful if you are used to working in manual operation,” Not notes, with a smile. “The OptiFiner Pro refiner is fully automated, so we noticed that we needed a totally new mindset to work with it in order to get the best results.”
“We are committed to serving our customers in the best possible way and we value highly the satisfaction of our customers,” explains Munaro about the future plans of Cartiere Ermolli. “We’re lucky to have customers that trust us to continuously improve our end products to better meet their needs. We see that the new, more controlled refining process is an advantage for us and helps when working to reach this target. This new refiner technology might also open up possibilities for us to get even better production efficiency by implementing it in further positions.”