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World’s fastest coated board machine offers exciting opportunities for Ji’an Group

The Ji’an Group Co., Ltd’s new PM 3 enables the company to optimize its raw material costs and to become a major producer of coated board. The novel curtain coating technology provides the mill with more furnish options to choose from.

Ji’an’s containerboard production line, PM 3, went on stream in 2011, and its curtain coating process was started up in early 2012. The 7.25 m-wide Valmet* OptiConcept machine is located at the company’s Papermaking Operation Center in Haiyan County, Jiaxing City in Zhejiang Province, China. Its daily production capacity is approximately 1,900 tonnes of coated and uncoated white top testliner in the basis weight range of 130-280 g/m2, mainly without virgin fiber.

PM 3 is the world’s fastest coated board machine, with a mechanical design speed of 1,200 m/min. It features an OptiLayer multilayer curtain coating unit (today OptiCoat Layer) that applies two coating layers on the web simultaneously in a non-contact operation with no speed restrictions. Curtain coating provides full coverage for brown base sheets. The uniform-coverage coating layer makes it possible to run the machine without expensive bleached fiber in the furnish.

Ji’an chose Valmet to supply the new line for clear reasons. “First, Valmet has the technology and the capability. Second, earlier cooperation between Valmet and Ji’an has resulted in great achievements,” explains Feng Junxian, Deputy General Manager of the Ji’an Group.

Many interesting challenges yet to overcome

PM 3 now enables Ji’an to enter the Chinese coated board market, which is expected to grow in the future. The mill’s long-term objective is not only to replace uncoated grades with coated ones but also to acquire market share from higher-quality virgin-fiber based board grades. The company aims to improve its product quality and produce more board for its own packaging operations. “Since the market is huge and the competition fierce, supply sometimes exceeds demand. To stand out from the competition, you need to produce high-quality board at a competitive price.” Feng Junxian points out.

Shu Junming   "Our customers want high quality board at a low price”, says Shu Junming, Vice General Manager of the Ji’an Group Paper Business Unit

New technology has technical and profit-making potential

One of the key drivers for the investment was to optimize raw material costs by being able to use cheaper OCC-based furnish instead of more expensive virgin fiber. “We have calculated that the cost savings will be from around 200 RMB to 300 RMB per produced paper tonne on the basis of the price of the furnish. We can see both technical and profit-making potential in the new technology,” Feng Junxian adds.

“It would have been very difficult for us to be competitive with traditional coating technology,” says Shu Junming, Vice General Manager of the Ji’an Group Paper Business Unit. “In order to face the future challenges and tough competition, our production line has to be more capable and able to produce something unique. Our customers want high quality at a low price. We can only meet these customer requirements with curtain technology.”

 

World premiere of Valmet Vacuum Forming Board and a new type of reel

PM 3 features several innovative solutions developed by Valmet which are being used for the first time at a Chinese paper mill. In addition to the curtain coating technology, other novelties include the vacuum-assisted Valmet Vacuum Forming Board** and a completely new type of reel. In fact, this is the world premiere of these two solutions. “The forming section featuring the Valmet Vacuum Forming Board has worked well, in fact, even better than the older versions on our other machines,” remarks Wang HanMin, Vice General Manager of the Ji’an Group. “In general, I think that the reel is good, and its structure occupies less space. Its biggest advantage is that it is very convenient to operate, repair and maintain. The most visible novelty of the reel is its integrated reel spool storage. Thus, the accessibility has been improved because the height of the reel is significantly lower compared with conventional reels.

Wang HanMin expresses special thanks to Valmet’s installation staff. “We were left with a good feeling about Valmet’s commitment and service. Whenever there was a problem, we worked it out together. Valmet is wise using more Chinese engineers than the other suppliers do. It is always an advantage to know about local habits and ways of communication,” says Wang HanMin.

Plans to invest in packaging

Ji’an intends to build more than ten new packaging plants in China and aims to be among the top 3 companies in the Chinese packaging business. Being able to use high-quality coated board that has been produced cost-efficiently at the Group’s own mill will naturally be an invaluable asset in reaching this goal. “The most important property in coated board is its printing property, such as printing ink adhesion and the re-appearance of the mesh point, followed by smoothness and brightness. Stiffness is helpful when it comes to packaging, package shaping and printing,” Xia ShuangQuan continues.“If the board has good stiffness, it will run more smoothly during the whole printing process. Therefore, what I value most are runnability and the brand, since a good brand stands for good material.”

The future looks good for the Ji’an Group. Seamless cooperation between the manufacturer and users of the board makes it easy to enhance the quality and characteristics of the products. An open-minded approach to new ideas and technologies gives the company a sharp competitive edge.

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*Metso (Paper) until Dec. 31, 2013
**earlier known as VacuBalance