Stora Enso’s packaging board is truly a team effort: the result of focused production practices, reliable technologies, a passion for quality control and full supply chain traceability, and the quest for perfect printability and convertability. It all comes together at the Beihai mill site in China.
The construction of this greenfield production facility in Guangxi province in southern China began in 2002 with the creation of plantations to grow eucalyptus forests, followed by a production unit later, recalls General Manager Pentti Ilmasti: “At the time, there was no single domestic Chinese coated board producer approved by big international converting companies. Lead times and distances between European mills and China are long. For us, the biggest liquid packaging producer globally, it was natural to support our global converting customers in their growth targets. We wanted to be close to our customers.”
"This has been a very successful project. The design of the board machine is good. It’s reliable, with smooth runnability, and our people have learned to use it quickly. And Valmet’s start-up crew was great, a true hardworking and results-oriented team."
In 2016, the Valmet-supplied board production line in Beihai started up. “Starting up a greenfield mill is never easy because everything is new: you have a new team, a new machine, new infrastructure,” explains Board Mill Director Weiyan Zhu. “When there are several parties involved, good teamwork and communication are crucial to getting everything ready for the start-up. Life’s not like the movies, and of course, it doesn’t all go perfectly smoothly – that’s just not realistic. But we noticed that Valmet was very quick at solving problems and quickly taking corrective action,” he continues.
The start-up of the Beihai mill has been faster than expected. “We got web-on-reel and sellable board in two days. We had a target start-up curve that we needed to follow, but we actually went ahead of the start-up curve pretty quickly,” says Weiyan Zhu. “Customer feedback has been positive. We’ve already tested quite a lot of different grades, and they meet our converting customers’ expectations in terms of quality. This naturally puts more positive pressure on us: we need to start delivering more volume to the market.”
Ilmasti confirms the quality development: “This has been a very successful project. The design of the board machine is good. It’s reliable, with smooth runnability, and our people have learned to use it quickly. And Valmet’s start-up crew was great, a true hardworking and results-oriented team.”
Currently, the mill is producing folding boxboard, but Ilmasti says that they aim to be a significant supplier of liquid packaging board and other food packaging materials soon.
“We got web-on-reel and sellable board in two days. We had a target start-up curve that we needed to follow, but we actually went ahead of the start-up curve pretty quickly.
“It’s the people who run the machine and create the quality,” says Ilmasti, giving credit to his team. “We’re a great team, and mostly a Chinese organization. We have fresh young faces mixed with seasoned professionals, and we’ve been able to create a high-performing team. Most of our people have been trained in European mills.”
Weiyan Zhu continues: “We were also supported by Valmet, and we had the same target: to make the start-up and ramp-up successful. That is also why we’ve had good co-operation. After the normal tune-up period, we’ve decided to continue the cooperation after the takeover service. We initially signed a six-month contract and then extended it for six more months. We think this is a valuable service. Together, we put things on the table and try to find solutions, and that is the right way to progress.”
The new OptiConcept coated board machine is the heart of the mill. In order to secure the good start-up, ramp-up and quality development, Stora Enso chose modern technology, with a strong focus on reliability and stability. “Valmet has been our partner for a long time. They created this tailor-made concept and were flexible regarding our needs. These are unique machines, so I don’t think there are two similar consumer board machines in the world,” says Ilmasti.
According to Production Manager Fu Zhigang, the technological highlights of the machine are the tail threading and the reel turn-up system. “Our stock-on-wire to reel record is 26 minutes,” he says. The reel is the first of its kind in China. The linear reel is a completely new way to reel parent rolls. Instead of having a high structure reel spool storage and lowering the arms, the reel spools and parent rolls move on solid rails, resulting in a continuous and trouble-free reeling process. Center-driven reels have proven to be excellent for preserving coated board surface and sheet properties.
Simon Xie, Product and Process Development Manager, is pleased with the functioning of the press section: “The pickup sequence is perfect! It is easy to use and reliable. The wider dryer section is also good.” He also sees that the Valmet IQ quality control system (QCS) and the Valmet DNA machine controls (MCS) are very important for good runnability and stable quality. “Currently, the system is working well and we’re focusing on getting more even CD profiles.”
The BCTMP (bleached chemi-thermomechanical pulp) line and the board machine are tied together in both capacity and quality. “For us, lightweighting is a selling point, and that’s why we selected a Valmet BCTMP plant. We try to produce better-quality BCTMP and benefit from the bulk-strength combination. Then we can produce, from the raw material side, lighter packaging boards,” says Weiyan Zhu. “We had the same project organization for the machine and the BCTMP. Using the same supplier for both has benefits: communication is easy, solutions to challenges are found quickly, and there nobody tries to dodge their responsibility.”
Another benefit is that spare parts inventory can be optimized, as both the BCTMP and stock preparation have similar type refiners. “It’s handy, as mechanical seals, for example, can be shared. We also have some ideas for segment sharing,” says BTCMP Production Manager Jason Xing. The start-up of the BCTMP was delayed by half a year due to permit-related issues. “After the start-up, we had some struggles, but we always felt supported by Valmet. Valmet stayed with us over both Christmas and Chinese New Year, too,” says Xing with a laugh. The current production situation is stable with good quality.
Ilmasti is facing the future with confidence. “We are an efficient unit, and we’re aiming even higher. We want to serve our customers the best we can, and we want to be profitable. Our people are hardworking, result-oriented, and highly ambitious. That’s very important for our future success,” he says.
BCTMP line enables optimal bulk-strength combination that enables lightweighting
A world-class OptiConcept liquid packaging board making line
Site services and training, spare rolls and critical spare and wear parts and fabrics for the board machine start-up.
The delivery will also include related air systems, chemical systems as well as stock preparation and auxiliary systems