Improved automation strengthen future pulp & paper industry

Improved automation can strengthen future of pulp & paper industry

6:09 AM, 15th November 2016
Anna Scharman, ABB, pulp & paper industry, automation, paper, eco-friendly.
Anna Scharman, Global Product Manager, Pulp Measurements, AB/Lorentzen & Wettre products, ABB.

In an interview Anna Scharman, Global Product Manager, Pulp Measurements, AB/Lorentzen & Wettre products, ABB with Chemical Today magazine talks extensively about the drastically changing demands from the pulp & paper industry and ways in which automation is making the paper more eco-friendly.

By Shivani Mody

Trends governing the pulp & paper process automation industry.

Overall the pulp & paper industry has long investment cycles and continues to increase by a few percent every year. A decline of investments for newspaper, printing and writing mills has been seen and paper machines are even closing in some parts of the world. Some mills have also converted towards liner and board machines which overall are more profitable.

Pulp mills have been investing in emerging markets and new mills have been built. In some parts of the world, for example in Europe, the recycling rate is very close to its maximum. The automation level is high in countries where manpower cost is high and usually lower in markets where the manpower is less expensive; it goes hand in hand.

Advancement in the pulp & paper industry for increased adoption of automation technology.

Improving automation will further reduce environmental impacts and will also reduce the use of raw material, water and energy, which is always an important driver for the industry. The pulp & paper industry has already come a long way since in many cases they are energy self-sufficient. There is a trend towards using the full potential of wood and wood fibres and develop new material for unfamiliar applications, for example in textile, cosmetics, pharma industries and food and beverage industry.

These novel materials will give new challenges to the pulp & paper industry and new automation solutions will be needed for its production and handling.

Mention the key market drivers for the growth of this industry.

Container board and packaging demand have increased due to internet shopping wherein consumer goods are being shipped in cardboard boxes all over the world. There has also been an increase in the use of tissues and towels in emerging markets due to the rise in the living standards among large parts of the population. The cost of manpower drives the investments in automation and differs globally. In some parts of the world, in Europe for example, the recycling rate is very close to its maximum and this gives new challenges to the market.

Paper grades that have the largest growth potential are liner and fluting (to make container board/packaging) and tissues and towels. We also feel that emerging markets will tend to look towards the mature markets and ask for the same level of automation to be competitive in the global scenario.

Overview of pulp & paper automation equipment business at ABB.

ABB offers a holistic range of products and system for the pulp and paper industry from electrification solutions to control systems that control and optimises the complete production. In our portfolio we have motors and drives especially fit for the pulp and paper industry, we offer advanced process controls and online process measurements. In addition, we have a wide range of quality control products for laboratory equipment, both standalone instruments and automated testing.

Benefits of the fibre analyser technology for pulp processing industry.

Our fibre morphology (fibre length, fibre width, shape, fines content etc), is measured through image analysis. We have a long heritage and therefore extensive knowledge in this area. In 2014, we released a new property to our portfolio - fibril perimeter, which correlates well with end grade strength.

This technology is available both for process and online applications as well as in the laboratory. We now complement our offer with a new property called L&W Crill, which is a non-imaged based method for detecting small particles in a pulp suspension.

How does the fibre analyser support the pulping industry?

Knowing your fibres is extremely important if you want to make paper, tissue, or board. If you do not know the fibre morphology of the pulp received from the pulp mill and how the fibres are treated in the stock preparation area, it will be difficult to achieve the right quality of the end product. By knowing your fibres and pulp, you can give the best possible condition for the paper maker to make the right end product. It is also important that the quality specification of the pulp is met and controlled already at the pulp mill. We have customers all over the world that use our fibre analysers for controlling and monitoring the pulp quality in both pulp mill and paper mill. By installing a fibre analyser, savings from raw material reduction, refining energy or steam demand is achieved.

Elaborate on your focus regarding R&D and innovation related to the pulp & paper automation solutions.

ABB conducts innovation and R&D at different levels and focuses on developing technologies for future products and services for ABB’s core businesses. We have ABB Corporate Research centres in Switzerland, Sweden and India that conducts elemental research and collaborates, to a large extent, with universities in all parts of the world. We also have local R&D departments all over the world that conduct research and development regarding our current offer.

Challenges and demands of the pulp & paper processing companies.

The change in consumer use of paper is already affecting the pulp & paper industry. The industry needs to continue being flexible and foresee the market trends. Finding feasible applications and production processes for new materials by utilising all parts of the tree is an interesting challenge. I have full confidence that the pulp & paper industry will continue to flourish since it is based on an excellent raw material that is environmentally friendly and possible to recycle repeatedly.

© Chemical Today Magazine

See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 20)

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