Pulp and paper industries focus on innovation, energy savings

Control Engineering International: Process control and IT department integration, virtualization, information integration, and energy efficiency are among innovations for the pulp and paper industries, Honeywell told Control Engineering China.


When it comes to the future of the pulp and paper industries, we often think about the tight relationship between IT and process control technology. The process control departments of some paper mills used to be independent of IT departments. However, recent trends find many paper mills consolidating the two into one department as they share the same systems, such as virtualization technology. Other trends include information integration, energy efficiency, and wider use of sensors in the pulp and paper industries.

Virtualization applications are getting more popular. A large paper mill has perhaps 260 PCs and field workstations. A computer’s life span, including software and hardware, is about 3 years, resulting in a high maintenance cost for a paper mill. Using virtual machines can reduce the cost of purchase and maintenance, for plant control and management areas.

Today’s paper mills have achieved real-time cost control over production. Pulp and paper companies also are implementing quality systems, data collection systems, and networked inspection systems, which still are independent of each other.

Using the Honeywell Optivision manufacturing execution system (MES), the paper mill can access real-time data from the distributed control system (DCS) and create advantages by integrating these systems. It enables real-time cost control and delivers a more optimized production plan and higher visibility. It also provides new data support for production decisions. Zhanjiang Chenming Pulp and Paper Co. in China implemented the first real-time cost control system to monitor the cost of paper. Chenming Paper can access the data on inventory, chemicals, and energy consumed to calculate the cost anytime.

New sensor technology for the pulp and paper industries has always been an important research area for Honeywell, which has introduced many new sensors for these industries. For example, a Honeywell-equipped quality-control system (QCS) with faster camera sensors, higher frequency, and PPI measures uniformity, fiber orientation, and paper smoothness. These sensors can be mounted on a QCS to scan the paper back and forth to find potential defects.

Energy savings is an important issue for the pulp and paper industries. There are many ways to save energy. For example, by improving QCS control system performance, we can reduce the waste paper and other waste during production. MES (such as Honeywell Optivision) can improve slitting optimization and recheck efficiency, reduce 5% trimming, and save pulp and chemicals. New technology also can help with energy saving. For instance, Honeywell sensors can measure dehydration in press parts. To improve economy and reduce steam consumption, the paper mill tries to improve web dryness before moving the paper to the dryer. During the drying process, 90%-95% heat is used to vaporize the water in paper. A 1% moisture decrease means 5% heat saved. By monitoring the actual moisture, we can decide if we need to add more steam boxes to dry the paper. (The higher the pulp temperature, the faster the dewatering speeds are. To improve productivity and reduce steam consumption, we can mount steam boxes on the wire and press parts of the paper machine, and heat the paper web using steam to improve the temperature and dewatering speed.) This sensor can work independently in high temperatures (no cooling system is required) and other rigorous environments, and it doesn’t need cables or auxiliary components.

The pulp and paper industries are starting to apply innovations as they look at how new technologies can achieve energy savings.

- Brad Garnett, marketing director for pulp, paper and continuous web solutions (CWS), Honeywell, provided comments to Control Engineering China. Edited by Mark T. Hoske, content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media.



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