With the premise to enable the pulp & paper industry in becoming more sustainable and efficient, Haber provides AI+IoT based technology to analyse data by predicting results and driving value on a real-time basis. In an interview with Paper Mart, Mr. Prakash Sampath, Senior Technical Manager at Haber, throws light on the importance of strength aids in the pulp & paper industry and how Haber, through its innovative approach and AI-driven automation services, is transforming this space. Chemical applications through AI-based control have enabled paper mills to generate accurate and real-time insights which pave way for efficient process management. In addition to improving efficiency, AI-based solutions also help in achieving sustainability goals by reducing energy consumption and the carbon footprint. Haber’s AI-based solutions have exhibited impressive results in several processes like retention and drainage, microbial control, scale control, dissolved air flotation, and others. This interview focuses on the AI-driven strength aid program.
“Haber through its proprietary platform eLIXA® can automate the process of adding strength aid additives, improving the overall effectiveness of the process. When driven by AI control, the process becomes predictable, leading to better quality products and reduced costs of production.”
Paper Mart: Can you tell us in brief about strength aids and how important they are to paper production?
Prakash Sampath: Paper strength measured via burst or tensile strength is one of the critical end-product qualities which manufacturers keep in mind throughout the paper production process. It varies depending on the type of fiber used as each raw material has its own properties. The chemical bonding between the fibers drives the strength properties of the paper. To achieve the desired quality in the paper, paper mills use different chemistries of strength aids which improve the dry and wet strengths. In addition to improving strengths, these chemicals also help in improving retention and drainage and machine runnability. They also help reduce basis weight and chemical costs. Thus, the impact of the strength aid program is not only limited to achieving the desired paper strength but also extends to several aspects of paper production.
PM: How do paper mills usually achieve the desired strength and what are the challenges in doing the conventional way?
PS: Many gums, synthetic polymers, and vegetable extracts are used as dry strength additives. For instance, some of them include amphoteric and cationic starches, natural gums (guar), glyoxalated cationic resins, polyacrylamides, Carboxymethyl cellulose, modified polyamine, etc. Similarly, there are different types of wet strength additives. Currently, chemical addition and monitoring is done manually at most paper mills. When done manually, it becomes prone to errors. Poor control on strength aid application will have a huge impact on the paper production process. Improper dosage affects chemistries, causes variation in cationic demand, and affects the drainage characteristics in the wire part. Overdosing or underdosing of chemicals will impact the product quality and lead to higher rejects during quality checks. It drives the cost of production as well.
PM: What products/services provided by you can help paper mills in the strength aid program?
PS: Haber through its proprietary platform eLIXA® can automate the process of adding strength aid additives, improving the overall effectiveness of the process. When driven by AI control, the process becomes predictable, leading to better quality products and reduced costs of production. Haber provides complete dry and wet end strength aids to improve and sustain the process requirement through its expertise and testing techniques.
PM: How can paper mills benefit from automation in strength aid program?
PS: Artificial intelligence-driven automation enables Haber to continuously monitor the chemistries and fine-tune the chemical dosage to help maintain the wet end chemistry, improve product quality, process efficiency, and increase overall cost savings. Automation is based on inputs such as production rate and process variations. It also monitors critical parameters in real-time, which enables the implementation of a superior strength aid program. It replaces the manual process and reduces the scope of errors as well. In addition to strength improvement, it helps achieve improved machine runnability, increased drainage, and reduced dusting issues.
PM: Why is automation the way ahead to solve such critical issues?
PS: With demand for paper products shooting up every passing day, there is a need to expand production rapidly. This would be impossible without improving the efficiencies of the system. AI-driven automation helps production through its real-time monitoring and data-driven decision-making. Identifying variations in process parameters in real-time helps in taking prompt corrective actions, and thereby, maintaining superior product quality and overall system efficiency. When decisions are driven through data observed over a period, it helps to arrive at the right decisions. This makes the entire system robust and helps achieve improved production and consistent quality products. As it has been in the case of several industries, AI will play a key role in transforming the paper industry and early adopters will have a competitive advantage.