As a leading provider of machines and tools for refining, screening, stock preparation, and reject handling, Parason is the Indian parallel to global standard and is now taking its expertise forward to paper machine and converting sections to furnish innovative retrofits with the help of automation and mechatronics.
In an interview with Paper Mart recently Mr. Kishor Desarda, Commercial Director, Parason Machinery (I) Pvt. Ltd.; Mr. Madhure Desarda, Technical Director, Parason Machinery (I) Pvt. Ltd.; and Mr. Muralidhar Ekambaram, President – Parason Mechtronics division, Parason Machinery (I) Pvt. Ltd. talked in detail about Parason’s current engagements in improving its product lines to suit the present efficiency and resource optimization needs of the pulp and paper industry. They also divulged many details as to how Parason is geared to use mechatronics in their latest expansion drive to furnish the industry new machines with smart automations in areas where they have not been very active traditionally, viz, paper machine, pope reel, converting section, etc. Detailed Interview: .
Paper Mart: Would you please give us a brief background of Parason from the start itself and where the company has reached currently in terms of technology offering to the paper industry?
Kishor Desarda: Parason was started in the year 1975 by Dr. Champalalji Desarada. Parason has been serving the paper industry across the globe in terms of complete pulping, refining and cleaning solutions. We have set up more than 600 pulp line worldwide, ranging from as small as 25 tonnes per day to as big as 500 tonnes per day. Over the years, Parason has emerged as more of a solution provider rather than being merely an equipment manufacturer. We now have better pulping, refining and screening solutions in sync with power saving approaches. Besides, we are also covering all areas of stock preparation. We have come up with polydisc filter, and we also have a better centricleaner systems and solution than before.
Moreover, Parason is setting up a full-fledged pulp refining and screening lab to help the industry in doing pulp related R&D. More often, people come with their own pulp and need a full-fledged facility to assess the characteristics of pulp on a small scale or pilot basis, say 50-100 kg. They want to see the result of refining, screening, and cetricleaning on their pulp. We have already got an approval from DSIR to set up the lab. We are buying 40-50 testing equipment along with refiners. In addition, we already have a DSIR (Department of Scientific and Industrial Research of India) recognized metallurgy R&D lab.
Furthermore, we have plans for expansion. We are coming up with better refiner plates and solutions. We have also added good designing capabilities. We have now around 38 people in design and simulation. We are also going for simulation, CFDs, finite element analysis, 3D modeling and all. That is helping us understand the problems rather much ahead of time than actually going to the field to understand it.
PM: You have joined Parason around 1.5 years back. What do you think you are adding to the company and how would you be taking the legacy of serving the industry?
Madhure Desarda: As Kishor said earlier, the Parason pilot lab will help us immensely in shaping the products apart from helping customers. The design and simulation facility at the lab would render us great help in understating the pros and cons of a new machine as prototype. Simulation test results will help us greatly in eliminating snags before we really try making the machine in real time. We are planning to bring it on the industrial level.
Today, the cost of reject handling and other environmental compliances are going quite high. Parason is aware of this aspect and is developing lots of efficient reject handling equipment. For example, we have recently come up with fiber miser, which is a combination of deflaker and pressure screen. There is also combi screen, a combination of pressure screen and turbo separator. All these equipment will reduce the size of the rejects in the paper mill and make the handling much easier and environmental friendly.
To add here, in the field of screening and refining, we have been doing great development and coming up with welded refiner disc, which is reducing the power intake significantly. Recently, we have done case studies at ITC and OPM (Orient Paper Mill) and we saw that our efforts have resulted in a significant amount of power saving in refining. We did centralized refining proposal for them and they have saved crores in power. Parason has also received strategic supplier award from ITC. OPM has given us a certificate for power saving. We have really been a good import substitute for all the Indian customers.
PM: Pulp being the fundamental to the paper industry, how important is it to install a good refining and cleaning system for the pulp? Apart from cleaning and quality improvement, what other things do your refiners and cleaners desire to furnish?
MD: It’s not about quality only but it is also about sustainability. You cannot produce a good paper today and bad paper tomorrow. It has to be a sustainable and economical solution so that you can serve the end customers in a much better way. There is a learning curve where the industry is learning, suppliers are learning, and everyone around is learning. The new products coming in the market are raising the bar of quality for the customer, suppliers, or whosoever is involved in papermaking. In this learning curve, we are learning and improving every day. With Parason, the good thing is, from the last 40 years, we have been collecting data from the customers. We are learning and evolving through this process.
In refining, a few years ago, there was a trend of fine-bar. Everyone started using the same. Now it is about centralized refining. Things earlier were on a smaller scale. But, if you have four different paper machines, each with separate refining systems, it is definitely going to cost you more even if you put the fine-bar. If you go for centralized refining instead, it will be much economical than the fine-bar refining. People are experimenting and learning through their experiences.
PM: How reject handling is impacting the overall environmental footprint requirements?
MD: In India, the raw material collection is not very good. You may have anything in the paper coming to your mill. You need to separate all those things like plastic, clips, sand, clay, etc. If you separate it at a certain appropriate stage, it would prove very economical. For example, if you pass the raw material with all impurities through the whole system, it is very hard to separate. But if you take out easily retrievable elements in the very first stage, it becomes less complex. For example, if you are using fiber miser, you are deflaking the paper along with separating all the plastics and light rejects simultaneously. Besides, rejects has to be very compact – the less size would mean less transportation cost and it would easy to sell the plastic and metal. This entire reject handling system is helping the paper industry to handle rejects nicely, safely, neatly, and in whole.
PM: You have global competitors too who have been supplying to India as well. How is Parason positioned today in competing with global players, and how has the Indian industry responded to you so far in terms of technology.
KD: Our other competitors have been there as a technology provider for more than a century. And definitely, they have a bigger base in terms of overall solution providing. But, at Parason, we are essentially focused on Pulp Mill solutions.. In India, if we talk about import substitute, we are at par with all the solution providers in refiner plates and there has been a good amount of case studies in all the mills starting from ITC and JK to BILT, where we were competing with them, and yes, we have replaced them at many of the places. I wouldn’t deny that they have a much bigger product basket and are bigger than us. They are doing research across the globe and have sound customer and technology base. In few segments, we are competing with them at a good level.
PM: Indian industry is seen as quite cost-conscious in terms of investing in technology. As Parason has been able to provide the technology at par with the global competitors, have you been able to get the right value from the customers in return?
KD: I think we are talking about the value proposition. A customer’s willingness to pay depends on your value proposition and I think our products are value for money. We are competing with the big competitors on both the fronts that are technology and pricing. We are able to offer customers good-value-for-money products and also we are working with our customer very closely which helps us understand their real pains and design solution accordingly. It’s a better value proposition for our customers.
MD: Indian market is very cost sensitive. If you can produce something with good quality and sell it here, you can sell it across the globe. That is how we see it. I think this is one of the reasons why we are able to export in 60 countries.
PM: As you have already said, your competitors have a wider product basket to offer, and you are somehow focusing on pulp mill, cleaning and refining systems so far. Is there any plan to widen your own product basket in the times to come?
KD: If we could see the overall power consumption and power-heat ratio across the mill, more than 33 percent, and below 35 percent, power is consumed in pulping and refining itself. It’s the major chunk of cost which is involved in it. As a solution provider or as an equipment manufacturer, we are manufacturing few of the other equipment as well, but we want to be focused and leader at stock preparation equipment and refining, cleaning, and screening solutions as of today.
Our competitors are there in cement and food processing industry. But as a product basket, we want to be specialized in all what I said. And, we have been doing the job for the last four decades. I think that is what our USP is and that’s why people know us. We want to be in that space for going forward but as our experience grows, we would surely venture into other technological products that will help our customers to be on competitive edge.
MD: Parason is a customer-driven company. We are quite flexible in terms of product range expansion. We work on whatever is being asked by the customers, for instance, polydisc filter. Customers usually ask us to develop the products which are either unavailable in the market or are expensive.
PM: As a technology provider, who is serving the paper industry for a long time, how do you think it is important to work in tandem with energy and other conservation approaches?
MD: Government around the globe is concerned about the environment, and India is nowhere behind in taking care of the same. The Clean Ganga Project initiated by the Hon’ble Prime Minister is one of the examples, if we speak about the country’s growing concern about the environment. I witnessed a significant amount of development when attended IPPTA, Kashipur. A lot of CPCB people were involved too. Everyone was focused on cleaner paper. Maybe in a phased manner, but they were able to achieve good success at least in Kashipur belt. They are replicating the same model in the entire country.
Those days are not far when we would see mills closing down due to non-compliance with the environmental norms. People are going for online monitoring. CPCB is asking for online monitoring of effluent which is going out of the mills. Sensors are being installed everywhere. They are now asked to follow strict norms. Parason is also involved in this process. We had several meetings. We presented our case of UBC recycling. We have developed a solution for UBC (Used Beverage Carton) recycling because that’s a different paper altogether. Besides, PDF is one its kind where we save a lot of fiber and a good amount of load of ETP is shared in the PDF itself. As far as the environment is concerned, yes, we are working on it.
PM: Please tell us about the new venture Parason is working on.
KD: As I told you, Parason started with defense in early days. We are coming back to the same. We are working with automation of a lot of things in the paper mill. The same solution goes hand-in-hand in metallurgy as well. We are having some special projects from the defense sector.
For Paper Industry, we are working on finishing house section. We are actively engaged in designining and manufacturing of state of art Winders and sheeters. Popereel automation is another line where we have good solution to offer to our customer. Many more things are in pipeline.
Muralidhar Ekambaram: Parason has been the forerunner and premium turnkey solution provider in stock prep equipment. Parason also felt that it has to grow further to what it had been catering to so far. The forward integration was the first step in its line of activities in which goes beyond the stock prep and approach flow to paper machines, and finally to converting segments. In the paper machine, we are providing certain retrofits for the paper machines in the press section, pre-calendar section, and post-calendar section. We are proposing to the industry certain retrofits which improve the performance of the paper machines. A lot of mills have got paper machines with pneumatically loaded presses and calendars which are now being converted into hydraulic cylinder controlled through PLCs.
One of the major sections on a paper machine is the pope reel section. In pope reel, you have jumbo reels in the old machines. You have breaks of nearly 60-70 kg per reel and about 20-30 reels are made in a day. Paper mills are spending additional costs in recycling this paper and converting it in fiber. The whole purpose of Parason is to provide a solution which will bring down that 60 kg to barely about 10-15 kgs. This is possible with certain automation techniques. We would be providing solutions for the pope reels with this automation technique. Annual saving in average mill of 150-200 TPD would be around Rs. 30-50 Lacs a year with the investment which will fetch ROI in 1.5 years. Beyond pope reel, we are also introducing the mill duty winders to drum winders. We are also introducing salvage rewinders.
PM: How do you see the automation being taken or perceived by the paper industry as large today?
ME: 10 years back, it was very difficult to tell the paper industry to look into their sheeter breaks. Today, it becomes easier for us to tell them and convert to the state-of-the-art drive solution. It is an evolving process. 20 years back, tension controls were unheard of in any of the sheeters. Today, every sheeter has got a tension control. It is a slowly evolving process which has got speeded up because of the IT and digital communication.
I will cite you one example. One 70 tonnes per day tissue plant has gone in for total centrally monitored data acquisition system for the pulp section. It is only 70 tonnes per day. Automation today is a sure name of the game because of the very fact that you need to enhance your quality. You enhance your quality by watching what you are producing through sensors to watch the critical parameters. You don’t correct them manually but through the feedback system. This is what automation is all about and this is the purpose of Parason to give a quality solution to better their productivity.
KD: It was always discussed with Mr. Shekhar about having mechatronics solution for Paper Industry which is real usable and affordable. . He is also fond of technology and always speaks about automation integrated with machinery. The team has been set up and the operation has already been started. We have few enquires which are in the realization stage. Engineering has been done, and we are going through rigorous training for past six months. I think everything is in place as of today to offer the solution to the customer. Talking about the pope reel automation, I think it is the kind where the losses are not counted as it should have been. People are always focusing on their power in refining, paper machines, and so on. Since people consider that, the amount of paper which is wasted on the pope reel and is going back to the pulper is not considered as wastage.
With around 60 kgs of per reel wastage, you are spending money on each process again. The conversion is nowhere less than an amount of Rs. 5-7/kg. Paper industry would be in a better position to do all these calculations than me. But still around one tonne of paper at Rs.5- 7/kg comes around Rs. 5,000- 7000 a day, Rs. 1.5-2.5 lakh a month, and Rs. 20-40 lakh a year. I am talking about a very conservative approach. In today’s world where the paper industry is betting on each penny, I think this is the right solution and has an ROI of 15 months in pope reel automation.
We already have two to three firms’ commitment in place. You would see the solution on-ground in around 6-8 months of time. Meanwhile, we are also discussing with many other who are surely showing interest in this. I think this is one of the upcoming things for a year on which we would bet on.
PM: What is the growth outlook for the paper industry in coming five years, and how does Parason align its strategies to meet the technological requirement generated due to capacity expansion and growth demands?
KD: Parason is serving 60 countries around the globe. We are doing regular business in those countries. We are also seeing a good amount of demand across the globe and mills are opting for better recycling solutions. In India, specifically, people are going for higher capacities and reduction of the power and pollution. To adhere to the requirement of the market, we are already working on these lines, and we would keep working with the help of the customers and paper industry.
We are identifying few of the areas like we identified pope reel automation wherein people can save money and make better bottom lines at the end of the day. Parason is helping people to achieve their bottom line in a longer run.
MD: Considering the growth in Parason, we are refining our processes, our knowledge, our database, quality, and everything. Our goal is to help our customers and paper manufacturers to produce paper in fewer amounts of water and energy. That is what we are committed to.