When Quality is Key - Papermart

When Quality is Key

From left: S. J. Varadharajan, Dr S. V. Subrahmanyam and Mr. Rathnasami in front of TNPL’s booth at Paperex.

Several Indian paper mills and larger fiber lines rely on Metso automation technologies. In order to bolster its wide range of automation technologies on the subcontinent, Metso has recently set up an R&D Center in Mumbai with about ten employees.

This strategic move certainly further enhances Metso’s services to Indian customers. How keen they are to ensure that their products meet the ever growing quality expectations of their customers is documented by a couple of new orders from major pulp and paper producers.

Among these recent orders, there is also a Metso Paper Lab that was delivered to the TNPL (Tamil Nadu Newsprint and Papers Limited) mill in Kagithapuram less than a year ago. TNPL installed the Metso Paper Lab next to its brand-new, state-of-the-art paper machine supplied by Voith with a production capacity of 155,000 TPA of pigment printing paper for multi-color high-end applications.

Metso Paper Lab to TNPL

During Paperex, ipw met Dr S. V. Subrahmanyam, who is General Manager R&D and QC, S. J. Varadarajan, who is Assistant General Manager of Projects, and M. Rathnasami, Assistant General Manager of Quality, told why they decided to invest in such a valuable paper-testing laboratory. In fact, the latest generation Metso Paper Lab offers suitable testing for all grades of paper and board as well as a wide selection of industry standard tests with over 400 reported properties.

PM 3 (1,200 m/min, width 6 m) was started up lately and is one of the fastest paper machines in India. It is the most recent addition to TNPL’s comprehensively upgraded brownfield mill and therefore the distance between PM 3 and the existing quality control lab next to

PM 1 and 2, which are adjacent to each other, is about 300 m.

“We just had two options – either install an identical lab next at PM 3 or have a new one serving all three paper machines,” recalls Varadarjan. The management was pursuing two main aims – to cut the manpower and to significantly reduce the time for testing and adjusting the operation, which had been one and half to two hours.

Finally a smart decision was taken. The Metso Paper Lab was set up right next to the pope reel of PM 3 and now serves PM 1 and PM 2 with the help of an automated sample conveying system as well. This system, which was invented by the TNPL team, while Metso took care of the supply, extracts samples via a controlled vacuum and sends them in capsules along a small pipeline to the Paper Lab.

This way, the sample testing time was decreased to just seven minutes – in other words, the output of all three paper machines can be checked in less than half an hour. “The data is generated in a very short time for each reel,” Rathnasami emphasizes. “The response time is reduced and corrections are taken immediately.” Furthermore, this installation does not only result in another way of working – before, papermakers got the information from the lab, but now they are able to analyze the output directly – but also in less variation in the production process caused by different operators as the workforce was reduced by eight people. Another important argument in favour of this investment was the ability to quickly retrace a specific complaint of a customer. “We are relying on much more information that helps us better understand a customer’s claim”, said Subrahmanyam. “It is now possible to see if it was our fault or if the problem is caused by his operations.”

However, Paper Lab is not only a facility to quantify tensile, physical properties or residual ink content, it also serves as a tool for performance improvement. “We are now able to measure tensile stiffness orientation across the width, and this enables us to get uniform paper from both – drive and tender sides,” explains Rathnasami. Paper Lab takes only ten square meters of space. Although it sits next to the paper machine, the vibration pads that were purchased proactively were never used. The installation and training program for the employees took only one week. “A lot of mechanical work was taken away from our operators and they easily adapted to it,” says Varadarjan. As with his colleagues, he is very happy with this investment and all of them answered unanimously when asked to describe the experience: “So far, so good!”

This positive summary could also be one reason why they are already considering the next step – an automation system for the pulp line.