Decor paper specialist Ahlstrom-Munksjö modernizes its quality control system with ComCore
Faster start-up processes and more convenient grade management on PM 1
The paper manufacturer Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a premium manufacturer of decor paper. Munksjö merged with the Finnish specialty paper manufacturer Ahlstrom on April 1, 2017. The paper mill now works under the name of Ahlstrom-Munksjö Paper GmbH and operates a total of two paper machines (PM 1 and PM 3) at its site in Unterkochen, Germany. These produce several tons of decor paper per hour. In total, the Unterkochen site produces around 75,000 tons of premium decor paper per year.
With the production of decor paper, paper manufacturers face special challenges: unlike mass-produced papers, specialty paper machines have to produce a wide range of papers. The properties of more than 1,500 different grades are stored in the quality control system, capable of being adjusted as efficiently as possible while the machine is running. Some varieties are produced within a few hours, others over several days. Seamless grade changeovers are therefore essential for efficient production.
Sophisticated manufacturing: quality control system plays a key role
The quality control system plays a key role, given the complex production process of decor paper. In addition to continuously checking quality, it also stores all machine setting variables for the production of the many different grades. If an order is pending for production, the system supplies the data for the correct quality control settings. The stored data can also be used as output variables to adjust the machine for completely new grades. The system therefore has to be reliable and ensure the simplest operation.
Ahlstrom-Munksjö is best known for the high quality of the decor paper produced in its factories. Managers will continue to rely on state-of-the-art technologies in order to live up to this claim in the future. Having this in mind, the company decided to update the quality control system on PM 1 in August 2016. The previous system had been in use for many years, so the hardware and software were no longer state-of-the-art. For example, any problems in the computer system were very expensive to rectify. In addition, it was no longer guaranteed that spare parts could be procured. All of this made maintenance extremely costly.
Voith ComCore was the clear choice
Due to the technical performance spectrum, the Unterkochen team decided to modernize the quality control technology with the ComCore QCS system by Voith Digital Solutions. ComCore is an automation platform developed specifically for the paper industry. It comprises digital assistance, measurement and control systems that can also be expanded with the OnEfficiency and OnCare product families. These use visualization and stabilization to help optimize paper production. The system has a modular structure and is based on standardized hardware and software, so that future changes and enhancements can be addressed with minimal effort. It also provides a platform for the evaluation of production data to improve processes.
For Ahlstrom-Munksjö, the quality measurement and control components of Voith ComCore were the decisive factors. In particular, the CD basis weight control system – i.e. the distribution of pulp mass along the entire width of the paper web – was to be optimized with the help of the Voith system. For this purpose, a measuring frame is installed at the end of the machine just before the paper reel-winding system. A measuring head moves continuously at a certain speed between the operator side and the drive side of the paper web and continuously records measured values for defined quality parameters such as basis weight and filler materials during production. If the measured values exceed a predefined tolerance range, the system automatically corrects certain process parameters and actuator settings. Parameters used for the control system are managed and provided via Voith ComCore’s grade management system. The result is an optimized longitudinal and transverse profile of the respective quality parameters that meets the highest demands.
In order to ensure as seamless a changeover as possible, a Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was carried out at Voith’s Heidenheim plant before delivery. During this test, the complete QCS system – as intended to work at Ahlstrom-Munksjö in the future – was set up, tested and optimized in detail together with the Unterkochen project team. All interfaces to the existing systems at Ahlstrom-Munksjö were taken into account and adapted. This ensured that the system would be installed quickly and immediately ready for use at the time of handover.
Successful project progress
In addition, the deployment of the ComCore system means it is easier to manage grades than in the previous system. The paper manufacturer has much faster access to the grades and the whole system is very user-friendly. Current production data can be stored and used to control new grades. This also speeds up the changeover of production to a new grade. Moreover, the new system is extremely reliable thanks to its redundant architecture. The use of standard components makes it easier to work with other systems and to maintain and expand the system. In addition, the deployment of the ComCore system means it is easier to manage grades than in the previous system. The paper manufacturer has much faster access to the grades and the whole system is very user-friendly. Current production data can be stored and used to control new grades. This also speeds up the changeover of production to a new grade. Moreover, the new system is extremely reliable thanks to its redundant architecture. The use of standard components makes it easier to work with other systems and to maintain and expand the system.