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Papermaking 4.0 by Voith

Networked solutions optimize paper manufacturing

2015-09-11 - Industry 4.0, Big Data or the Internet of Things – the networking of processes and communication between machines – are what will shape the future. Digital advances are making it possible, especially a powerful and widely accessible Internet. Voith has not only ventured a look into the future but is already offering specific solutions that are making “Papermaking 4.0” a reality today.

With Papermaking 4.0, Voith is making an intelligent contribution to increasing the efficiency, productivity and quality of the entire paper production process supply chain, even in existing systems and equipment. “The term has been chosen deliberately to address Industry 4.0,” says Dr. Christian Naydowski, Vice President Technology for Papermaking 4.0 at Voith Paper. And while some industries are still discussing which IT measures are going to be the key to the smart factory, Voith is already offering specific product solutions, and not just for new plants and equipment.

“To put it in a nutshell, there are three aspects involved: visualization, stabilization and optimization,” Naydowski says. “We are creating processes that work transparently in our customers’ paper machines and can be stabilized by means of actuators and controls. A logical consequence is that we are then able to also optimize processes that are stable. Connecting lots of sub-processes with one another to utilize quality data in stock preparation through to the finished product, for example, results in a measurable monetary benefit. In this context, dispensing with the excessive use of valuable resources plays a crucial role. Energy, chemicals, fibers and time are all sources for this added value.”

Exploiting the opportunity offered by industrial Change The fact is that in recent years, the Internet has dominated and changed our daily lives and has consequently influenced economic processes to a much greater degree than many people would ever have imagined. Every day more than 200 billion emails are sent, while the Google search engine deals with around 3.5 billion searches, and 8.4 billion videos are watched on YouTube. These figures are from March of this year, and it can be assumed that this trend will continue.
Dr. Naydowski is confident: “Only those who face up to these developments and see this global change as an opportunity will be able to leverage existing potential for excellence and exploit new possibilities.” And as with all technological developments, growing acceptance goes hand in hand with increasing expectations. “At Voith, we know that our customers want forward-thinking solutions that offer clear added value and a tangible economic benefit. We regard Industry 4.0 as a sphere of activity for new business models, provided that the five crucial technological areas to achieve this have been mastered.” These are embedded systems (cyber physical systems, CPS), smart factory, robust data networks, data transfer in real time and absolute IT security.

The future is all about being more productive and less expensive In order to better understand the environment of the new digital opportunities, it is worth reviewing what today’s scenario involves. In the context of Voith’s paper machine technology, the numbers tell the story. A modern board machine already incorporates 20,000 I/O (input/output processes), transmits around 160,000 data signals per second, and uses 7,000 actuators. To make this possible, 900 metric tons of copper cable had to be installed in this machine. Even these figures, Dr. Naydowski believes, will “definitely multiply” with the next machine as a result of technological advances. But that is exactly what we do not want any more. Today, for example, copper cable can be reduced thanks to modern, fast LAN networks, although the number of signals will increase substantially. The Internet is now making this possible.”

Voith has set for itself the goal of helping to shape the future with technological developments, so that in the paper industry, costs are reduced while productivity and flexibility are increased. Voith has defined concrete figures for this ambitious goal, says Dr. Naydowski. “We believe that 10 percent more productivity and a 10 percent reduction in costs are absolutely realistic.”

The name of the digital solution? OnEfficiency and OnCare Voith developed OnEfficiency to maximize the paper machine’s potential. With this system consisting of several sub-systems, processes are stabilized and more scope is created for optimizations. For example, with OnEfficiency it is possible to improve the yield from the DIP flotation process. We can also achieve strength targets for board with minimal use of starch and adjust the porosity of newsprint or base papers on the running paper web toward one target variable. OnEfficiency Forming gets right to the process at the heart of papermaking: sheet formation. This is measured and analyzed with a package of sensors so that dewatering, retention and flocculation can be stabilized and at the same time coordinated. As a result of the stable process, raw materials and chemicals can be saved and energy usage reduced. It is at this point that we come full circle to the three aspects mentioned by Dr. Naydowski at the beginning: visualization, stabilization and optimization. Sensors and actuators are the technical basis for visualization and for creating transparency in the individual processes in a paper machine. Regardless of which solution is used, (i.e. OnEfficiency Forming or OnEfficiency DIP, which proactively adjusts the downstream flotation and bleaching process in the deinking process and therefore reduces the use of recovered paper, energy and chemicals), the aim is process stabilization, the outcomes of which offer the paper manufacturer a cost benefit.

Stable processes mean fewer costs and consistent quality But that is not all. Every paper manufacturer wants quality that is as consistent as possible, but the reality is often very different. “Although the paper quality might still be right when the machine starts up, the values can start changing after just a few weeks or months,” says Dr. Naydowski. Voith measurements on various paper machines taken over a longer period have shown that over time, the quality diverges from the defined corridors for dewatering, retention, formation or porosity. The basic conclusion is that the huge volume of data available in paper manufacturing cannot be effectively managed with manual methods over longer intervals. But that is exactly what Voith’s “Papermaking 4.0” with its various systems, is able to do.

OnCare is another of these systems. It identifies the smallest of malfunctions and can diagnose initial damage to roll bearings before it becomes a problem. This prevents unscheduled and costly machine downtimes. OnCare monitors important areas of the paper machine online, such as pressure pulsation in the approach flow system or the vibrations of presses, coating units and calenders. In case of irregularities in the paper, the cause is automatically identified via synchronous averaging. A high-frequency online analysis investigates quality data such as basis weight, thickness and moisture. With this analysis tool, Voith has created a mobile and fixed option for data collection. In the mobile version, operation and quick diagnosis can be performed using any mobile device directly at the machine.

Papermaking 4.0 – already proven in practice Regardless of whether it is based on visualization or stabilization solutions, smart preventive maintenance that virtually announces and runs itself before the papermaker at the machine is even aware of it. Thanks to Voith, this world of Papermaking 4.0 already exists and has been proven in practice. Numerous Voith customers are already relying on OnEfficiency and OnCare systems. “We can document through many examples that Papermaking 4.0, the use of intelligent systems that network with other systems, pays off within just a few months and delivers the targeted cost and optimization benefits,” says Dr. Naydowski. He cites a Voith customer: “We really appreciate OnEfficiency a lot, so much so that we don’t want to tell anyone about it!” And another innovative aspect is that OnEfficiency has a modular structure. Every module as such already provides a measurable benefit. When installed consecutively, the modules network with one another. The end result is a Papermaking 4.0 concept.
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