Close collaboration at the Voith Paper Innovation Center
Close collaboration at the Voith Paper Innovation Center sparks customer-oriented, cutting-edge product development. Real-world and virtual testing is at the core.
“There’s a constant bouncing back and forth of ideas,” explains Uwe Fröhlich, Senior Manager Pilot Operations at the Voith Paper Innovation Center in Heidenheim. “We build on each other’s strengths, ideas and expertise, which gives us the spark to innovate further, for our customers and for us.
Innovative solutions are not created in isolation, but within a collaborative team, working in real-life conditions, in the laboratory and also in the virtual world – with a focus on the customer and the market. In Heidenheim, this kind of push-pull, pick-and-mix support is driving innovation in the paper industry.
Acutely aware of enormous complexity in papermaking, Voith Paper has created a smart ecosystem in its Innovation Center. This is where a competent team with experience across the whole papermaking process provides the know-how customers seek to grow their businesses. It is a high-tech sandbox for innovation.
Providing real-world tests prior to rebuilds, investments or adaptations.
Using analytical technology for fiber, paper and coating color.
Designing solutions with cutting-edge tools and techniques.
The Voith Paper Technology Centers in Heidenheim provide customers with a range of tailored pilot opportunities to test and optimize processes.
- Stock preparation
- Paper machines
Three additional Voith Technology Centers offer flexible facilities for specific paper grades and processes.
- Specialty Paper, Düren, Germany
- Tissue, São Paulo, Brazil
- Stock Preparation & Coating, Motomiya, Japan
Carefully tailored trials
At the core are the individual Technology Centers. They provide the processes and systems customized for specific applications. The brand-new Fiber Technology Center, for instance, offers customers the opportunity to carry out trials of all main elements of stock preparation. At all the Centers, customers can bring materials for tailored trials in all aspects of papermaking in real-world conditions, in order to optimize their own production lines.
“Our customers understandably demand convincing results before they will adopt any new technologies,” says Fröhlich. “Our established innovation processes guarantee results.”
Dr. Tina Mutschler agrees. “It is a robust process that has been tried, tested and proven to meet customers’ needs and the ongoing changes in the paper making industry,” she explains. As the Senior Manager Central Laboratory, Mutschler and her team provide precise test data as a further basis for assessing the pilot plant results, using, for instance, highaccuracy tomographic imaging of paper machine clothing. “Innovation depends very much on trial and error, supported by close monitoring and sharing of results. Collaboration with customers is really essential,” she says.
“It is a multiscale approach on so many levels,” adds Dr. Michael Weiss, Senior Manager Simulation. “My team’s focus is on breakthrough and disruptive technologies, with an emphasis on speeding up product development. We make use of a broad portfolio of methods and techniques, ranging from basic simulation of physics and processes to data analytics and modeling.” At the Simulation Center, new clothing designs are carried out using virtual prototyping and analysis tools. Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and process simulation are vital techniques in optimization of design and performance of products and machinery equipment.
New product development
The advantages of this flexible threeleveled approach using pilot machines, laboratory and simulation is evident in Voith’s own R&D. Key developments in curtain coating were the result of in-depth trials on the pilot coaters in Heidenheim and Motomiya, Japan, supported by the laboratory and advanced CFD and process simulations to evaluate alternative environmental conditions. “Together, we developed our DF Coat to ensure the highest reliability and runability, reduced power consumption, as well as increased flexibility,” says Fröhlich. Similar collaborative work led to the development of the EclipseR screening rotor and its exceptional novel foil design based on winglet technology, which ensures an energy reduction of up to 35% compared with old generation rotors – a clear advantage for customers.
Key pillars for innovation
Crucial to any innovation is the big picture. At Voith, this is obtained with Foresight Management. Often the first step in the innovation process, it combines five key pillars – Trend Analysis, Technology Foresight, Customer Foresight, Consumer Foresight and Radical Technologies. As it involves a development cycle of constant analysis and refinement, Foresight Management targets ways to fill R&D project pipelines and anticipate customer needs.
Value creation for customers
This customer-oriented approach provides a hybrid technology push and market pull to deliver a sustainable offering. At the Voith Paper Innovation Center, the objective is giving customers value creation and the technological and competitive edge in a cost-effective way, as Fröhlich emphasizes: “We support our customers with a wide range of expertise to create customized solutions and to help prepare the industry for the next industrial age.”