New Metso pilot line leads technology drive

A massive investment in a second ultramodern pilot tissue line has turned Metso's Karlstad Tissue Technology Center into the leading research facility in the world.

Hugh 0' Brian

Metso Paper, which is one of the world's biggest suppliers of tissue machines, is also a global leader in technical developments.

To further increase the range of services that it offers customers Metso has recently made another investment on the order of Euro 20 million to install a second pilot tissue machine at its Tissue Technology Center in Karlstad, Sweden. The second machine sits in a new building which lies side by side with the existing Line 1, itself a very modern TAD production line that was built in 1999.

WITH THE EXPANSION AND UPGRADING, WHICH WAS COMPLETED IN LATE 2001, the Karlstad Technology Center now has two state-of-the-art tissue machines capable of running 24 hours a day. Auxiliary investments in complete stock prep lines, water clarification units, raw material and finished product handling systems, chemical preparation lines and advanced automation mean that each of the two pilot machines can run essentially like true tissue machines both in terms of output and running times. When running flat out PM 2 can make 40 tons/day of various tissue and towel grades, while PM 1 can produce up to 30 tons/day of TAD grades.

UNIT MOVED FROM BELOIT. The new PM 2 at the Tissue Technology Center was moved from Beloit, Wisconsin, in the USA.

Beloit Corp. had built and installed the machine at its Rockton research plant just before it went bankrupt in 1999. As part of the receivership proceedings with respect to Beloit's assets, Metso bought Beloit's tissue technology including not only patents and intellectual property but also hardware such as the pilot line that had just started up. Instead of leaving the unit in the USA and running two pilot facilities on different continents, which might have made sense from a geographic point of view, Metso decided to move the line in order to concentrate all its tissue RD at the extremely modern pilot plant in Karlstad.

PM 2, IS A 1-M WIDE BELOIT design unit using a Concept IV multi-layer headbox with dilution profiling control. Design speed on the machine is a very high 3,000 m/minute and the equipment includes an 18 foot Yankee dryer as well as a high velocity, high temperature (up to 500°C) air cap. Winding takes place on a linear-loading reel.

Product is wound onto paper cores which allow the reel spool to be pulled out, eliminating the need to rewind it before it is shipped to customers for further converting. In this manner the product made simulates the true production and converting process in a more realistic manner. This allows customers to make large quantities of product for market testing, thereby lowering the risk involved when they do decide to go ahead with a giant new machine for full scale production.

LEIF FÖRSBERG, PRESIDENT OF METSO'S TISSUE MAKING LINES, explains the background to the project: "We decided to build a completely new mill in Karlstad, including not only the machine itself but all of the infrastructure such as stock preparation, pulp preparation, vacuum systems, boiler, process control, chemical farm, and all the other auxiliary support systems. Our intention was to build a line which simulates a true production environment as closely as possible with the machine operating around the clock. This was necessary from both a simulation as well as a production standpoint. Some of our customers require such large quantities of trial product to carry out their market tests that we simply need the production capacity that a 24 hour operation allows. At the same time, our existing pilot line 1, which is only slightly older than the line we moved from Beloit, was upgraded so that it can run on a 24 hour schedule as well."

HIGH DEMAND FOR MACHINE TIME. The addition of a second line was necessary not only to meet customers' demands for trials but also to allow Metso machine time to do its own process and product R&D. When Metso only had the one pilot line, its own research program was sidelined. "Demand for time on PM 1, which can run TAD product, was so high that we had to limit our own development work", says Ingmar Andersson, VP of R&D. "The new machine can be run in various configurations but will mostly be dedicated to the conventional configuration, meaning it will not run TAD. We obviously can't say exactly what we are doing but I can tell you that we are experimenting with some exciting new technologies aimed at improving product quality compared to conventional tissue."

Line 2 is faster and wider than line 1, which is 60 cm wide and has a design speed of 2,100 m/minute. Line 2 also has more data collection points, which allows improved analysis of the process in areas such as air flows. The expansion of the pilot plant also included installation of an advanced, modular chemical feed system to allow more realistic comparisons for each customer. The portable modules allow each customer to set up the chemical addition points exactly as they wish, reflecting the fact that different customers have different preferences for where they want to apply process chemicals.

Another facet of the pilot line expansion and upgrade is the addition of a new paper testing lab, in between the two pilot lines, which are installed side by side. This state-of-the-art lab allows complete testing of the tissue products, with data stored in the same database as the process data, allowing easier analysis and comparison of the lab tests with the production data. The lab is also used from time to time to help mills with process optimization work.

TAD VERSUS CONVENTIONAL ON SMALLER SCALE. These two ultra modern units sitting side by side, one dedicated to TAD while the other focussed on improved conventional grades, clearly illustrate the competitive nature of the tissue market today. Exactly what will happen in the future is hard to say but it seems quite feasible that research carried out at the Karlstad Tissue Technology Center will play a major role in the future development of the products and the markets.

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