Learning time for tissuemakers in Karlstad

The Metso Tissue Making conference in Karlstad was one of the best ever held as far as content, offering a good mix of market trends and technological developments. The well-rounded program, combined with enjoyable social events, made the two-day meeting a very good one.

Hugh O’Brian

“I have learned in the papermaking business that no matter how much you have seen in the world, there is always something more to learn from someone else’s operation. Even if you have the biggest most modern mill in the world, there is someone, somewhere who is doing something better than you are, even at the smallest, oldest mill.”

With this intuitive statement, which he admitted had not come from him but from a Swedish mill manager several years before, Don Cayouette, Executive Vice President of Operations at Kruger Inc. in Canada opened the Tissue Making 2004 Conference in Karlstad, Sweden.

Cayouette told the story of how he had been visiting a large, modern newsprint mill in Sweden several years back and at the end of the visit he thanked his host, the mill manager. He hesitantly added that, while his mill in Canada was not a very modern or advanced one, the Swede was nonetheless welcome to visit if he were to be in the area. The mill manager replied with the comment that no matter how big or small you are, that there is always someone who is doing some part of the process better than you. Thus there is always more to learn to improve.

Sponsored by Metso Paper and Fabio Perini/KPL Packaging/Körber Paper Link, Tissue Making 2004 attracted 250 attendees from 40 countries around the world. Following the welcoming remarks by Per Eiritz, President of Metso Paper Karlstad, and Martin Weickenmeier, President of Körber Paperlink, the meeting got down to business with numerous excellent speeches covering both market trends as well as new technological developments.

The first speech of the meeting dove into a very timely topic: China. Anu Ahola from Jaakko Poÿry Consulting gave the audience a look at the world’s most populous nation and the enormous potential that it offers. With per capita tissue consumption amounting to only 2-3 kg per year, compared to 22-25 kg in the US and Nordic countries, China obviously has room for growth.

Ahola estimated that tissue demand in China is growing by about 200,000 tons per year. Presently the supply and demand equation is roughly in balance at around three million tons but, she said, “the balance is very regional, meaning that a big new investment in the wrong place could be a problem for the entire Chinese market.”

Another interesting speech was given by Chiara Pagano from the Italian supermarket cooperative, COOP. The company is Italy’s leading retailer with a 17.7% market share based on 2003 figures. Total sales in 2003 were $11 billion, a rise of nearly 12% from the previous year. Looking closely at the role of private label products in COOP’s assortment, Pagano said that PL tissue accounts for 46% of the company’s total tissue sales on a volume basis and 34% on a turnover basis. PL plays a very important part in the strategy to have a good price/quality ratio whereby COOP can offer products that are “as good as the main industrial brands, but 25-30% cheaper,” said Pagano. COOP has three main PL tissue product lines which are the Premium Line featuring TAD technology and 100% virgin pulp; the Main Line with virgin pulp; and the Eco Line with 100% recycled pulp.

Metso Paper used the conference to introduce several new machine concepts which are aimed primarily at the entry level. Among the most discussed were the new Metso STT concept and the new DCT 100 entry level tissue machine. Jan Erikson told the audience about the new STT (meaning Structured Tissue Technology) concept that allows production of a structured sheet similar to TAD. The STT is a patented swing concept that can make a full range of both conventional and structured products.

“Ideally,” said Erikson, “it is suited to producers seeking to exploit emerging markets for structured products.” Offering a simpler, lower-speed alternative, the STT omits the pre-drying stage meaning that the web is embedded in the STT fabric and passes directly to the Yankee dryer. This raises the drying load on the Yankee and therefore means lower speeds. Erikson also suggested methods by which the STT concept could be incorporated on a suction breast roll machine through a relatively simple rebuild.

Ingemar Myrén of Metso introduced the new Advantage DCT 100 tissue machine that is a stripped down dry crepe machine that comes at a lower cost. Set to run at 1,600 mpm and not more, the machine is designed for the entry level sector, with emerging markets like China, India and South America in mind. The capital cost of the Advantage DCT 100 is about 20% less than a larger machine running at 2,000 mpm meaning that the capital cost per ton is the same for both machines. “This is important,” said Myrén, “as the capital cost is a significant component of the total production costs.”

A very entertaining and interesting presentation was given by Jaime Vicente de Sousa from Santher of Brazil. He started off with a great introduction about how, as a marketing man who previously worked with the soft drinks business, he found it hard to sell toilet paper. “There is no involvement with the product,” said de Sousa. “I mean you couldn’t have an ad with Julia Roberts saying ‘I just used this toilet paper and I love it.’ So we looked at a different angle.” That angle, de Sousa explained, involved a new premium tissue product line called Personal KIDS which is, not surprisingly, specifically for children. Following a detailed market study and launch plan, Personal KIDS entered the market and has become a favorite with both kids and parents. So much so that KIDS brand makes up 10% of Santher’s Premium tissue volume, much higher than the targeted 5% that was originally envisioned. Overall market share for Santher in the Brazilian market rose from 17.7% to 18.7%, while their share of the premium tissue sector rose from 14.2% to 16.7%.

The new and exciting concept of color embossing for tissue was presented by Manrico Giusfredi of Fabio Perini. As part of a paper covering the evolution of embossed tissue products, he gave some insight into how converters can use this relatively simple idea of adding some color during the embossing process to add to the decorative value of the product. By lightly coloring the micro-embossed background pattern, the process offers a way to make white tissue into a colored product in a much simpler manner than actually doing it on the paper machine, which involves a complicated grade change and system washout.

By using colored ink for laminating, the décor motif can be highlighted adding further value to the product.

Andrey Dolgirev of SCA Svetogorsk in Russia gave an interesting speech about the Russian paper market. Backed by figures showing increasing GDP and incomes, as well as improving trade balances, Dolgirev said that following the tough times of the late 1990s, the Russian market is developing quickly now. As demand has grown over the past three years, papermakers have been increasing their utilization rates so that upgrades of the equipment have been needed to keep up with demand. With the Russian economy continuing to grow, he predicted that further improvements and investments will be made in the coming years.

Several other excellent papers were included in the program, among them one by WILLIAM Nelson of KPL Packaging, speaking about the results of the ContRoll harmonization system which has been shown to improve to total efficiency of a converting line from rewinder to bundler. Other papers included a presentation on “Advances in Press Technology” by Magnus Hultcrantz of Metso, a speech on the “Importance of Technology for Staying Ahead of the Competition” by Guy Goldstein, retired VP of Technology at Georgia-Pacific, a presentation on “An Integrated Line Concept” by Guy Allen of Fabio Perini S.p.A. and “A New TAD Concept for Medium Output” by Dennis Jewitt of Metso Paper. In all, a total of 13 high-level presentations were held on the first day of the conference.

The day was wrapped up with a very enjoyable dinner which was held at the Nöjesfabriken. The name, which translates as ‘The Amusement Factory’, is the building that was the original workshop of the KMW (the predecessor to Valmet and Metso in Karlstad) paper machine works from the early 1900s. It is now an entertainment complex featuring bar, restaurant, bowling and other activities.

The program on Friday morning was a major departure from previous tradition with a line-up of focused workshops being held instead of speeches.

The participants could choose from a wide variety of one-hour workshops that covered numerous different topics in all areas of tissue making, converting and packaging. The impression from the delegates was that this format was well liked as it gave an opportunity to delve more deeply into the subjects that were of particular interest.

The program finished up with a visit to Stora Enso’s enormous Skoghall board mill. Although Skogahll mainly makes liquid packaging board that has no relation to the tissue industry, the visit was well appreciated by the attendees. Skoghall’s PM 8 is the world’s largest liquid packaging board machine, making nearly 400,000 tons per year.

When the two day meeting was over, the general feeling from the delegates was very positive.

Following the message from the conference chairman about always seeking to learn more, it seemed that most of the delegates agreed that they had indeed learned something new, which was of course the point of attending. Life is for learning. •

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