ADVANCED MACHINE THREADING SYSTEMS FOR IMPROVING PERFORMANCE AND MAINTAINING EFFICIENCY GAINS

Author

Glenn Draper and Elisabeth Rooney

Company and address

Voith Paper Corp., Tail Threading Group, 266 Schoolhouse Street, Coquitlam, B C,  V3L 6V7, Canada

email

Glenn.Draper@Voith.com and Beth.Rooney@voith.com

Keywords

threading, efficiency, profitability

ABSTRACT

As the paper market becomes more competitive, machine speeds increase and processes become more complex, it is critical for mills to achieve maximum production at the lowest cost.  Even if mills are taking inventory downtime, they must produce their product at the lowest cost possible in order to remain competitive.

Threading is one process that can significantly affect production costs, but is easily optimized to give the mill a competitive edge.   Recent advances in threading technology provide improved performance while minimizing training, maintenance and installed cost.

ACHIEVING MAXIMUM PROFITABILITY

For paper producers this means producing the maximum amount of the highest quality paper, in the shortest time, with the least effort (resources), at the lowest cost.

High quality + high productivity at lowest cost = maximum profit

Obviously there are many factors that affect this profitability equation.  One of the biggest challenges facing the paper company is to determine which factors have the greatest negative or positive impact on their operations, how best to manage controllable factors, and when and where to invest for optimum profit results. This is especially critical today when the industry has experienced massive consolidation, and newly formed companies must decide how best to utilize their combined resources to best advantage.

THE EFFICIENCY OPPORTUNITY

Optimizing machine efficiency and increasing machine availability are two key areas the mill can manage and control and which have a significant effect on profitability. Worldwide the average machine efficiency is 82%, while 97% efficiency is the global benchmark achieved by the top 1% of paper machines. Correctly exploiting this efficiency opportunity will allow paper mills to achieve superior profitability with their existing assets. 

One of the major causes of lost machine efficiency and insufficient capacity utilization is threading downtime inefficiencies in the threading process itself, poor or ineffective equipment, inadequate maintenance procedures, variability in threading performance due to operator controlled operations, inefficient manpower allocation / utilization / productivity due to threading process problems. However, efficiency gains as high as 5% are achievable through implementation of technical innovations and optimized threading processes alone.

The (patent pending) TEAMS' 4 stage process has been successfully utilized hundreds of times worldwide to help mills identify threading process problems, and develop a prioritized implementation plan to achieve safe, efficient, full machine threading.  However, the biggest challenge the mill then faces is to maintain these efficiency gains over the long term in order to ensure ongoing profitability of the mill's investment.

Voith has successfully introduced many significant advancements in threading technology over the last 4 years to improve overall machine threading.  Appropriate combinations of these new technologies used as required in conjunction with a mill's current threading system components, allow the mill to achieve superior threading system performance and safe operation at the lowest cost. However, it is not enough to simply improve overall threading performance. In order for the mill to gain the greatest system lifecycle ROI, the system must continue to perform at maximum sustainable performance levels over the long term.

With this goal in mind, Voith Paper developed the MSP program Maximum Sustainable Performance to ensure that customers get the best long term efficiency from their threading systems. See Figure 1 below.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The MSP Solution consists the four patented or patent pending key components listed below: (see drawing below)

  • Voith Webvision Camera subsystem
  • Fibron 3000 subsystem
  • WinSPC Monitoring Subsystem
  • VTrac web based Performance and Spares Management subsystem

The MSP solution totally automates the threading process, including draw control.  This eliminates operator variability, enhances system performance and improves safety through a visual and data management system, which utilizes digital camera technology coupled with process software to manage:

Threading system operation
- system "sees" there is no sheet
- system activates the tail cutter to cut the correct tail at the correct location
- system "sees" the tail in the appropriate location, ready for transfer
- system "sees" that no operators or other equipment are in the way, and pivots threading equipment into thread position, and turns it on
- system checks that speed differentials of rolls, conveyors, receiving nip are correct for optimum tail transfer
- system checks that there is sufficient vacuum, air, rope tension etc. required for a good transfer
- system activates the equipment and performs the transfer
- system "sees" the tail draw up to a certain location, and synchronizes roll speeds (draw control)
- system turns off equipment and retracts it into store position

Trouble shooting and System self-diagnostics
- system sends a signal to the operator if there is insufficient vacuum, a problem with any parameter that would affect threading (such as roll speeds, rope tension etc.), a plugged air jet etc. The system is capable of self-diagnosing both equipment components, and machine parameters that affect threading, and sending the appropriate "problem" message to the operator so that any problems can be quickly identified and dealt with, and threading time is minimized.

Remote trouble shooting
- the system maintains a visual and data log of all system component performance
- the mill can receive accurate remote trouble shooting assistance from expert Voith technicians 24/7 because the technicians can connect to the system through the internet and "see" exactly what is happening with the system, and make the appropriate corrections.

Data logging
- the system logs all relevant information for the system (number of times operated; for how long; time between activations; amount of vacuum, air etc; speed differentials; amount of energy consumed etc.

Performance logging
- the system monitors its own efficiency and sends appropriate warning messages to the operators when maintenance or service are required; or when spares should be ordered to be on site in time for the next shut etc.
- the system maintains an ongoing ROI so that the mill can get an ROI statement on demand

MSP provides these additional capabilities for operational benchmarking to allow the system to establish the requirements for sustainable performance such as required maintenance for optimum system performance, equipment factory service requirements, spares management and system upgrading. 

CONCLUSION

The MSP solution allows the mill to improve overall threading performance, totally automate the threading process and maintain these gains in the long term. Because it continually tracks performance, the mill can receive Return on Investment reports on demand to ensure that its investment is achieving maximum returns.  In short, MSP is a tool that allows the mill to easily and positively manage the threading process for long-term optimum results.

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