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Expansion in a recession? The brave new world of Propapier Part II

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Expansion in a recession? The brave new world of Propapier Part II

September 19, 2010 - 21:25

LONDON, Sept. 20, 2010 (RISI) -In Part II of The Brave New World of Propapier, Mark Rushton finds out about the company's new mill atEisenhüttenstadt, Germany, as well as taking a closer look at the advanced new technology in the fiber line and PM 2, the brand new paper machine from Metso. Part I of the story can be readhere

Before Propapier's new PM 2 came along, a new greenfield mill was needed. More careful planning went into deciding on the final location of the mill, which even included helicopter flights over proposed sites, making sure that every operating eventuality was explored, from the local political situation, to the logistics situation. "When we first looked at investing in PM 2 we thought it might have made sense to have it sit alongside PM 1 at our site in Burg, but when we looked closely we decided not to", says Götz Herold, mill manager at the new Eisenhüttenstadt site. "There are actually not many places you can build a greenfield site in Germany, and our prime objectives were to have a safe recovered paper base as well as a safe legal environment."

After the initial idea - which was first discussed five years earlier - in January 2008 the Eisenhüttenstadt industrial complex was decided upon as the location for the new mill, mainly because of its central location for the markets, and also because it was already an industrialized area, and home to a large steel mill. It is also located on the River Oder. Herold continues: "There are a lot of synergies between a paper mill and a steel mill, and the two industries have a more or less a similar operation; energy intensive, logistics demands, the river, the railway, and good roads. This site also means that we are in the middle of the market."

The mill now employs 130 people.

The raw material, 70% OCC and 30% mixed waste comes in from a radius of 300 km and the supply is regular and consistent as there are long term contracts in place. The annual requirement for the mill in terms of raw material is some 750,000 tonnes. "The wastepaper market in Germany is very well organized and we mostly work with the big waste controllers for larger volumes. They do the separating to make sure that we have the right qualities for our specific grades," says Heindl.

‘Sticky Reduction and minimum fiber loss'

As well as PM 2, Metso's delivery for Propapier also includes the stock preparation for OCC and mixed waste recycled fiber. Raw material handling and feeding is carried out with three separate bale handling lines including automatic bale dewiring units and bale breakers. There is a single collecting and feeding line for the raw material which ensures a stable, even flow, and an advanced reject handling system that maximizes the company's commitment to keeping land fill costs down, which is to either reuse, or burn.

The new fiber line implements the use of the world's largest OCC drum, which also has the highest production capacity, and which presented one of Metso's major transportation challenges in the Propapier project. Peter Resvanis, production manager at both of Propapier papermaking facilities is already delighted with the performance of the drum so far, he says: "The drum is 63 meters in length and 5 metres in diameter and uses Metso's OptiSlush technology. The drum pulper is followed by a high consistency cleaner, low consistency cleaning and then two-stage fractionation and four-stage long fiber screening We are experiencing excellent results with sticky reduction (the target is 90%) and fiber loss is less that 2%."

Propapier's OptiSlush Drum Pulper, the largest in the world

PM 2 - a question of teamwork

PM 2 was a concept that became a reality because of paper producer and supplier working very closely together. Resvanis explains: "There was a long history of Metso and Propapier working together on PM 1. We gained a lot of experience together and there were many discussions and trading of ideas. From the initial concept, it took around two years to design a machine that was for us, fit for purpose. Basically we had the ideas, and Metso designed what we needed."

One of the fundamental features demanded by Propapier is that all round maximum efficiency is achieved in every quarter, but particularly in maximising the use of raw material. PM 2 has been specially designed with this in mind. One of the special features of the machine is Metso's OptiFormer gap former, combined with a two-layer OptiFlo II headbox. Michael Müller, paper technology manager at Metso Paper GmbH explains: "These create a uniform sheet with high strength and good layer coverage, enabling the effective use of raw material which is one of the targets for PM 2. The web runs through a closed draw OptiPress press section concept, with SymBelt shoe presses in both nips. Another speciality of the machine is the last after dryer group OptiDry horizontal impingement drying unit which controls curl by blowing hot air onto the web surface."

PM 2 also carries another special feature; just one high capacity WinDrum Pro winder. The 5 m diameter parent rolls, each weighing around 160 tons, are managed by the high capacity winder from the fully-automated OptiReel Plus.

Another raw material that Propapier is focused on mazimizing the use of is water, and PM 2 is equipped with the very latest technology to ensure maximum recycling and reuse. Müller explains: "To reduce the amount of fresh water consumption and waste, PM 2's clear filtrate is treated with the OptiCycle W ultrafiltration process. Four OptiFilter CR (cross rotational) ultrafilters are connected together and the concentrate is pumped to the effluent treatment plant. By replacing warm, fresh water with ultrafiltered water, it is possible to reduce the average fresh water consumption by about 1-1.5 m3/tonne of produced OCC-based board."

Propapier's PM 2

Design speed: 1,900 m/min
Wire width: 10,850 mm
Width at reel: 10,100 mm
Production capacity: 650,000 tonnes/yr
Grades: Testliner, fluting, basis weight, range 70-130 g/m²
Furnish: 100 % recycled fiber

Efficient start up into the future

PM 2, with its capacity of 650,000 tonnes/yr and a design speed of 1,900 m/min, started up on March 15 of this year, two days earlier than planned. So, how did the startup go? "It was a very good startup. After day one we had stock on the wire and the next day going through the press section. On day four we applied the sizer and we had sellable paper," says Resvanis.

"The target is to reach 650,000 tonnes/yr as soon as possible, as well as to realize cost savings in energy, and raw materials. After one year we expect a 91.5% yield from raw material, and then 92.5% as we achieve on PM 1 in Burg," concludes Resvanis.

Around three months after startup, the machine broke the 1600 m/min mark, running 80 to 90 g/m² of 19 hours without any web breaks. CEO Heidl says: "We are very pleased with results so far, but the machine has even more potential to be improved and we will be looking for even more optimization. But you cannot go too far, there are limits, and you come to a point where you have to make a choice between commercial issues and realistic production targets. We have gone for a machine with a design speed of 1,900 m/min, if you compare this with other machines on the market, 1,800 m/min, this appears to be acceptable.

And what about the future, any more plans for further expansion and perhaps a PM 3? "We have a much better picture on what the market is like today, than we did a year ago," says Heindl, "And it is no secret that we would like to grow. But for now, with this new mill and PM 2, we are well invested and we will see how we will proceed in the future."

One thing we can be sure of, the next expansion phase by the Progroup will also progress "exactly according to plan".

Part I of this story can be readhere