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Finland braced for new industry challenges

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Finland braced for new industry challenges

July 28, 2014 - 08:26

BRUSSELS, July 1, 2014 (PPI Magazine) - The 3rd editors' tour of Finland took place in late March. Sponsored by Pulp and Paper Technology Finland and led by Teppo Koski, TEKO Consulting, the Teppo Tour as it has come to be called visited 15 businesses in five days.

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The Valmet Pulp & Energy Division R&D center near Tampere.

First stop were the Pöyry offices near Helsinki. After an overall view of the company, the presentation focused on three sectors: graphic paper; market pulp; biorefining.

It's no secret that the graphic paper market has been in decline. Demand now is about 140 million tonnes/yr split almost evenly between developing nations and the mature market. Timo Suhonen, principal, showed how the number of paper machines has fallen from 3,137 in 1995 to 2,226 today. With consolidations and companies exiting the sector, the number of graphic grade papermakers has gone from about 900 in 1995 to 715 now.

Through 2025, Suhonen said demand will continue to decline and emerging markets will capture the majority of the market. The number of companies serving the market will continue to drop.

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Kirsi Seppäläinen, head of communications and sustainability, Stora Enso, goes over some of the details of the Montes del Plata mill in Uruguay.

Suhonen showed how companies adopt various strategies to adapt to the decline; These include: leadership; niche; harvest; and, quick divestment.

For market pulp, Teija Konttori, senior consultant, looked at how much pulp will be needed, where it will come from and other key issues.

Today, market pulp demand is about 60 million tonnes/yr and this will grow to more than 80 million tonnes in 2025. Konttori said 90% of the demand growth will emanate from China. She added that South America is still best place to invest. By 2015, there should be an extra 5.1 million tonnes of pulp on the market, 3.8 million tonnes of which will come from South America. This includes the recently announced OKI project in southeast Asia but also includes a number of expected smaller mill closures.

Still, with recently built new mills and announced expansions and other new mill projects, capacity should outstrip demand by 2025 so some closures are needed.

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Kytola Instruments had its start in the early part of the 20th Century making timepieces. The date on the clock says 1906.

In the burgeoning biorefining sector, Esa Sipilä, senior consultant, said that in the future companies should look for "flexible and agile" production of biomass-based products in a volatile global market focusing on profitability. This is a step advanced from today's philosophy of looking for new product to produce bio-based products while trying to reduce fossil fuels. For the pulp and paper industry, this means more diversified processes that enable changes in a company's product portfolio according to the prevailing market conditions. He stressed that this did not mean daily or even weekly changes but within the lifetime of a mill.

Sipilä provided some examples such as the LignoBoost technology that Domtar has installed at its Plymouth, NC, mill. Sun Paper in Yanzhou does hemicelluloses removal through continuous pre-hydrolysis. By adding a pre-digester, a mill can produce either paper grade pulp or dissolving pulp based on market conditions.

Sipilä also discussed UPM's Lappeenranta Bioverno tall oil refinery under construction at it Kaukas, Finland, mill. UPM is becoming a key player in advanced biofuel production. Metsä Fibre, Joutseno, Finland,has built a wood gasification unit to replace fossil fuels in its lime kiln.

The main drivers for any "bio" project will be climate change and the price of fossil fuels. Flexibility will be a key. The investment environment for new bio-based energy or other products remains uncertain due to changing market regulations. Future biorefineries could mitigate part of that risk through flexibility.

A "mega" trend

Kemira hosted the group next. The company's focus is on water by improving the water, energy and raw material efficiency of its customers. The pulp and paper industry accounts for about 45% of its revenues. Its transition into a water-focused entity began in 2012.

Kenneth Nystén, is head of paper, SVP, EMEA, for Kemira. He explained that a modern graphic paper machine has an influent of about 6.5 million m3/day, of which 1 m3 is evaporated, leaving 5.5 m3/day to be treated.

Its organic growth is accelerating in the industry. The demand for sizing and strength chemically is growing rapidly worldwide. Kemira sees itself as the leading player in the packaging and tissue sectors. In 2008, these accounted for 22% of its business; now, they account for 30%.

One of the company's objectives is to develop chemistry to allow for an increased in filler loads, thus allowing producers to use less fiber and reduce costs. Another aim is to improve customers' efficiency by new retention and drainage programs.

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A Kumera gearbox

As Antti Matula, director, marketing and product management paper, EMEA, pointed out, Kemira wants to help customers control water "phenomena" in the water base while always looking to help them close water loops.

Even with chemicals, technology is all important. Exact control allows a mill to optimize dosing to help improve quality while minimizing cost. Kemira offers real time remote control and monitoring (FennoData Portal). There are currently about 100 customers taking advantage of these remote services.

Kemira has recently introduced FlytoTM technology. It is an analysis tool to map agglomeration tendencies on a paper machine. It is based on flow cytometry using light scattering and fluorescence. It can identify particles, their size and count.

Flyto LiteTM is an online monitoring system for particle size management. It is designed for low-consistency suspensions such as wet end monitoring. It can continuously monitor particle counts and hydrophobicity in the wet end.

Customers like the change

The intrepid group moved on to one of the industry's giants, Valmet, where president and CEO Pasi Laine gave an overview of the company since the demerger with Metso. This has been covered in PPI in the February 2014 issue, p.29.

Sales topped Euro 2.6 billion in2013 with services having the largest share at 39% followed by pulp and energy, and paper at 35% and 26% respectively.

Laine said the company is strong where it needs to be noting that there were still investments happening in Europe such as the recently announced expansion at Södra's Varo, Sweden mill.

He said the big boom in China paper investments is over and even if it returns to just 50% of previous levels, it would be a "pleasant surprise."

Some its recent orders include the recently started Greenpac mill in the US that includes a multi-year service agreement, the OKI mill, CMPC Guaiba ins South America and Suzano Maranhao in Brazil. After the first startup of its OptiConcept M board machine, four new orders were received. Now that the first reference is operational, there has been increased interest in the LignoBoost technology.

Laine said the company is growing in gasification technology and biotechnology. Market reaction to the new company has been good, Laine added.

Aft continues to grow

A regular stop on these tours has been to Aikawa Fiber Technologies (AFT). A well known supplier of screening, stock prep, approach flow and refining technology, AFT calls its approach to the industry "science applied".

Its POM approach flow systems can help mills improve paper machine efficiency by as much as 8%. In the screening end, a thick stock screening project at the UPM Jamsankoski mill, PM 3, helped overcome capacity limitations and fiber loss. As well as a screen capacity increase, the rotor power draw fell by 20%, the paper machine was receiving cleaner pulp and mass rejects were reduced from one bone dry tone to 0.12 bone dry tones. Payback time for the project was six months. AFT installed MacroFlow screen cylinders in the first and second stages and installed a MaxSaver screen in the tertiary stage. AFT will do similar work on the mill's PM 5 and 6.

AFT is the leading company for screening equipment in volume and sales. It used to produce only for the OEMs but now products screens under its own brand. Energy can be the largest component of screening cost, up to 62%. AFT claims customers can realize 20-60% energy savings with its technology.

A new rotor design is being introduced in 2014. The company did work at the University of British Columbia with 3D computational fluid dynamics analysis.

Its approach flow systems are the well known POM brand. One of its newest installations is at a Stora Enso mill in Poland. AFT has done a lot of rebuild work on board machines with the POM systems.

Energy is always an issue along with fiber quality: how to achieve the quality needed for the purpose.

Rethinking the business

Stora Enso launched its new company philosophy - Rethink - in 2011. It wants to transform from a traditional pulp and paper company to one of value creation in growth markets with renewable materials: packaging and board; plantation-based pulp and biomaterials; and building and living products.

One of the sectors that Stora Enso has great plans for is urban wood construction where it sees huge potential. The company is among the top five sawmillers in the world but is not very involved with construction. According to Matti Mikkola, wood is the answer to many non-renewable materials.

Almost 90% of new house construction is non-wood compared with only 10% in the US so it is easy to see why Stora Enso believes in the power of wood.

Engineered wood products have helped change the image of wood. With excellent strength properties and top level fire resistance, buildings up to eight stories have been constructed with plans for a 20-story building in the works.

Why hasn't wood enjoyed more success? Mikkola says there are various reasons. The industry has been too fragmented; its position in the value chain is still unclear; and, wood is often uncompetitive compared with other materials.

Stora Enso is trying to change the equation. Since 2008, it has delivered 1,500 wood construction projects. Its cross laminated timber (CLT) can be made in widths up to 400 mm, 2.95 m wide and 16 m long.

Stora Enso aims to go into more modular building. This can save 50-70% of the time normally required to construct a unit. Currently, there are projects underway across Europe including the Wood City apartment complex in Helsinki.

On the biomaterials side, Stora Enso's Sunila biorefinery in Finland will see up to 90% of its natural gas in the lime kiln replaced by lignin. The project includes a lignin extraction plant and dryer, a lignin dust burner in the lime kiln and a packaging line for external sales of lignin. It is also looking at other applications for lignin such as an alternative to phenols in plywood glue.

The company is looking at "back integration" products for its pulp mills: micro-cellulose; chemically modified cellulose; renewable intermediates.

Of course, the Montes del Plata mill in Uruguay, Stora Enso's joint venture with Arauco, attracted a lot of attention. The mill has been delayed but is almost complete. Some environmental permits still need to be approved. When the mill is going, Stora Enso will be the world's fourth largest market pulp producer. Its 50% share of the 1.3-million tonne/yr mill will be sold as market pulp.

The Finnish Forest Industries Federation provided an overview of the industry. Despite the hard times faced recently, the industry still accounts for four of Finland's top 10 exports with coated paper at number two with a value of Euro 1.9 billion.

Between 2006 and 2011, about four million tonnes of capacity was closed but the real drop was only about 2.4 million tonnes because of upgrade projects and incremental increases in capacity. Adjusting capacity to demand is still an unfinished task.

Investments in the industry have been on the upswing recently but still below the peak in 2008. Although paper production has fallen, its export value has remained relatively stable.

As the bio-sector takes a hold in the forest products industry, attracting young talent to work in the industry may become an easier task.

Giving the industry a lift

The tour moved out of Helsinki on the third day, heading out to Konecranes. Hannu Piispanen, industry specialist, pulp and paper, says the business is stable globally. With the Asian market still being the leader.

Konecranes does have a success story at the Norampac Greenpac mill in the US, which is in its final tuning stage. It supplied the paper machine wet and dry end cranes as well as automated roll storage system.

One of the big trends for cranes is the increasing automation in all areas. This includes remote diagnostics, advances in data analytics, smart warehousing and planned maintenance. One of the company's objectives is to have all its cranes online in the future. At the moment, more than 6,100 new deliveries feature the TRUCONNECT® remote service connection.

Piispanen said a company now needs to be very quick in response to customers' issues and problems. It is not a question of "who pays" but one of how fast can a problem be solved. Up to 30% of Konecranes' business now comes from the service sector and this includes servicing other crane makers' products.

Over time, as mills rebuild and upgrade, they can modernize cranes but usually can only increase lifting capacity by a few percentage points. As rolls get bigger and heavier, new cranes are needed. A crane's life cycle is usually about two million work cycles before an overhaul is needed: stress tests on the frame, check/replace gears and brakes. Generally, the designed working life of a crane is 20 years.

Konecranes has developed a tissue crane for rolls up to 2.4 m diameter using a mechanical gripper. The gripper has six pads so pressure on the roll is low and the design ensures no deformation of the roll. A big advantage compared with vacuum lifters is the safety aspect. In case of a total power loss, the gripper can hold the roll indefinitely.

Close to Konecranes sits Kumera's headquarters. It has three divisions: power transmission; technology and its foundry. The first includes mechanical drives and gearboxes while the second is responsible for process equipment, feasibility studies and other components. As well as selling independently, Kumera has a long history of supplying many of the well-known OEMs.

It is also looking at the web to increase business and customers can shop online for mechanical transmission products through the Kumera Power Plaza.

Technology director Vesa Laine went over some of the company's new developments including its girth gear drive. Typically, perfect tooth contact between the girth's gear and pinion is hard to achieve. Kumera's Active Drive (KAD 500 and KAD 600) are designed to ensure optimal load distribution on girth gear teeth through years of operation without the need of high accuracy alignment. With the Active Drive, the pinion is free to tilt clockwise to achieve 100% tooth contact.

Serviceability is easy. Because of its compact size, it is a good choice for retrofits.

Kumera also has a new Yankee drive. Compared with earlier designs, this one features a vertical, not horizontal split in the housing. It features cost effective construction with good mechanical and thermal capacity.

A burning issue

Founded in 1961, Oilon Energy builds burners for liquid and gasified fuels, with capacities going up to 80,000 kW. The company's goal is to help customers provide environmentally-friendly energy, i.e. low emissions and good efficiency. Tapio Murtonen, business director, explained, "We can burn whatever liquid or gas as long as it contains some heating value."

Its Ultrax model is designed for ultra-low emissions, less than 100 mg/nm3 of NOX. Oilon has technology for gasification from wood. Its first delivery was scheduled for April with commissioning later this year.

In the pulp and paper industry, Oilon provides power boiler and recovery boiler burners for the major OEMs. For example, at the Wisaforest (Finland) mill, it provided five load burners, 10 startup burners and one odorous gas burner for the recovery boiler.

As well as conventional energy production from fuels such as natural gas, heavy and light oil, Oilon is also making a name for itself by developing burners for pyrolysis oil from biomass, gasification gas (bio-based methanol and turpentine), pulp and paper process gases. Sustainable energy solutions are a small part of the business now, Murtonen said, but are growing in importance.

At present it does not make burners for dust/powder, "but who knows about the future?" Murtonen added.

Kytola Instruments was officially founded in 1945 but its origins date back to early part of the 20th Century when the Kytola family had its start making timepieces. Still a family-owned company, Kytola now makes precision flow measuring and monitoring instruments for oil. It also has oil analyzers that monitor color as a color change may indicate a problem.

The pulp and paper industry is still the company's largest customer accounting for more than 50% of sales but in recent years, Kytola has made strides in the chemical, mining and agricultural fields.

As with some of the other companies visited, Kytola sells most of its equipment through the OEMs although it can customize equipment for a specific application. Managing director Sakari Hãyrynen said many customers will instruct the OEMs to use Kytola products. With direct sales to more than 60 countries (80-90% of production is exported), he added," Our best sales representative is the product itself."

Sales manager Jari Auvinen said the company's Oval Flow oil lubrication monitoring system is its most popular item with the pulp and paper industry. "Most bearing failures are caused by lubrication problems (insufficient lubrication or contamination) and this is our expertise."

Information can be connected to a customer's distributed control system if desired. "A mill is a harsh environment but our equipment features a very robust design," Auvinen added. "It can easily be retrofitted in most applications."

Kytola's online D1500 oil color analyzer is new on the market and instantly shows changes in oil color. This saves time compared with traditional laboratory test thus allowing corrective measures to be taken before equipment failure.

Kytola also has a line of sealing water monitors that monitor flow and pressure which give a picture of seal condition. The Kytola SLM is compatible with all seal types.

A black belt in quality

The former Tamfelt is now part of Valmet's Service Business. The company can trace its roots back to 1797 and its first paper machine felt order was received in December 1882.

Although most known for its paper machine clothing, the division also has at least 400 customers outside the pulp and paper industry including mining, chemical and environmental businesses. Between 2010 and 2013, sales growth was 5.4%/yr.

Valmet's latest belt offering is BlackBelt E. A new casting line installed in 2013 doubled the Tampere facility's capacity. Valmet manufactures belts by centrifugal casting inside a mold. By June 2014, it was expected that nine different diameters would be available. Jari Stålhammar explained that a shoe press belt is the most expensive of any paper machine clothing.

The Black Belt E is suitable for any type of shoe press. There are various surface options: smooth, discontinuously grooved; semi-grooved (pulp and fluting); grooved (for fast paper and board machines); and high-density grooved (high-density narrow grooves for groove marking sensitive paper machines, e.g., high quality fine paper).

There are about 800 shoe press paper machines worldwide and Stålhammar estimated belt life to vary between six months and two years depending on the grade. Furnish quality can also affect belt life.

Five full­scale biotechnology projects

Not far from the clothing facility, Valmet's Pulp and Energy division has its R&D center in Tampere. The company spends between Euro 15 and 20 million on R&D annually. This facility is the center for power system, air pollution and bioenergy R&D.

At the small-scale, the center houses two fluidized bed tube reactors and several cold models. At the pilot scale, it has one bubbling fluidized bed boiler and one circulating fluidized bed boiler. The center can produce 165 tonnes/yr of pyrolysis fuel and has tested more than 50 fuels and 100 fuel mixtures.

Markku Kivistö,is vice president, operational excellence, paper and energy business line. He said the cornerstone of the business is developing new biotechnology solutions.

There are five full-scale projects involving biotechnology underway including LignoBoost. The others are: biomass gasification where 140 MW of gas will replace coal; waste gasification with a hot gas filter; biomass indirect gasification; and biomass fast pyrolysis. The latter is being done in conjunction with Fortum in Finland and with a CHP plant will produce pyrolysis oil.

Farther into the future, Valmet is looking at bio-coal. It uses a steam explosion process to produce pellets from a wood-based raw material that can be used in conjunction with coal. Other areas being studied include torrefaction, oxy-fuels, ash leaching, agro-fuels and pulverized pellets.

The final stop on the tour was the Stora Enso R&D center near Lappeenranta as well as a visit to the company's Imatra Mills Kaukopää site. This will be the subject of a future PPI feature.

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