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SCA Laakirchen - continually evolving automation

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SCA Laakirchen - continually evolving automation

July 07, 2011 - 16:00

BRUSSELS, July 8, 2011 (RISI) -The 1987 startup of SCA Publication Paper's PM 10 and groundwood furnish line in Laakirchen, Austria, launched a new role for the mill as a major SC publication paper producer. As with all paper production lines of that age, the automation available at the time played a pivotal role in ensuring good line efficiency. But time marched on into the new millennium and some of that automation infrastructure had become a little long in the tooth. Although the original Metso Damatic Classic DCS was still reliable, service issues were on the horizon and, most troubling, some other parts of the infrastructure were already unreliable or susceptible to security problems, even causing process shutdowns.

Now think about how the role of automation has expanded and changed since 1987. Remember, Windows user interfaces and desktop analysis tools had not yet found their way into industrial process control applications. And the mill's process control stations at that time were based on limited processing power and basic control applications, compared to today's standards. It was most certainly time for a change, so the Laakirchen mill has been systematically planning for the future of its automation assets and initiating improvements and lifecycle extensions over the past several years.

The mill has placed a high priority on ensuring and improving the value of the automation and information technology infrastructure - with a defined return on their continuing investments in mind. Metso's distributed control systems, diagnostic systems and information technology applications have demonstrated their value in ensuring the efficiency of the whole mill complex, including the woodyard, groundwood plant, deinking plant, effluent treatment plant and the new PM 11 SC publication paper line started up in 2002. The mill staff realized they could not let the reliability and performance of those assets slide and jeopardize the high process efficiency that they support. Although older control system technology may be reliable and relatively long lived, it cannot go on forever as obsolescence eventually catches up, service becomes difficult and expensive and major failures become a concern as products approach the end of their lifecycles. In the interim, a lot has happened to the state-of-the-art in automation process control system and network technology, intelligent field device interfaces, process and equipment condition diagnostics and instant-access information technology that we take for granted today. And many more advanced measurements and controls, diagnostic and IT applications have been developed in the intervening years to make papermaking more efficient with lower costs.

Siegfried Schober, automation project manager, outlined how the Laakirchen mill has dealt with issues of automation asset obsolescence and lifecycle management and how it has invested in new technologies and applications to improve reliability and serviceability while, at the same time, reducing costs and improving papermaking performance. The investments over the past several years have been justified by a well-defined return on investment. Schober says the automation renewal investments fit with SCA's strategic plans to continue to make existing facilities more efficient.

Siegfried Schober says the automation renewal investments fit with SCA’s strategic plans to continue to make existing facilities more efficient

The investments were determined each year from a list of priorities which included:

  • Ensuring high system security and uptime. These "must-do" projects were essential to avoid unexpected and costly production outages.
  • Lowering the costs of system service and engineering.
  • Improving papermaking efficiency and product quality.
  • Lowering the cost of field device and valve maintenance and engineering by providing more remote visibility to staff.
  • Ensuring high process uptime and effective mechanical service planning through on-line condition monitoring. Avoiding costly failures and ensuring worker safety were also priorities.
  • Implementing modern field communication technology rather than troublesome system links.
  • Improving the access to real-time process data, thus allowing mill staff to diagnose and correct process stability and quality issues.
Roland Stadlhuber, mechanical engineer, reports the new Sensodec 6S system has become an everyday papermaking tool. “The results of the vibration analysis are now available in seconds so we can see changes in mechanical condition. Unplanned maintenance has been reduced,” he states