The Paper Manufacturing Industry:
Paper is generally produced with continuous process manufacturing, starting with the raw material of wood followed by fiber separating, bleaching, and further refinements. Within these primary stages are multiple steps with data points attached to each operation, making it ideal for utilizing IndustrialML’s methods
- Paper is initially mixed with processed water and then stirred in a stainless steel vat, called a pulper, to make a fiber suspension.
- Then paper machines remove water from the solution, which is comprised of 1% fiber and 99% water.
- A wire or forming fabric removes more water and ensures that the fibers are correctly weaved together.
- The paper web is passed through a series of rollers that squeeze the water out of the pulp mat. This compresses the fibers, so they intertwine to form a thick, smooth sheet.
- Drying cylinders get rid of almost all of the water at this point, having warmed the paper to upwards of 100 degrees celsius.
- In total, the journey from start to finish across the production line can be around half a kilometer. At the end, the paper is rolled into an enormous reel where it can be unwound into smaller rolls.
Regarding industry challenges in paper production, the most significant concerns are moving the paper through the stages as quickly as possible and reducing errors. Although there tends to be a lot of scrap during production, it is not a major concern from a monetary standpoint. Still, it will become increasingly prevalent as the supply of raw materials decreases.
The paper industry certainly has a lot to gain from digital manufacturing to reduce costs and better use the ever-decreasing raw materials. Data can be applied to almost all production areas, as paper and pulp production collects this information readily, so there is plenty of scope for it to be used for analytics and automation.
Where IndustrialML comes in
- Computer vision helps to improve the inspection of raw material quality. Integrating data from multiple sensors and displaying them in real-time allows remote monitoring to be possible.
- Real-time alerting from the sensors reduces the downtime and amount of scrap produced in the production line. Paper manufacturing is a consumer application so reducing the chances of a bad batch is imperative.
- In producing reams of paper, the processes are different from a conveyor belt production line discussed above. In this kind of batch processing, it’s easier to spot errors because there isn’t the same continuous movement. Remote monitoring along with dimensional analysis provides comprehensive quality inspection.