Close collaboration and digital tools, success factors when Valmet supported start-up of new tissue machine remotely

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic seemed to be a showstopper for a planned start-up of the new tissue line. Persistent work and efficient collaboration through digital tools turned the impossible to possible.

Author: Valmet

During spring 2020 the tissue paper shelves in super markets were empty and there was a pressure on tissue producers to increase their production. At the same time a new tissue machine was installed in one of Valmet’s customer mills, waiting for commissioning and start-up. So, what to do? Exceptional situations demand new perspectives and new ways of working. “Postponing the start-up wasn’t really an option, we had to find a way for the mill team to act as our eyes and hands supported by us remotely” – says Pyry Hämäläinen, Main Contract Project Manager at Valmet.

Valmet’s Performance Center was set up like a control room. Close to the customer, even from a distance

Comprehensive planning

Commissioning and starting up a new tissue machine is a big effort which requires careful planning from both sides. This became even more evident when Valmet’s on-site crew planned to commission and start up the machine remotely. “We began by identifying what the mill team could do themselves, what we could manage together and what they needed us to do. Many questions had to be solved, from the infrastructure at site to the number of shifts, collaboration tools and last but not least the agreeing of responsibilities”, says Hämäläinen.

Pyry Hämäläinen and his team could monitor the site activities in real time

Smart tools, technical skills and trust in each other

Next step was to prepare for the start-up. Valmet’s team included people from four different countries to ensure all required competences andability to support 24/7.
The customer’s team were handpicked based on their technical skills. A crucial element was system access which is the foundation for remote support. “In this case we needed access to the DCS system – adds Hämäläinen – and a set of live cameras complemented with tablets to follow all actions and details at site. We reviewed the best tools to ensure efficient collaboration and enable customer support. A major benefit was that multiple teams could work on different issues at the same time which significantly improved the efficiency”.

Being close even when distant

Instead of spending long days at the mill, the start-up crew spent all their working hours in remote offices in Europe and North America, closely cooperating with the mill team. The work was coordinated from Valmet Performance Center in Sweden, set up like a control room. From there they could follow most of what happened with cameras and controls, in real time. “When we were changing parameters, we could instantly see the results and even stop if something seemed to be going wrong. That reduced the risk of permanent damage and made it easier for us to be close to site – even if we were thousands of miles away. One benefit of being “at home” was the instant access to engineering and automation competence. In a few minutes, the support we needed was in the room” – explains Hämäläinen. After the joint team’s hard work, the first roll was winded up according to schedule.

Valmet’s flexible tissue making technology provides sustainable production of all types of grades

True team workaround the clock

“Together with the customer we formed a single strong team, working together day and night. Whatever the issues, we overcame them jointly. It wasn’t a one-company, or one-man show, it was a joint effort. I am very proud of our team – they did a brilliant job and walked the extra mile to get there” – says Hämäläinen. The customer’s crew was very skilled acting as Valmet’s hands and eyes when they were doing the work. At the same time, they gained a deep understanding about the machine and the process – knowledge that will benefit both companies in the future.

Making the impossible possible

“In this project we have been forced to think outside the box and look from different angles when going from hands-on work to remote support. The pandemic has shed light on the importance of re-thinking how we work and challenging old habits. Initially – says Hämäläinen – nobody knew how it would turn out and we were aware of the potential risks. But in the end, we managed to turn the challenges into possibilities”. Valmet Performance Center support customers through different Industrial Internet solutions and applications on daily basis. However, this was the first but not the last time digital tools and remote work were used to support a start-up. Thanks to the reliable and easy to operate Advantage DCT technology, Industrial Internet connections and most importantly the great teamwork, the machine started up smoothly according to plan.


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