A pilot trial at Valmet Tissue Technology Center is a cost-efficient and flexible way for tissue producers to carry out tests and evaluate new ideas, compared to testing in a commercial machine, and it doesn’t interrupt daily production. Likewise, testing what the possible operating window is for a certain process and product can be done more easily in a pilot facility environment.
Concern for climate and sustainability steer development efforts
The biggest global concerns of our time, such as climate change and scarcity of natural resources, have driven the need for more stringent climate and sustainability related requirements also for tissue production.
Increased resource efficiency and use of new raw materials are two of the areas that tissue producers are keen on developing today in order to meet the tightening climate and sustainability requirements and at the same time remain competitive.
Further development of attractive and competitive consumer products is also in their to-do list. The weight these hold on different producers’ agendas depends on the markets they serve and the end-use area their products represent. “We see, for example, clearly that new raw materials are coming strongly to tissue making on Asian markets. At our facility, customers have had pilot trials with straw, bamboo and bagasse, to name a few. The development of production processes suitable for these raw materials is an interesting focus area. On the other hand, on the very competitive North American markets it is important to be able to introduce new attractive consumer products regularly”, says Hans Ivarsson, Project Manager R&D at Valmet’s Tissue Technology Center in Karlstad, Sweden.
Leading technologies and expertise for maximum utilization of the complete tissue mill
Making pilot trials easy for customers
Valmet has put a lot of effort into making the pilot trials as easy as possible for customers – from planning to the actual trial run with laboratory services readily available. “No matter if a customer wants to optimize consumer products, improve machine properties or the blend of water, fiber and chemicals, or cut consumption figures – we can do it all”, Ivarsson says.
Planning starts already three to six months before the trial, and is based on the customer’s needs and targets, to ensure the best possible test run. Time has to be reserved also for the shipment of the customer’s pulp to Karlstad if needed.
A wide range of machine configurations available
Valmet’s pilot facility provides the broadest selection of machine configurations in the world. The machine provides many different concepts and configurations covering conventional, plain tissue, the advanced TAD process for premium-quality products, and the so-called hybrid processes for plain and structured tissue paper. Hybrid processes enable high quality textured and structured tissue with less energy consumption compared to the TAD process. In addition, different customer-specific, confidential configurations are also possible. Having a laboratory next to the pilot machine is a big advantage and means that samples can be analyzed very quickly. It takes only 10 to 15 minutes from the sample entering the laboratory before trial parameters can be changed based on the test result and the test run can continue. It is possible to make up to 20 changes per day to reach the customer’s targets, if needed.