Securing investments through comprehensive pilot trials for the paper and board industry

Aug 20, 2020

Valmet’s comprehensive pilot facilities for paper and board manufacturers cover the entire range of paper and board production processes – from stock preparation to coatings. They offer customers end-to-end service and reliable results to support and secure their investment decisions.

To secure their successful future, paper and board producers seek effective ways to meet the increasingly stringent environmental regulations and to capture the opportunities emerging as a result of the increased interest in solutions based on renewable raw materials. Through its pilot facilities covering the whole production process, Valmet can support its paper and board producing customers with comparing different process configurations and testing raw materials in order to secure their investment decisions.

Development focus strongly impacted by megatrends

Concerns about climate change and marine plastic pollution, the pursuit for a circular economy as well as the increased use of non-fossil raw materials are all driving the development efforts within paper and board making.

“We see these developments clearly in the pilot trials we perform for our customers. Trials are made in order to test the addition of plastic-like qualities, barriers, to paper and board, to increase energy efficiency or to test new raw materials, such as micro fibrillated cellulose, MFC, to mention a few examples,” says Sampo Immonen, Head of Line R&D at Valmet Paper Technology Center in Jyväskylä, Finland.

Recycling has long been an established part of paper and board making – a single wood fiber can be recycled up to seven times, and solutions that enable even more recycling rounds are on their way.

“However, there is a growing interest towards other types of recycled raw materials, too. For example, we have tested the processing of used textiles and shoe soles for our customers – and helped them to decide whether to go further with the raw material or not,” explains Harri Nerg, Senior Manager at Valmet Fiber Technology Center in Inkeroinen, Finland.

Valmet offers its customers extensive testing opportunities spanning the entire production process – from stock preparation to coatings and everything between – prior to making an investment commitment. The pilot process can be built as a copy of the customer’s current process configuration or, alternatively, as the configuration the customer is looking to set up. Customers are encouraged to bring in their own base materials, from pulp to coatings, to ensure realistic testing results.

Pilot trials for stock preparation, recycled fiber and MFC development

For paper and board manufacturers, Valmet Fiber Technology Center in Inkeroinen offers complete pilot processes for stock preparation and recycled fiber as well as laboratory services.

“A customer may be looking to produce high-quality paper or board that meets certain strength targets, or they may be aiming to optimize the raw material mix to be more competitive, or they perhaps want to be sure about the right concept and minimize the investment risks – we can help them with all these issues,” Nerg says.

In addition to stock preparation, recycled fiber pilot trials with complete OCC or DIP lines are offered, as are individual subprocesses.

“We also provide piloting solutions for MFC development, including pulping, high- and low-consistency refining, screening and mixing, as well as versatile laboratory services,” says Nerg.

At Inkeroinen, customers are served by a highly competent pilot facility team of more than 10 professionals, and the team can be extended by experts from other parts of Valmet as well as by suppliers and partners, when needed. Approximately 120 customer test runs are conducted every year at Inkeroinen.

In pursuit of optimal paper and board manufacturing configurations

At the Jyväskylä pilot facility, Valmet offers extensive testing services with two pilot machines covering all paper and board machine processes – from headbox to drying – for all paper and board grades. It is possible to test several different configurations to serve customers’ specific papermaking needs. The maximum grammage in trials has been 405 gsm and the maximum speed has been measured at 2525 m/min.

“Customers often come to us when they are considering a production line modernization to improve their existing papermaking processes or an investment in a totally new production line. Our piloting services can help customers to develop the optimal configuration to support their paper and board making demands – and to make secure investment decisions,” Immonen explains.

The pilot trial team in Jyväskylä consists of nearly 20 experienced experts who are not only highly competent in the trial process but also have the capability to develop new solutions. The laboratory employs almost 10 laboratory professionals and serves in both pulp and end-product testing. In addition, there are several Valmet experts that actively participate in trial processes.

Lighter end products and enhanced printability through finishing piloting

Valmet Paper Technology Center in Järvenpää provides the world’s most comprehensive offering of finishing testing and piloting services for paper and board manufacturers worldwide. Pilot trials can include sizing, coating, calendaring, reeling and winding. The maximum grammage in trials is 500 gsm and the current speed record is 3150 m/min.

“In Järvenpää, our team of over 10 test trial professionals helps customers create lighter end products or improve printability features,” Immonen says.

In 2019, the sizing section at the pilot facility was updated with new spray beams and rolls to offer more efficient and accurate piloting services for surface sizing. All the available surface sizing technologies – film, spray and bond applications, with soft or hard rolls – can now be tested in a mill-like environment. With the renewed sizing station, concept changes can be done in a day. This is a great advantage when a customer wants to compare different surface sizing methods.

Normally, customers come to the pilot facilities to be part of the trial team and to work in close collaboration with Valmet’s experts. However, Valmet’s pilot facilities are equipped with online video monitoring systems, making trials available also remotely. Through a video connection, Valmet’s trial team can demonstrate the most essential pilot trial elements to customers and daily online meetings keep them up to date about trial progress.

Valmet Fiber Technology Center in Inkeroinen, Finland

  • Operating since 1984
  • More than 10,000 pilot trials carried out
  • Personnel
    • Process managers
    • Mechanical supervisors
    • Laboratory technicians
  • Stock preparation pilot trials
    • Processes available
      • Vertical bale pulping
      • Refining pulpers for broke handling
      • Pressure screens
      • Deflaking
      • Low- and high-consistency broke screening for simulation
  • Recycled fiber pilot trials
    • Drum pulping for continuous slushing
    • Low- and high-consistency pulping
    • Screening
    • Dispersing of dirt specs and sticky particles
    • Refining at high or low consistency
    • Flotation cells for ink removal
    • Disperger for contaminant and ink dispersion
    • Gap-washing technology for pulp washing
    • Refiners for both high- and low-consistency refining alternatives
    • High-consistency peroxide and low-consistency hydrosulfite bleaching
  • Laboratory services

Valmet Paper Technology Center in Jyväskylä, Finland

  • Operating since 1960s
  • Personnel
    • pilot trial experts
    • laboratory technicians
  • Number of trial days 2015 - 2020
    • 429 days
  • Paper and board pilot facility
    • Two pilot machines covering all paper and board machine processes
      • Headbox
      • Forming
      • Pressing
      • Drying
    • All paper and board grades
    • Several configurations
  • Laboratory services

Valmet Paper Technology Center in Järvenpää, Finland

  • Operating since 1984
  • Personnel
    • pilot trial experts
    • laboratory technician
  • Number of trial days 2015 - 2020
    • 1,076 days
  • Pilot trials for finishing
    • Sizing
    • Coating
    • Calendaring
    • Reeling
    • Winding
  • Laboratory services