Switching to remote gear in bleach plant upgrade

Apr 24, 2024

Phoenix Pulp and Paper’s bleach plant upgrade project faced challenges, as the pandemic restrictions ruled out onsite support. Thorough planning and close collaboration based on trust enabled the project to be successfully implemented on plan and on schedule with remote arrangements.

During the fourth quarter of 2021, Valmet successfully carried out the installation and commissioning of a bleach plant upgrade project at Thailand’s Phoenix Pulp and Paper, a subsidiary of SCGP. A unique aspect of this start-up was that it was done using remote support during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Valmet’s scope of delivery to the mill in Khon Kean, Thailand, for the bleach plant upgrade comprised two TRPW 932 TwinRoll Presses, two LQF2 Liquor Filters, basic engineering, spare parts and site services. The main aim of this upgrade was to reduce the effluent discharge and freshwater consumption of the mill’s #1 fiber line.

Phoenix pulp and paper TwinPress

Both Valmet TRPW 932 TwinRoll Presses were installed and commissioned on schedule.

Rearranging project implementation to remote mode

Even though this project was executed during the Covid-19 pandemic, when international travel restrictions were imposed and specialists from Valmet’s local team in India could not travel to the customer’s mill site in Thailand to supervise the installation and start-up, Phoenix wanted to maintain their project schedule.

All the modification work had to be carried out during the mill’s annual shutdown, which, of course, had already been scheduled long in advance. Rescheduling the project would have had negative impacts for Phoenix, and Valmet’s teams in India and Sweden addressed this sensitive situation. It was jointly decided to support Phoenix by planning every activity extremely thoroughly, with remote availability around the clock. Phoenix agreed to Valmet’s detailed proposal and accepted the challenge of moving forward with remotely supported installation and start-up.

Remote support proves its effectiveness

Great teamwork between the Phoenix and Valmet teams in the different countries helped ensure the success of this challenging project. Installation activities began smoothly, and Phoenix was clearly impressed with the quality and thoroughness of Valmet’s step-by-step monitoring.

phoenix pulp and paper twin roll presses

The TwinRoll presses installation has helped to reduce fresh water consumption and effluent discharge from the bleach plant by 0.5 million cubic meters/year.

Good communication between all the stakeholders overcame any language barriers and resulted in the effective completion of the equipment installation. The smooth installation process was crucial to building up the customer’s confidence that the start-up could be executed effectively using remote support technology.

Access to the Phoenix mill’s DCS from the remote “control room” was a major key to the success. The fact that Phoenix also had prior operational knowledge of Valmet’s equipment and processes was very helpful. Based on the excellent teamwork, the bleach plant upgrade project was successfully commissioned on schedule in October 2021, and it fully met the customer’s expectations.

Long-term collaboration based on trust

Phoenix initially chose Valmet’s solutions and products for this project because of Valmet’s proven technology and good service. Valmet and Phoenix, including its parent company, have a long history of successful association and collaboration. The customer’s confidence in Valmet was clearly demonstrated when they granted remote direct access to the plant’s DCS. Valmet earned even more trust from Phoenix by providing exceptional support in meeting their project schedules and objectives.

phoenix pulp and paper valmet performance center

Thanks to the advanced digital tools and teamwork between Phoenix and the Valmet teams from India, Sweden and Thailand, this is the first time Valmet has remotely executed equipment installation and commissioning for such a large rebuild project in the Asia-Pacific area. Illustrative image from one of Valmet Performance Centers.

Results speak for themselves

Phoenix’s target with the plant upgrade project was to reduce freshwater consumption and effluent discharge from the bleach plant. In addition, they wanted to improve the reliability and availability of the line by using the latest pulp washing technology and to reduce the NaOH, or caustic soda, load in the bleach plant.

Valmet’s unwavering support for the remote bleach plant rebuild was astonishing.

With the installation of the TwinRoll presses in the bleach plant, Phoenix has been able to reduce freshwater consumption by 0.5 million cubic meters per year and cut effluent discharge from the process by 0.5 million cubic meters per year. In addition, it has decreased NaOH use in the bleaching process by 260,000 kg/year.

Thanks to the advanced digital tools and teamwork between Phoenix and the Valmet teams from India, Sweden and Thailand, this is the first time Valmet has remotely executed equipment installation and commissioning for such a large rebuild project in the Asia-Pacific area. And they proved it could be done successfully. 

Text Hugh O'Brian PHOTOS Mr. Pholson Kaensumrong 

Thorough planning for remote support

Valmet and Phoenix held numerous intensive discussions to work out in detail how the mechanical installation and start-up could be carried out with remote support from Valmet’s team in India and local support from the team in Thailand.

Valmet proposed the following action plan:

  • Valmet’s engineers in Thailand would be on the customer’s site to coordinate interactions between the customer and the Valmet team in India to support both the mechanical installation and the start-up.
  • Valmet’s team in Thailand would also arrange live video streaming of the real-time site situation to the team in India and help solve any problems that might arise during installation, commissioning and start-up.
  • A remote-control room, mirroring the Phoenix mill, would be set up in Valmet’s office in Chennai, India.
  • Remote access to the DCS would be provided to the team in India.
  • Each activity would be planned at micro level, including the provision of step-by-step instructions to the customer to avoid any miscommunication or misunderstanding.
  • Regular and frequent Teams meetings would be held to review site progress and adherence to schedules.