Ahead of the pack for South African carton board manufacture

Jun 20, 2016

The face of packaging is changing with the traditional carton board market seeing an increase in the demand for plastic packaging, especially in sectors of the food industry.

To stay abreast of these global trends and remain competitive in the market place, the way forward for South African-based Mpact Springs Mill was to improve operational efficiencies and product quality, reduce costs and increase output. 

Valmet was selected and privileged to partner with and assist this major packaging manufacturer in reducing its overall operating costs, while improving quality and increasing throughput. The scope of supply was the selection and installation of valves.

Howard Emmett, Mill Manager, Mpact Springs Mill

According to Howard Emmett, Mill Manager, Mpact Springs Mill, the demands of meeting their objectives were highly challenging as the mill has many complexities and works with recycled fibre to produce a world-class product. 

Mpact Springs Mill differentiates its products from competitors by producing very high quality board with excellent surface properties. One of the advantages of this is that suppliers are able to use multi-color print on their product, thus creating a high definition for marketing and advertising on the packaging. Further benefits are the rigid properties, which accommodate aesthetic and excellent shelf packing. Food safety accreditation is achieved by applying protective coating barriers that meet international standards for dry food packaging as well as moist and fatty food packaging. 

Another large factor is that 90% of the fibre used in the manufacturing process is from recycled fibre, which is environmentally friendly and crucial in today’s world. 

Valmet valves have helped with the optimisation of our production processes and lowered the entire manufacturing environmental footprint,” says Emmett. “Water conservation, energy and waste reduction is where Valmet’s expertise became a vital component to improve the entire process.” 

The Challenge 

In order to meet Mpact Springs Mill’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from an operational perspective, the mill had to consider control variability, equipment reliability, time and material efficiencies to achieve a higher level of total efficiency. Further down the line, the engineering department has KPIs regarding reliability, availability and sustainability of equipment. 

About three years ago Mpact Springs Mill introduced an operational improvement program that they named ‘The Way Forward’. “It is systematically structured to improve operational efficiency and thereby establish a sustainable and rewarding business for employees and shareholders. The sustainability of the mill will be determined by the success of this program,” comments Emmett.

“In order to set this up we had to consider all the dynamics of running a successful operation. We had to look at water, energy, safety, people development, cost management, business re-engineering, product development, investments and profitability etc. The program is planned over a 5-year period and all aspects have been considered. The program has been split into different disciplines with action lists developed for each discipline.”

Operational targets have been established for the next 3 years and the disciplines include: 

  • Housekeeping
  • Back to Basics
  • Electrical, Instrumentation and Automation
  • Mechanical
  • Board Making
  • Product Development
  • Production Bottlenecks
  • Investments
  • Safety & Risk Action Plan
  • Resource The Way Forward
  • People Development

Over the last three years Mpact Springs Mill has made significant investments into capital projects. Almost 90% of the investment capital was spent on quality improvement, energy reduction, process stability and total cost improvement. “It was not necessarily capacity that Mpact Springs Mill was looking for, but due to the improved efficiencies and optimization of the processes we did get capacity. We exceeded our quality improvement and energy efficiency targets at the same time, seeing a total cost reduction,” says Emmett. “If you get the basics right, it takes you to the next level.”

Mpact Springs Mill is a 24-hour operation, running 7 days a week, and therefore unnecessary downtime is averted at every opportunity. The company is proud of its excellent working relationship between staff and management, a vital element in a country that has become plagued with strikes. They have a large internal employee development program in place, plus they are committed to working with learners. The company also boasts an excellent safety and environmental record with all the relevant procedures in place and ISO certification.

Valmet's Commitment 

According to Regional Sales Manager Douglas McCrum, Mpact Springs Mill has, over the last number of projects, standardised on valves in their plant. “In the international arena, Valmet is highly reputable in the pulp and paper industries and has become renowned for reliability and control performance. The most up-to-date technology available on the market is being used in our valve controller design. 

“Taking these qualities into consideration has enabled us to assist Mpact Springs Mill to improve efficiencies and reduce any downtime or process variability that may occur due to valve failures. Our valve design is developed specifically for these applications,” says McCrum.

The range of valves and intelligent valve controllers is designed to eliminate emissions and increase process efficiency and reliability in the pulp and paper production process. The company was chosen as the main supplier of valves for Mpact Springs Mill due to the backing of its global expertise. “The dedication of our team getting to grips with what Mpact Springs Mill needed to achieve their goals went a very long way to Metso receiving the order. This went from considering the bottom line to setting up a dependable backup and support process during the project execution,” says McCrum.

The company’s proven track record of delivering engineered performance and reliability to the pulp and paper industry has made it the market leader in control and on-off valves globally. About 75% of the world’s pulp flows through valves, which is an enormous portion of the market.

The extensive valve order for Mpact Springs Mill included a total of 370 ball, segment and butterfly valves for on-off and control applications from the Vamet Flow Control product portfolios. The control valves are equipped with Neles ND9000 series intelligent valve controllers, which have the capability for advanced performance and diagnostics.

Further results are a reduced spares holding capacity and an increased lifetime. “The feedback from our customer is very positive: the Valmet team is capable, supportive, knowledgeable and dependable with their expertise,” concludes McCrum.   

TEXT: Verity Ross 
PHOTOS: Kevin Wright

Published in Results flow control customer magazine 1/2016.

Text originally published in 2016, and slightly updated in April 2022, due to the company name change to Valmet.