Improving margins in pulp and paper mills

16 July 2020

Bolster profits by switching to Predictive Maintenance

The likelihood of the paperless office may have been overstated, but there is no doubt that digital communications have made a huge dent in the traditional market for paper in recent years. 2015 saw the first ever drop in worldwide demand for graphic paper and markets across the North America and Europe have continued to shrink ever since. Meanwhile growth in demand for paper products in China has been slower than expected and Asian production is ramping up to displace imports from Europe and America.

The paper industry has fought back with strong growth in packaging board and tissue paper, as well in pulp for hygiene products and even textiles. There has also been a gradual process of consolidation, leading to fewer, larger players benefiting from greater efficiency and economies of scale. These countermoves have led to predictions of continuing growth, and data portal Statista suggests that the worldwide market for pulp and paper will reach $79.6 billion by 2024. Even so, more creative measures will be needed to optimize profit margins going forward.

Harness the power of prediction

Pulp_and_Paper_Mill_Senseye

Predictive Maintenance may seem like a niche topic against the backdrop of such sweeping changes, but with its ability to reduce expensive, unplanned downtime in half, the power of predictive maintenance to boost profit margins should not be underestimated.

Predictive Maintenance relies on monitoring the condition of machinery to spot when something is going to go wrong. This enables engineers to fix problems before they can impact on performance or disrupt production. So how much difference could that make to a paper mill?

The biggest saving is usually the result of cutting downtime. Senseye PdM users already include a range of blue-chip companies in manufacturing, heavy industry, automotive and FMCG, who typically enjoy a 50% reduction in downtime. With the estimated cost of unplanned downtime running at around $20,000 an hour for pulp and paper facilities, that soon adds up.

And the benefits don’t end there. Lower labor costs, optimized management of spares and the avoidance of any secondary damage to the mill or to product quality can also be expected. It all adds up to increased productivity of between 45 and 55% and an overall reduction in maintenance costs of between 10 and 40%.

How does it work?

Predictive Maintenance systems rely on effective condition monitoring – watching plant data for changing patterns of machine behavior that could be a sign of trouble brewing. The aim is to forecast when a breakdown will occur in time to prevent it from impacting on production. The latest automated systems such as Senseye PdM use advanced machine learning algorithms to provide condition monitoring without the need for human intervention.

These automated condition monitoring solutions are also cloud-based and readily scalable, making it easy to deploy on a few machines to start with, before rolling out more widely.

Better still, Senseye PdM is able to utilize existing data historians or maintenance systems, such as OSIsoft PI and Oracle EAM, adapting and enhancing maintenance arrangements. This means you can leverage prior investments to provide a robust Predictive Maintenance function while underpinning valuable cost savings.

What can I expect?

Existing Senseye PdM users include blue chip companies in manufacturing, heavy industry, automotive and FMCG, who typically enjoy a 50% reduction in unplanned downtime. Experience shows that they usually recoup the cost of their subscriptions between five and ten times in the first year alone.

In fact, Senseye is so confident that suitable customers will save money that Senseye PdM comes with the ROI Lock guarantee, which is unique in the industry. ROI Lock promises that if deploying Senseye PdM fails to reduce unplanned downtime as agreed upfront, customers can claim a refund on their entire subscription fee. In other words, opting for Senseye PdM is risk-free.

You can find more information about how Predictive Maintenance can support pulp and paper mills as they navigate the changing global business environment by downloading our white paper: Predictive maintenance promises increased margins for pulp and paper mills.

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