The IIoT and the IoP enable paper mills to manage production processes with a digital platform. With its various levels, this platform can be accessed by anyone from operators to managers, even from a cell phone.
In the industrial sector, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) has become increasingly important. The main focus lies on smart digital solutions to optimize performance and increase the efficiency of the production process. The Andritz Group has always been at the forefront of this development and has launched several digital products successfully for the pulp and paper industries. Lukas Wiesegger, senior sales manager at Andritz,spoke about this development at the 2018 Aticelca Congress held last May in Villalta di Gazzo near Padua in Italy.
In 2017, Andritz launched Metris, a new umbrella brand for all its digital IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) solutions. OPP (Optimization of Process Performance) is one of the many products in the Metris portfolio, combining the Internet of Things (IoT) and the Internet of People (IoP) to offer highly efficient, digitalized management of paper mill maintenance.
«We have developed a specialized, smart digital platform. Created so that it can be customized for the specifics of each paper mill, it enables overall productivity to be increased and machine downtime to be reduced – optimizing maintenance as well as lowering the energy costs of the mill» says Lukas Wiesegger. It has been calculated that use of the platform provides cost savings of between 10 and 30%. Various projects are currently underway, and so far a total of 150 million euros have been saved by customers without having to make any capital investment.
The Metris IIoT solutions are based on smart sensors, big data, and also augmented reality (AR) (figure 1).
«It all began in the paper mill – explains Wiesegger – where the work process of the mill is assessed by collecting relevant data and sending it to the Metris platform. With Metris OPP, our technicians can monitor the paper mill, ensuring support both on-site and remotely. The platform is, in fact, linked to an Andritz control system that enables an expert to be available to the paper mill operators at all times wherever they may be in the world. Interaction with the mill and resolving of any problems are possible thanks to the availability of appropriate tools, such as the augmented reality glasses linked to the main control system of the plant (figure 2). In addition, the data analysis allows continuous monitoring as well as implementing of preventive and proactive actions».
Then with Metris OPP there is also «the presence of a regional specialist on site, competent in matters concerning control and automation, and a general database that can be accessed at any time using the Metris software» alongside the platform.
Always present virtually
The platform is set up in various levels and covers the entire paper mill structure. «The maintenance technicians and operators can use AR to obtain data and run real-time diagnostics; the engineers can receive the big data and various information linked to the paper mill and use it to prepare statistics; whilst at the highest level they can create KPIs (key performance indicator) for use by managers and executives. One important function is the option of seeing data directly on their own cell phone, smartphone and tablet PC» (figure 3).
The Andritz technology also enables interactive maintenance operations and interventions. Thanks to AR, the information is accessible directly where it is required, namely at machine level or through the cloud. Amongst the functions made available by augmented reality there is also that of 3D animations, ideal both for support and for training. Holograms of some processes or operations that have to be carried out on the machine are shown to the operators beside the actual equipment. «This innovative technology ensures a very advanced, intuitive workflow that is simple to use,» concludes Wiesegger. With real-time operating data, our technicians can monitor operation of the machine and processes, whilst the associated material and documentation can be examined immediately, directly at the machine.
Experience in the field
With an annual production capacity of more than 600 thousand tons of cellulose, Metsä Group has chosen Andritz technology to develop and implement digital solutions within its own organization. The project began in 2013 with the installation of activators and sensors on the production line, and their numbers have increased over the years.
The sensors collect data 24/7 and offer information that enables the company to control the functioning of its machinery; the data is collected and then analyzed and managed. All this has enabled Metsä to optimize its own production process, coming to decisions and taking any corrective actions very rapidly, like the choice to apply new solutions that had not been considered in the past – all of this with a high return on investment and substantial improvement of the manufacturing quality.