The modernisation of a production line consists of details: analysing, measuring, understanding where to intervene and suggesting the best solution.
Thanks to its long-lasting experience in equipment revamping, an Italian company tells us how this works.
The revamping of a piece of equipment or a machine requires competence and knowledge of processes. These are the aspects needed when a paper mill applies to a company dealing with revamping. After all, adequate knowledge of the means and modalities to implement revamping is fundamental, as is the understanding of the actual possibilities, especially the ones that have not yet been explored by the paper mill or that still unknown.
DM Progetti www.dmprogetti.com is an Italian company expert in revamping, with over 35 years in the paper-making industry. We asked its Managing Director Maurizio Destefanis to talk about revamping in the paper mill from their viewpoint.
Considering, measuring and analysing any aspect
The revamping of a piece of equipment or a machine implies, first and foremost, an exchange of views with the paper mill to understand its actual needs. «A request for revamping generally stems from the company, which has a feature that keeps on repeating always in the same way», tells Destefanis. «The company requires wishes to achieve higher quality and increased production, thereby trying to achieve the highest savings both in the investment done, and in the use of the equipment».
The request leads to a procedure, whose main aim is first and foremost to acquire a series of information. «We start from the collection of data about the machine and the process, to try and understand what one should do, and, above all, what level should be reached, i.e. if there is room for manoeuvre in our activity. The equipment has already come to the limit, and in this case one tries to improve the quality of production, which in turn translates into an attempt to give prestige to the product to sell».
Data is acquired both by collecting the documentation provided by the paper mill, i.e. production data and specific values of the area of the cycle where this is requested or where it is possible to intervene, and by carrying out personal measurements, where said measurements are either not present, or incomplete.
As often happens, also aspects and parameters are considered that the company does not always take into account or has simply not assessed, which, however, play a major role in the revamping of a piece of equipment. Then, there are decisive elements, which should never be forgotten. The Managing Director clarifies that «in all our analyses, a number of aspects are never neglected. One of the most important ones is securing the equipment, whereby this is a fundamental part for the safety of machine operators, who are the most important resource of any company».
The peculiarity of DM Progetti lies in its problem-solving ability. «We introduce ourselves to paper mills as the so-called “solution man”. We are capable of developing customized projects, which are tailored upon the needs of each specific situation». Destefanis explains the methodology adopted with every project, which is the same, irrespective of whether revamping is to be carried out on small parts of a machine or on a complete line. «We have the know-how and the skills to work on individual machines and equipment, alike. Our task, from time to time, is to find the most adequate solution, i.e. the one that brings about the best results at the lowest cost possible. Therefore, we carefully assess any aspect and, since the very beginning, we try and develop our ideas on paper and avail ourselves of a CAD 3D design software. We then bring these ideas forward in the overall development of the project, always in agreement with the customer and proposing solutions that are not only based on his needs, but also on our experience. We, therefore, range, from taking measurements with advanced tools inside the plant, to the project design of a possible solution, up to the building, assembly and final test of the machine or equipment».
Projects are conceived also to be further implemented in future stages. A company is not always in a position to make a significant investment from the beginning; giving it, therefore, the possibility to make a stepwise investment is a valid and economically sustainable solution.
As was previously said, advanced tools are often used. To this end, the Turin-based company uses a latest generation 3D scanner. As Destefanis explains, this tool has two rotors, which can spherically rotate by 360 degrees, thereby scanning the immediately surrounding area. This first step, which has to be carried out from different angles to then generate an accurate 3D image, makes it possible to create a cloud of dots, which ultimately represent the basic backbone of the 3D object. This structure will then be combined with the pictures made to the same angles, which, together with the cloud of dots, will create a 3D photo of the equipment or machine. The 3D picture that is processed thanks to these scans enables the measurement of several parameters at any time. «This scan laser is geolocalized and equipped with a whole set of tools, therefore it can provide exact date in time, GPS position and temperature of a specific moment in time. In other words, it provides for a precise mapping of the object and can, thus, provide a whole series of data, making it possible to check them, as well as to measure them». It is as if the system freezes the moment and detects all the parameters of that specific moment in a given time in place.
«This technology», says the Managing Director, «enables us to develop the revamping project with the utmost precision, up to the finest details and also introducing the necessary changes in the 3D document». This way, we can show the paper mill how the project will look like, once it is finished, and we can have a history of the various views of the equipment and its modifications.
From Italy to Egypt: how to move equipment
The operations needed to modernize a productive line can be very complex. «When we talk about optimization and revamping, we often refer to pieces of equipment that are often moved», says Destefanis. To this end, he tells us about the case of an Egyptian businessman who bought a piece of equipment in Italy from a bankrupt paper mill and then asked DM Progetti to provide for the moving and rehousing of the paper machine. «For this customer we have dealt with the complete marking of the equipment. Over the years we have developed a method, which enables us to trace any detail even after maintenance: in this is a marking process with automatic punching feature. The activity is classified with a photographic report, where every picture corresponds to the number of the marking, and the same correspondence is, in turn, found on the drawings, too. This way, the activity of reassembling the machine is extremely facilitated».
In this specific case, the customer was not a paper producer, but rather an entrepreneur in the footwear sector who wished to produce internally the shoe boxes, which he had had to buy up to that moment. Therefore, it was necessary to adapt the machine to the new production of cardboard for boxes.
«While disassembling the machine we analysed and revised all parts of the equipment, which were not in good state; then we designed the equipment to be installed in the new site in Egypt, and provided for the loads and foundations to be made, and we finally modernized the whole equipment. The machine was modified, and a fabric was added to the existing flat board, which was extended. Furthermore, we revised and improved the press and the drying area by adding new doctor blades, and we eventually revised and modernized the pope». All these modifications were done in Italy, where the equipment was built and pre-assembled.
The practice of acquiring equipment or machinery in other countries and moving them to one’s own plants is more common abroad than in Italy. In any case, this practice requires investments that are worth assessing from all points of view.
Several unknowns remain as to what happens in the near future. The Coronavirus pandemic has completely changed the situation and blocked certain situations. «Covid-19 has blocked investments», says the Managing Director; «businesses are now less confident in investing for the upgrade or installation of new machinery. Unfortunately, as long as the risk of a possible uptake of the virus after the summer persists, I believe that all activities will be stalled, waiting for the situation to calm. We will still have to ride out the current storm, but several paper mills have organized themselves to guarantee operations in full compliance with the norms on the safety of their employees and visitors. At the beginning of the lockdown period, our company was busy working on engineering activities. We postponed the activities related to the taking of measurements, which were understandably no longer possible to carry out, and continued working in smart working». Recovery will, eventually, occur, says eventually Destefanis, however «at the moment I believe the recovery with our foreign customers will be slower due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic».
A dotted service
The marking process with automatic punching used by DM Progetti is a system that guarantees the utmost reassembly of the various parts of the equipment.
Unlike the indications based on the traditionally used painting or tag systems, micropunching allows to carve numerical codes directly into the steel and more in depth. These numerical codes can be edited also through an app from your smartphone and correspond to the part that has to be disassembled. The possibility of carving the numerical codes directly into the steel prevents the risk for them to fade or get lost, not even in case of sandblasting and painting of the component. Besides the numbers, also bar codes or QR codes can also be punched directly on various parts of the machine. The creation of an interactive .pdf document, furthermore, enables to use tags to discover the history of the corresponding piece, with pictures, drawings and specifications. This is a very useful methodology, also in case of following maintenance activities or if the need arises to intervene at a later stage. Furthermore, as pointed out by Maurizio Destefanis, micropunching enables to create and file a document that contains all the parts of the machine or the equipment.
Thirty years of paper
DM Progetti was established in Grugliasco, in the province of Turin, Italy, in 1983 in Italia a Grugliasco. The company was founded in the Piedmont region, where it still headquartered today. Since its very foundation, the company has specialized in the paper and precision mechanics sector. It collaborates with major international producers, which manufacture machines and equipment for paper mills. Over the years, however, the company has expanded its competences and, although the paper industry remains its core business, it has opened up to industrial realities active in different sectors.
The technical staff of DM Progetti can offer a 2D and 3D mechanical design service and develops complex projects in all their phases, from the taking of measurements, to the assembly and test.
Besides the paper industry, the company designs plant solutions also for the oil & gas sector.