Technologies

The opportunities offered by remote control

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In the age of physical distancing and travel and movement restrictions, distance management makes it possible for paper mills to entertain a precise and reliable relation with their suppliers. This is shown by New Aerodinamica, which is specialized in waste aspiration systems.

New Aerodinamica has always had a special relation with paper mills. «It was exactly in this field that my father, who founded the company in 1984, installed our first ventilator, » says New Aerodinamica owner Paolo Radaelli.

Since then, challenges were surely not missed, between achieved business results and the ability to meet customers’ requests. «The paper mill sector has peculiar features, » explains Radaelli. «In this sector, the speed of machines, the efficiency of all related installations and maintenance aspects rule the roost». This is why New Aerodinamica had to develop, since the beginning, highly performing ventilation techniques and tearing fans. «Over time, we put to the market the two fastest machines in Italy, operating at a speed of 2,800 meters per minute, thanks to our development activities and constant growth of the company».

With a view to a continuous improvement, the world of paper mills requires from companies, like New Aerodinamica, a tireless refinement of its equipment  and of approach to dimensioning aspects. «This challenge has turned out to be useful to improve in any aspect, » stresses Radaelli.  

Tailor-made installations

Automation and optimization are, of course, at the centre of the attention, when one talks about paper mills’ efficiency, as shown by the same Radaelli. «Our technologies provide for the aspiration of the trimmings from both the paper machine and the rewinder, as well as in other steps». The solutions provided by New Aerodinamica provide, indeed, for the aspiration of waste generated at various speeds. «The most complex aspect consists in keeping the trimming constantly under tension to avoid that the reel edge gets damaged and prevent that final customers submit complaints to the paper mill. We can guarantee this thanks to our system of modular “false air” with piston proportional to 4-20 mA, for an immediate and quick response in parallel with machine tension. These characteristics make our system performing at the hightest level».

Another area developed by New Aerodinamica in recent years is continuous aspiration of the tal during processing steps in the paper machine, as well as dust aspiration in the pulper in both wet and dry areas. «We actually cover the entire field of aspirations, from main aspirations on production machines to the cleaning around the same machines».

The core of installations is represented by New Aerodinamica’s tearing fan. «We produce seven different models of tearing fans, so that customers can choose the most adequate and performing model based on their actual needs: each installation is practically calculated from scratch and tailored upon the client, with constant improvements project after project».

On the wings of Industria 4.0

In the relations with its customers, New Aerodinamica has faced the COVID-19 emergency by further strengthening its services for the remote control and management of installations, thus meeting the need to maintain physical distancing and contribute to the subsequent acceleration of digitalization processes, which have characterized 2020.

«While we have been in business for over thirty years, ours is a young team, » specifies Radaelli. «We have a special relation with technology, which all of us, and myself in particular, are passionate about. Therefore, our major installations have already been equipped with the features foreseen by the digital program Industria 4.0 and necessary for remote connectivity for some years. 2020 only but led to an increase of requests to go in this direction and, above all, to a widening of our proposal. For example, following our indications, in February last year one of our customers in Greece had fortunately opted for a remote control electrical panel, and this made it possible for us to guarantee our supervision from Italy. The lockdown would have prevented us from physically visiting his premises for the maintenance service. In this way we have, therefore, been able to turn the installation on, and this greatly contributed to the satisfaction of our customer. » This was even more important, because it concerned a major project that involved aspiration lines from 90 to 150 meters, which all needed to be optimized and adjusted from remote. «The experience with our customer in Greece turned out to be particularly positive and pushed us to induce also other customers to opt for this solution. We recommended that they invest some more resources on remote connectivity, maybe to the detriment of other less decisive features. »

Remote connectivity has, thus, characterized the whole of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 for New Aerodinamica. «Neither us, nor our customers experienced a drastic shift, as even remote control panels have features that enabled customers to implement said control physically, e.g. a small onboard Ethernet network enabling connection to the PLC. In some cases, we only had to shift from a 7” panel to a 15” panel for improved visualization, also thanks to our past experiences».

Changes introduced with remote control

Paper mills have multiple advantages from remote control. «Due to the pandemic, travelling has become less obvious, given the many travel restrictions, requests for a negative test report and the need to undergo quarantine. However, given paper mills’ work schedules, we are all aware of the fact that their working environment always requires to act very swiftly when faced with a problem. Remote control makes it possible to have one’s supplier immediately present at the company, although virtually, in order to detect the causes of a technical problem and suggest necessary modifications, » stresses Radaelli.

Remote service interventions are, indeed, leaner and more flexible, as well as more immediate, and as such they prevent the customer to wait too long in the classical queues that characterize the physical presence of a supplier at their own business. «Last year I had the experience of four suppliers from four different nations, who were connected at the same time, in a moment of technical meeting and aggregation on the date and at the time chosen by the customer. There was no need to arrange flights, individual engagements and various needs that needed to coincide, and this helped us maximise the time management of all people involved».

Furthermore, remote connection offers advantages also in terms of reporting. «These systems record the trend of installations, anomalies and reminders for possible preventive maintenance services. This aspect is particularly interesting for our customers, as it prevents them to notice the aspiration system only when the latter has functioning problems, as often happens. As a matter of fact, I always remind customers that if the ventilator does not carry out its tasks as it should, this might have repercussions on the functioning of production machines».

To make the most of the advantages it offers, remote control must guarantee very precise characteristics. As explained by Radaelli, «remote control has, first and foremost, to be user-friendly: in the paper mill there are both engineers boasting a vast experience in technology, or young graduates who are well-trained in the programme Industria 4.0, and human resources who, while they have been working at the company for a long time, might be less familiar with digital aspects. Remote control systems make functions very easy to use from a visual standpoint, and they can, thus, be used by everybody. For example, we use high-level programmes, which are in the meantime free, so that the customer is not asked to pay for additional licences. At the same time, the new 15” panels now adopted make it possible to realistically show images of the installation, from the shape of the ventilator to that of the filter and the separator, to intuitively support the work of the operator».

Basically, remote control enables to manage any activity, except one. «While for maintenance activities it is necessary to be physically present, all activities related to optimizations, fine-tuning, flows and times checks, as well as the identification of anomalies can be controlled from remote. Any motor is managed by inverters. As a consequence, it is possible to know all parameters, like absorbance, consumption, frequency and pressure values, i.e. a whole series of information that make it possible to quickly detect any possible problem, should the customer call for support».

Remote control can also indirectly support companies with a greater awareness in terms of environmental sustainability. «Remote control might, for example, impact on the choice of motors, the use of belts, rechargeable lubricators and inverters capable of guaranteeing better performance in the starting condensers, by putting the ventilator “at rest” during reel change, thereby generally optimizing consumption and efficiency».

A glimpse of the future

For the future, New Aerodinamica aims at installing remote control on any of its installations. «Today we install inverters, which are certainly much cheaper compared to the past, also on 4 kW motors, with the aim to optimize, also in terms of costs, all accessories for Industria 4.0 and for remote supervision, » adds Radaelli. «At the same time, we intend to offer as much technology as possible, in order to provide the utmost support in terms of future control, automation and feedback, so as to reduce the investment’s overall cost».

This is basically music to the ears of customers, especially to those who are already well familiar with these opportunities and have already started taking this path. «Customers who are most likely to welcome these opportunities include some customers, who are particularty motivated to connect both production machines and ventilation systems, so as to be able to control their installation at any time and from any place. »

New Aerodinamica’s commitment is, however, to find the most suitable solution to customers’ specific needs, going into the substance of each installation on each occasion. This applies to any customer, to the more open-minded as well as to the ones who are more fearful of technology. «Industria 4.0 and remote supervision are certainly great opportunities, yet not everything need to be connected. What matters is provide each customer with its tailor-made technological solution. And this is exactly our mission, » concludes Radaelli, «which we carry on with the same enthusiasm and passion we had on the very first day. »

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