Return on investment
You may have heard that the payback time for investing into mill digitalization may be anything from only 2 to 12 months. If your starting point is at zero, the first month will already show you many small, previously undetected issues in your process. The savings you could possibly achieve by making adjustments to just one data point can have a distinct ripple effect. For customers that have started on the digital journey, they quickly realize they could no longer live without it.
Control loop performance monitoring is designed to identify the root cause of any control valve performance issues. Quite often you’ll find the cause to simply be poor loop tuning. If optimizing the performance of a single control loop could save you a hundred dollars each day, imagine what you could save by optimally tuning a thousand similar loops within your process. When you have all of the real-time data available, these actions can be carried out semi-automatically, and a whole lot faster than would ever be possible with loop tuning carried out based on manual audits and inspections.
Harnessing the full potential of the wealth of available data requires a commitment from customers. All the data you need to optimize your mill processes already exist in the process control system. It is merely a question of first capturing it, and then actively using it. There can easily be up to 10 000 data inputs in a single paper machine. Big data mining systems are able to show you even the smallest changes taking place over time. We, at Neles, actively monitor and analyze data, providing specific, detailed recommendations and action plans.
In most plants, there are planty of opportunities to improve profitability and ensure process uptime. The savings can be realized quickly, after following up on the recommendations. Many corrective actions can be done while the process is running, bringing the savings very quickly.
While gathered process data can serve you, helping detect issues and act in advance to prevent expensive unplanned shutdowns and lengthy machine down times, it is worth remembering that the biggest losses can take place during active operation, between 100% performance and 0%. Continuous monitoring and well-informed active service operations can help you make the most of your valves over their entire lifecycle. This is where the real continuous savings take place.
Leading the way
The pulp and paper industry has always been a step ahead of many other industries in terms of automation and digitalization. Neles' Expertune PlantTriage solution has already been on the market for 20 years, serving pulp, paper and bioindustry customers. Even though you can see your first results very quickly, embracing digitalization is still a long-term commitment. The more historical data you have, the clearer the overall picture becomes. We have customers that have been utilizing our digital tools since as early as 2004, building their system gradually and investing in upgrades every year, that are now at a point where 95% of their control loops are in automatic mode.
Benefits can only be sustained when you update work practices and procedures to include the digital diagnostics, reporting, and follow-through. For a new customer getting started with Expertune PlantTriage tools, we typically provide a week of intensive operator training based on the mill’s KPIs and consult on the system until they are equipped to run operations completely independently. Some of our customers choose to build their own in-house teams to leverage the wealth of new process data, while others invest in having continued support provided by us, either on-site or via remote access.
Shaping the future
Together with our customers, we are already working on the future of digitalization within the industry, moving towards increasingly crossing data borders, for example between process information, spare parts inventory data, and service history. Digitalization will continue to shape the industry, and we are committed to being one of the architects of the renewal taking place in pulp, paper and bioproducts.
This blog post has been up-dated in July 2020, due to company name change to Neles.