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Kraft Pulp Mill Moves to Centralized Control

An expansion project for what will become the world’s largest production line for bleached softwood kraft pulp includes the industry’s first integrated automation system managing end-to-end production from a single control room.

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Granted, all industries are facing digital disruption these days. But if you want to see an industry that’s been hard hit for quite some time by digital evolution, take a look at pulp and paper—not surprising, given our ever-continuing move away from paper-based media.

To survive in this lean industry, pulp mills are getting in on a trend benefitting a range of process industries like oil exploration and chemical manufacturing—integrating the control of disparate assets into a single location. In what ABB is calling a pulp industry first, forest products company SCA will introduce centralized control to its Östrand kraft pulp mill in Timrå, Sweden.

Pulp mills traditionally manage various operations such as woodyard, digester, recovery boiler, etc., from separate control rooms. But when the world’s largest production line for bleached softwood kraft pulp comes online next June, it will use ABB’s System 800xA automation platform and custom-engineered software to manage end-to-end production from a single control room.

The fully integrated control system will help maximize connectivity and provide a full plant overview of the whole process and all devices. Integrating the management and control systems of the entire production process will increase efficiency and productivity of all processes, according to ABB, and the collaborative environment will improve operations, engineering, control and maintenance.

“By utilizing our systems as an integrated platform for the entire plant, we can contribute to SCA Östrand’s goal of creating the world’s most modern and efficient softwood kraft pulp mill,” said Roger Bailey, managing director of ABB’s Process Industries business.

As part of an SEK 7.8 billion (about $970 million) investment to expand its Östrand kraft pulp mill, SCA has hired ABB to engineer the control system, optimize all processes, and design the control room. The order also includes a simulator for testing the control of all processes in the mill before delivery, and for operator training and process optimization over time. To ensure smooth commissioning, five simulators will be used at the same time before and during startup.

All operators will monitor and control the entire mill from eight Extended Operator Workplaces. This type of environment aims to create proactive control centers that will also attract a new generation of operators to the pulp and paper industry.


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