Operations Report

Cascades achieves sustainability and high quality following Voith Paper ATMOS installation

Results show TAD quality for kitchen towels with 100% secondary fibre and bath tissue with a blend of 60% minimum secondary fibre and eucalyptus virgin pulp

The Atmos TM2 at Cascades’ Canada-based Candiac mill

There is a good possibility that the first premium toilet paper was invented in China seven centuries ago and was made from tissue for exclusive use by the Emperor. Today, the developed world’s consumer urge for premium tissue products with high water absorption, good looks and feel still keeps high tech paper machines running.

Indeed, premium tissue production was the privilege of the industry majors with sizeable investments in new technologies and no energy trepidations. For more than 30 years, premium tissue was manufactured using Through-Air-Drying (TAD) technology, invented by Procter & Gamble who introduced a tissue machine which differs from a “conventional layout.” The TAD machine does not have a press and all water is removed through perforated dryer bringing higher bulk and much higher capacity to soak up liquid than a dry crepe technology.

In recent years the concept of “structured “or “textured” tissue that has been known for quite a while began its commercial phase. The previous efforts by several manufacturers (e-TAD by Georgia Pacific, STT -Structured Tissue Technology by Metso), while proving the trend, did not bring wide acceptance.

(From l-r) Cascades Ultra Bath Tissue; Cascades Towels at Metro-Plus supermarket; Cascades and private labels bath tissue at Metro-Plus supermarket; Cascades Tissue Group headquarter lobby

However, this concept dominates current activity to reduce energy consumption while achieving premium tissue parameters. Pressing as the most effective dewatering technology comes back in a new form using threedimensional belt fabric which can use conventional belt drive. This approach reduces capital investments required for equipment rebuilding and brings new offers from key machine suppliers like Voith (ATMOS) and Metso (NTT).

The ATMOS (Advance Tissue Molding Systems) is a novel technology developed at the Voith Paper Process Technology Center in São Paulo, Brazil, in collaboration with Voith Paper Fabrics division, which provided the fabric with embossing surface – the critical component of the process.

After a series of trials at Voith’s pilot facility the concept has proved to be successful for premium quality tissue production even from 100% secondary fibre. The first commercial installation was at South American-based CMPC. Using newly ordered twin-wire tissue machine as a basis, Voith completed full conversion to ATMOS by October 2006. An additional distinctive feature – a so-called swing machine – was also applied at CMPC’s Talagante site. This feature allowed running the ATMOS machine in conventional dry crepe mode by replacing the molding fabric with a press felt and by removing dewatering fabric. Currently CMPC is running ATMOS PM2 machine at a speed of 1200 m/min, with a small 15 ft. Yankee, and claims that the delivered product matches premium TAD output.


Two vital tissue market conditions – sustainable production process and growth potential for premium products – assured the next ATMOS operation at Cascades Tissue Group, which takes second place in the Canadian market and fourth place in the US. Cascades has developed and implemented its own sustainability guidelines from secondary fibre use to water saving.

Suzanne Blanchet, president and chief executive of Cascades Tissue Group, justified the logic behind the company’s decision to use ATMOS technology. She told TW: “We do believe in gradual innovation and when we realised that our previous experience with STT was limiting us to towel stock, we started to look for improving bath tissue quality. By this time the results of ATMOS South American operation were available and trials at Voith pilot plant were proven to be very positive.”

Suzanne Blanchet, president and chief executive of Cascades Tissue Group

It took almost a year after placing an order with Voith in October 2009 to production start-up in ATMOS mode. Cascades spent six weeks in 2010 developing products and training production personnel at Voith’s pilot plant in São Paulo.

Convention production mode on finished TM2 was achieved in September 2010 just 33 days after assembly work began. The Candiac mill started ATMOS operation in November 2010. The rebuilt TM2 swing machine with 3.45 m trim, 125 tpd capacity and 1,300 m/min speed represents the further development from the original South American operation.

Blanchet adds: “The North American consumer penchant for premium tissue creates demand for TAD-like quality. That is why Cascade’s TM2 operates in ATMOS mode for over 60% of its production, when compared with the Chilean operation which uses its swing machine in ATMOS mode only 25% of production time. We plan to increase the runtime for TM2, while also keeping our options open to market conditions.” She also presented samples of beige napkins as an example of changing consumer perception in Canada. “White tissue is still popular in North America. Cascades, however, has been developing consumer taste for high quality non-white tissue in Canada for the last 15 years. At present, from 15% to 20% of the Canadian napkin market is non-white tissue,” she says


Jean-David Tardif, Candiac mill manager

Jean-David Tardif, Candiac mill manager, said the success of the ATMOS concept comes from equipment and experience and also from Cascades’ own wet end proficiency in dealing with recovered fibre, water and chemical. He adds: “Our machine layout due to space constraints is different from CMPC’s operation, with our dewatering fabric belt drive built to the lower level. A two-level TM2 layout presented additional challenges for mill operators who were trained on the pilot machine in Brazil and presently are going through extensive training on service and changeover.”

One of the first jumbo rolls from the Atmos TM2

So far the results of Cascades’ ATMOS tissue output shows TAD quality for both products: kitchen towels with 100% secondary fibre and bath tissue with a blend of 60% minimum secondary fibre and eucalyptus virgin pulp. While towel and tissue product conditions in caliper, absorption, solids and energy consumption are mostly on target and equal to benchmark, the company is working hard to reduce swing downtime and increase machine speed.

Both Blanchet and Tardif envision the company’s future in recycled fibre and dedication to sustainability while responding to increasing demand for high grade tissue products.

Greg Grishchenko has more than 30 years of experience in tissue/disposable industry. A leading expert in disposable products, paper converting and packaging, he started his own independent consultancy in 2007 after retiring from Georgia- Pacific . He is available on : [email protected].