Tissue World Magazine

Futura, PCMC, OMET, Fabio Perini, Maflex and MTorres talk to TWM about targeting their latest R&D efforts in response to customer demands. A TWM report.

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TWM/1: What new technical challenges are you facing from customers and how are you responding to their needs?
Giovacchino Giurlani, head of technology and FuturaLab, Futura: “We are very focused on Industry 4.0 or Smart Manufacturing and how it can support technical leadership in converting equipment and produce best integrated performance. We are not only looking at converting in isolation but at the mill of the future, where all processes will communicate with each other.

“It is not so much a question, however, of customers asking us to get better at big data analysis and to design lines which can respond automatically to that data. Rather, this is how we see the future. The challenge is to make it relevant and accessible to the tissue industry. “Collecting data is nothing new. Data which is fully traceable in terms of time and applicable across entire production chains, and which can trigger actions to optimise the process – this is where we are breaking new ground.

“The challenge is always the same – to produce a better roll more efficiently. We just believe that the way to achieve this depends not only on all the adjustments and refinements that are possible on a converting line, but on gathering data and using that in a smart way to create a self-adjusting line. Industry 4.0 seems like a big idea but in reality it is about the collective power of many small changes to affect significant improvements in Overall Equipment Effectiveness. It is a tool to ensure that we get the best out of our technical innovations.”

Sergio Casella, president, PCMC Italia: “A free-thinking approach is our answer to technical development. A few years ago, we started the Matrix concept, an upgradable system able to follow converter needs where the speed and number of cycles can be matched with the utmost flexibility according to the production request. PCMC has launched a multipurpose line: Amica Unica, the only line with DoubleGeometryTechnology, for consumer and industrial products. A free-thinking product line, it’s an all in one for three real products. The innovative winding nest allows the production of high quality consumer products and high quality industrial products, tight and soft windings, for a diameter product range from 90 to 350mm. In addition to these innovations, our top-of-the-range FORTE product is in continuous evolution, achieving a finished diameter product up to 240mm.”

Marco Calcagni, sales and marketing director, OMET: “For more than 50 years OMET has been leading the tissue converting market, which is now very fragmented: on one hand, there are big multinational companies looking for high-performance machinery and production efficiency; on the other hand, there are small companies focusing on specialisation and small runs for niche markets, looking for flexibility and cost saving. We provide the first-class market with high-efficiency fully automatic and remotely controlled solutions to guarantee maximum productivity. For the second category, we offer new flexible lines featuring digital technologies to cope with the need for short runs by providing the possibility to personalise the fold, the embossing pattern and the printed image in a quicker and easier way.”

Stefano Di Santo, CEO, Fabio Perini: “Toilet paper is tough to sell, not to produce. For this reason, our customers need to find new ways to promote their products and attain higher margins, rather than buying faster machines. With this goal in mind, Fabio Perini faces the challenge of today’s market through visible innovation on the finished product, meaning both the tissue rolls and the packaging.

“If innovation does not carry something visible and immediately recognisable by the consumer, then for us it is not true innovation. This is what we call ‘visibly more’. Constellation, launched in June 2015, represents the clearest and most technologically advanced example of this strategic approach. With 50 lines sold in five continents over the first 18 months, Constellation has deeply changed the way tissue rolls are wound, opening a new era for the worldwide industry.”

Simone Torrini, area sales manager for Latin America and Iberian Peninsula, Maflex: “Time, our customers ask us for more time to work and we are working to support them finding it. Having achieved top level goals in terms of technics, reliability and flexibility, we are actually focusing on reducing the downtime in changing products, as a way for our customers to gain more time. Maflex has been the first company to introduce the universal electronic clamp on our log saws. This technology allows savings of many minutes for every single product change. From that point, it has begun a continuous challenge to make every single Maflex machinery “smart”.

Joseph Gotshall, business development director – tissue, MTorres America: “Current challenges are to be able to utilise larger parent reels, at higher speeds, on a more fragile web with greater needs for precise tension control due to increasingly out of round reels and near perfect efficiency on splicing with minimal operator intervention for reel changes. We address these demands by constantly pushing our designs to handle the demands that the elite convertors will require two to three years from now. Automation is the key, and the technology that keeps MTorres exceeding our clients’ technical demand is 40 years of R&D investment into being the world leader in complex web handling.”

TWM/2: What latest automation features are improving productive efficiency? Do you have any recent case study examples?
Giurlani: “One of the most game-changing features of the Andromeda converting line is the multi-task smart crane, designed by Futura, which enables the automatic parent  reel handling system, embossing roll change and general maintenance. This offers considerable benefits in terms of safety, process runnability and continuity. “Automation features which tackle quality issues are also incredibly valuable in the quest of optimum Overall Equipment Effectiveness. As we know, bad quality can cause problems in many downstream processes. But if we can acquire all the data to show us when working conditions are aligned to the standards we set, and when they are not, we can go a long way to eliminating off-standard production.

“Holes are the perfect example. A camera on the pope reeler on the tissue machine records the size, location and timing of holes in the web. This enables us to know exactly when and where a hole will pass through a specific part of the converting line. We can analyse the effect of the hole and learn how to manage it. “By automatically slowing down the converting line for a window of time determined through recorded experience, we can avoid the far more serious disruption of a break, and even  reject a specific log or logs and thereby avoid quality issues further down the line. This is critical to our way of thinking: data triggers automatic action.”

Casella: “The competitive advantage lies within a comprehensive view, not limited to a single line. Interchangeable and upgradable systems to be shared in the entire plant for a sound investment, in order to save additional costs. This is the reason why PCMC has developed an intelligent system ARCO, Automatic Rolls Change Over, for the managing the rolls changeover from outside the protection guards, in a total safety condition for the operator. In addition to the two rolls already installed in the embosser, the system is equipped with a vertical warehouse, positioned downstream of the embosser, for the storage of three additional steel rolls, and thanks to an external carriage system you can add even more steel rolls and reduce the number of rolls required in a mill. The ARCO carriage system encourages proper maintenance and cleaning of the embossing rolls before the changeover, thus maintaining the line running, without adding any stops and positively changing the life of the complete mill.”

Calcagni: “Our latest innovation is the TV840 XP, a high-performance machine for the production of napkins with servo-motorised adjustment system and integrated visual controls, which have radically increased the efficiency of the line. “The first TV840 XP was recently installed at one of the biggest Italian converters which has showed great satisfaction for the productive results.”

Di Santo: “Fabio Perini is the only player in the industry capable of delivering truly integrated solutions of converting and packaging, and for this reason our customers can fully exploit their potential through the most efficient line management system available in the industry: All In One. “All In One is a revolutionary solution that allows a customer to maximise line efficiency and grant the full availability of the production chain instantly.

“Through a user-friendly interface, the speed of each individual machine in the line is optimised in real time and automatically, even during product, parent reel or poly change. Today the product portfolio of paper producers is constantly increasing, leading to a much more frequent product changeover in the line; All In One reduces downtime to the limit, maximising productivity in real time, even during the night shift where usually less skilled operators are available for sensitive line operations.

“For Customer Service, MIAC 2016 saw the unveiling of a blockbuster product that has quickly reached a global popularity: the Weareable helmet, which gives the opportunity to our technicians to make real time remote interventions on our lines, simply guiding our customers’ operators in a very intuitive, effective and hands- free way.”

Torrini: “We have been designing increased finished product specification ranges with our push-button/tool-less change overs. This allows our customers to save time when making large scale changeovers. This also allows the operators to change the machines over quickly, without the need for maintenance and changeover crews.”

Gotshall: “Increased splicing speeds and zero lost time for reel changes greatly increases the overall operating efficiency of a line. Through our recent automation projects we have collected data from numerous case studies as to how these efficiency increases are turned directly into profits. These line efficiencies along with reduced operating costs from less operator involvement and reduced web waste has been used to establish the algorithms that are bundled into www.mtorrespayback.com.”

TWM/3: How have the changing events of 2016 impacted your business and the global tissue converting industry generally?
Giurlani: “We’re not complacent, but 2016 represented Futura’s strongest 12-month period to date from a growth and market share point of view.”

Casella: “2016 was an important year for PCMC: we sold 24 lines, in October we inaugurated our new and bigger plants with a capability of 36 lines per year, and our customers have renewed their trust in us with repeated orders.”

Calcagni: “According to our experience, we did not notice any changing event able to drastically influence tissue market trends. We noticed an increasing interest coming from emerging markets and a strong desire of renewal and modernisation in traditional mature markets due to technology evolution propelled by the concept of Industry 4.0.”
Di Santo: “Today’s biggest challenge is represented by the Industry 4.0 revolution, which goes way beyond the tissue market borders. This is a true changeover for the industry, that we have decided to face with our vision, that we like to call “Digital Tissue”. “It contains for example the latest innovations such as All In One and Weareable: concrete products already available for tangible answers to converting, packaging and service needs.”

Torrini: “The global trend of tissue converting industry is generally improving. Our business at Maflex has being growing increasingly during last year. It was possible in part because of the general trend of the sector, but the biggest part of credits comes from the great job done by our R&D office and from all the staff.

“We note that every single region has its own trends, and so events happening in Brazil do not affect Japan as much as they affect Argentina. There is a global trend, but the market is constantly moving and customers keep their eyes open. When they buy a new converting line they are looking for something extremely flexible, they want something able to adapt to the market changing.”

Gotshall: “There has been a continued demand for more automation which has increased our orders. In an effort to stay ahead of market demands we have increased our production facilities and increased our capacity. We never want to have to turn away business so we are making every effort to grow ahead of the demands so that we can play a larger part in growing the global tissue industry.”

TWM/4: What new ways are you ensuring that the quality of cut is consistent?
Giurlani: “Trim minimisation and elimination is the key to maximising output and quality, as well as avoiding downstream problems caused by trim. With this in mind, Futura’s UTILITY cutting system, which keeps trip width down to 15mm and eliminates the trim from the process with 100 percent reliability, is very important. It also provides the best quality cut in the market, and the potential for one extra roll per log – that is a lot of extra tissue when aggregated over a year.

“When it comes to professional, or AfH, tissue, then Futura’s JANUS with its double-bevel, vertical cutting blade offers that vital combination of high throughput and quality. “Our latest innovation, which is available on Andromeda converting lines, enables operators to assess the sharpness of the roll cutting system blades and their bevel, which of course have a great impact on the efficiency of the process and the quality of the product. If we know the sharpness and bevel at any particular moment, we can determine its impact and use that knowledge to predict and therefore prevent problems.”

Casella: “The continuous control of the grinding wheel is the recent technology designed to improve the cutting phase. In the digital era, different systems interact and PCMC has installed sensors to a control unit in WI-FI mode, therefore without using any connection on the mechanical arm in order to increase the machine reliability and repeatability, checking the actual working time and reducing the maintenance interventions drastically.

Calcagni: “We developed a cutting system with belt knife for  napkins which allows for control of the speed of the cut itself. It can be used with material with top performances such as tissue, nonwoven, air-laid, etc. This cutting system is equipped with a knife cleaning system which avoids any kind of residue impurities during the cutting phase of napkin production.”

Di Santo: “We are convinced that every aspect of the process is crucial for the delivery of the best quality on the finished product; this means once again “visibly more”. We insure the best quality in the log cut through our patented log saw solution with double sharpening device. Operators’ safety is for us of paramount importance, especially in a potentially dangerous environment like a log saw blade. For this reason we have solutions that increase the level of safety and comfort in  the working areas.”

Torrini: “It’s really hard to improve the quality of cut for Maflex as today we are at the top level. In 2016, we improved our new Hesperia 4 Channels Log Saw on which we put a new universal electronic clamp. This technology permits to change the diameter by simply pressing a button. Customers don’t have to lose time in changing the clamps. Moreover, the new Hesperia 4C allows to cut logs diameter from 90mm up to 200mm. In many markets that has become the new standard.”

Gotshall: “Cutting requires a precise web and our tension control technology delivers the most consistent web surface in the industry. Therefore – cutting, embossing, calendaring, printing, perforating, rewinding or any other surface interaction can be performed with greater precision. Now since this question most likely eludes to cutting consistency of logs into finished rolls I will state that MTorres is researching how cutting technologies used in the carbon fibre and composite materials industries might soon be applied to the fragile webs of tissue and non-wovens. More coming on that soon.”

TWM/5: What forecasts do you have for new technical converting trends around the world in 2017 and beyond?
: “The market is not on the verge of revolution. There is a perfect roll for each market, but no such thing as a roll with universal appeal. Converting in 2017 and beyond will embrace advances in data capture but, above all, it will use that information to create self-regulating technology to make each market’s perfect roll with less waste and greater consistency.”

Casella: “2017 will be another crucial year for PCMC and for the launching of new technologies, but due to the high innovative level of our development we would rather not to answer this question further.”

Calcagni: “We think that 2017 is going to be a year of growth for the tissue and converting markets since we have been noticing an increasing request of new installations and new technologies. All companies are looking for innovative products, both in terms of machineries and final products.”

Di Santo: “We have identified the integrated solution supply as the best approach for the future while taking into account that Constellation is proving more and more to represent the new industry standard for converting. Industry 4.0 solutions are now available on the market, and more evolution will follow, especially for the possibility to customise smaller and smaller production lots in order to supply different supermarkets and different areas.

“This is the case of 360° Impact, that as a world premiere gives the chance to brand the six sides of a pack.”

Torrini: “It is not easy to have a global vision, which makes it difficult to give a global forecast. Consumers will use more paper every year. Many new small paper converting companies are appearing and they are entering a small but niche market. Probably some of them will become bigger and bigger during the next few years. Big groups are already monitoring that but I believe that there will be room for everyone. Every paper converting company will find its own place in the market.”

Gotshall: “Speed and size of reels will continue to increase. Webs will continue to debulk and become more fragile. We are handling webs of 7 grams per square metre which can appear to be more air than fibre. Machines are in demand that can do more precise work at higher speeds with greater consistency. This leads directly to increase industrial automation, which is our life’s works.

“Tissue converting clients are going to continue demanding greater efficiency and flexibility from their converting assets. MTorres is always addressing these diverse needs by designing modularity into our solutions while thinking forward about how these modules must be scaled in order to suit the customers’ future needs.”