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How the Right SCRs Bring Greater Automation to the Paper and Pulp Industry – A Use Case

Posted June 12, 2019 by Robb Weeks

Advanced Energy had the good fortune to present this year at Rockwell Automation TechED™.  This event offers the best in industrial automation education and training experiences.  Sometimes, the best way to learn is through example. That’s exactly what I had in mind as I developed my presentation for Rockwell Automation TechEd 2019, which was held June 2-7 in Orlando, Florida.

As a fortuitous stroke of luck, I was able to speak during one of the many breakout sessions, which gave me the opportunity to describe how AE’s SCR Power Controllers – specifically our Thyro Power Control series – can help pulp and paper enterprises modernize their processes. Few of the industries that we provide power solutions to have quite the same legacy as pulp and paper. Most paper machines in production today are 20+ years old and in desperate need of upgrading.  And it’s notable how digitization and consumer behavior have affected the industry: there’s been a steady decline in the demand for graphic paper, used for newspapers and writing paper, but steady growth in demand for corrugated paper, spurred to a large degree by the rise in ecommerce-driven shipping. To keep pace with changing market demand’s and achieve today’s production performance goals, paper machines that have been churning out a variety of products for 20 years need to be transformed by upgrading the existing controls architecture and eliminating expensive antiquated, discontinued products.

Anatomy of a Use Case

Precision electric heat control is critical to the Moisture Profile Control System when removing moisture from the moving web prior to the web entering the final reel stand. One paper manufacturer needed a new approach to their moisture profile control system as the SCRs used in the existing system were antiquated, discontinued and extremely expensive to replace.  In addition, they had the strategic goal of converting all sections of the paper machine to Ethernet/IP to meet their Manufacturing Executing System (MES) needs. They chose to upgrade the existing Rockwell Automation SLC™ 500 PLC used to interface with the existing Distributed Control System (DCS) with a CompactLogix™ processor thus facilitating the advanced networking capability (EIP) while maintaining the discrete sequencing needs of the process.

In addition to the technical challenge of ensuring that the new SCRs would be a “plug-n-play” intelligent add-on (not a distinctly separate part of the system), implementation needed to fit their budget and incur minimal downtime.

Although the requirements of this application are specific to paper production, those very familiar goals – cutting TCO, minimizing production disruption and extending the value of assets – are as important to the value proposition in this industry as they are for other heat-treat applications such as autoclaves, ceramics, extrusion and metal injection molding, and even in the aerospace industry.

The paper company chose Advanced Energy’s Thyro-AX® SRC power controllers because of the architectural capabilities of the product, i.e., the Thryo-AX is an architectural solution product versus a component product. No hardwiring was required between the CompactLogix rack and the Thryo-AX units.  This saved on hardware and labor costs and reduced installation time. The units were fully controlled via the Ethernet/IP network. Turns out, it’s less expensive to shift to AE’s SRCs than to replace the old SCR units! Using Advanced Energy’s EIP communications module, the multiple Thyro-AX SCRs are integrated into the CompactLogix™ processor™ via the Add-On-Profile jointly developed by Advanced Energy and Rockwell Automation.  This networked approach enables real-time control, data transfer, system monitoring and analytical information to be developed. From the user’s point of view, AE’s products are an integral part of the overall system.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that the modernized system increases productivity, saves energy and requires less maintenance. This project was conceived based on the proper technology fit.  Advanced Energy’s networked SCR’s along with Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture® allowed this customer to modernize their system and execute the project on-time, on-budget, to specification.  A WIN-WIN for everyone!

Partners in Precision

If you know Rockwell Automation history, you know they have built a reputation for reliability, control and service. We’re committed to those same high standards, which is essential to be an Encompass Partner.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s Rockwell Automation TechED, and hope you’ve learned a little more about how we can help you modernize your process, in pulp and paper as well as many other industries.


Robb Weeks

Advanced Energy
A veteran of the USAF, Robb serves as AE's field application engineer for our thermal product line. He brings over 30 years of industrial automation experience and has a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering from Auburn University.
More posts by Robb Weeks

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