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Integration boosts quality and productivity, too

Sept. 30, 2015
Two papermakers demonstrate the value of quality information integrated in real time
About the author
Dave Perkon is technical editor for Control Design. He has worked with a wide variety of fortune 500 companies in the medical, semiconductor, automotive, defense and solar industries.

"Integration is the key to quality," began Bob Nelson, plant IT manager at papermaker Appvion, in his Minds + Machines 2015 presentation today in San Francisco. "We make better paper because of it."

Data is connected in real-time from the company's J.D. Edwards ERP system, through its GE Proficy quality management software, its OSIsoft PI process historian and plant-floor automation and inspection systems. "None of the information is keyed in," Nelson noted. "It's all automatic and it's all integrated."

But Appvion's quality management system wasn't always so seamless. Indeed, a customer with a real-time machine vision system had been finding defects that Appvion had missed, Nelson said. "We inspected only the end of the roll, but the customer could see the defects anywhere in the roll. To up our game, we purchased a Procemex web inspection system and integrated it into our quality system."

"Integration is the key to quality. We make better paper because of it." Appvion's Bob Nelson discussed the central role that GE Proficy software plays in maintaining the company's quality standards.

The inspection system now detects pin holes, streaks, insects and other defects in real-time. "It was a large amount of data, but we can now keep all the quality information for a particular roll in one location," Nelson said.

"Now we have more than a quality system," Nelson continued. "It is a quality assurance and product disposition system." For example, the integrated system also facilitates regulatory compliance, such as volatile chemicals reporting. "We use product summarization and web reporting, and Proficy is the integrator piece. It pretty much integrates all the systems that run the plant."

Tissue at issue

At Kimberly-Clark, a manual quality system had been used back in the 1990s to monitor the company's football field-sized machines that manufacture enormous rolls of toilet paper. "Samples were manually taken, manually plotted on the wall and manually compared to control charts," said Mark Marek, IT business partner. "Adding new equipment provided the opportunity to expand and automate the quality systems in the plant. GE Proficy now works across all our lines for manual and automated tests."

"The whole definition of quality is continually adapted depending on our customer," Marek noted. "We work with marketing to continuously improve our product. It's always changing—it's never static. And with access to actionable data, we make adjustments on the fly. We can stop the production if necessary and change the process as needed to make good product."

"We can also 'run to quality' knowing that the roll will successfully meet the quality parameters of one of our downstream converting lines," Marek said. "We have the data of a golden roll, we know the specifications needed to make a quality product, and we know we are meeting those specifications."

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