An update from our Head of Product Quality
Annica Larsson Ahlstedt took up the newly-created position of Head of Product Quality at Södra Cell in 2021. It’s been a busy time: Optimising quality and consistency at all three of Södra’s pulp mills is a complex role in itself, but the supply chain challenges and disruption of the past year coupled with spiralling inflation have certainly not made it easier.
Nevertheless, Södra is determined to invest for the long term and is looking at resource efficiency in both its own operations and across the value chain. “Our pulp mills are no exception. It’s essential that we maintain a competitive edge by continually investing in state-of-the-art technology and resource efficiency,” Ahlstedt says.
“We recently placed an order for four PulpEye analyzers for online quality inspection on all four pulp lines at our three mills (the largest order ever signed by PulpEye). A staggered installation will take place, from April to September when the mills have their regular maintenance stops. To ensure a smooth transition to the new equipment, the mills will be running the new equipment in parallel with existing equipment for a couple of weeks in the beginning.
These new fibre testers, among the best in their field, will take continual readings in real time of fibre properties such as dimensions, kinks, fibre form and coarseness, building a picture of how the fibres react and perform in different situations.
Mörrum will also receive a patented module to measure fibre wall thickness.
“They will take 10 years off the age of our equipment, enabling us to build detailed pictures and predictions of our pulps’ properties and performance for so we can help our customers optimise their specific applications,” she continues. The new equipment will allow us to produce pulp with even greater consistency when it comes to quality. Customers may notice some deviation in the new technical specification sheets (coming soon) but this is not a reflection upon quality, quite the opposite - it will be due to the fact that the new equipment measures and reports property values in a different way. More detailed information will be sent out closer to the startup day.
Along with quality optimisation, Ahlstedt counts resource efficiency and sustainability among her top priorities, in line with the entire Södra Group strategy. Both of these factors have influenced Södra’s decision to adjust the brightness of all its fully-bleached pulps down by 0.5% ISO.
“All partners in the supply chain are now attempting to optimise their resource efficiency, both in the face of escalating input costs and in the interests of the environment, and we are no exception. We realised that we offer among the highest brightness pulps on the market and this small reduction in our brightness levels makes us more robust in terms of cost efficiency but is also in line with our strategy to offer the most sustainable pulps that we can. Using less bleaching chemicals can have a positive impact on strength properties too, which will be a bonus for some customers. We all need to take every step that we can towards resource efficiency and careful use of the planet’s resources, so this move makes sense on several fronts.”
Another quality project that is on-going at Södra´s mills is a project aiming to introduce model-based process control. So far the results from the project look promising. Ahlstedt: “It’s early days but the signs are really good: This investment should lead to even more consistent pulp quality for our customers over time."
Head of Pulp Quality Phone: +46 454 59542