Asaleo Care is a leading personal care and hygiene company that manufactures, markets, distributes and sells essential everyday consumer products across the Feminine Care, Incontinence Care, Baby Care, Consumer Tissue and Professional Hygiene product categories.
The company’s products include Purex, Sorbent, Handee and Tork and are used daily in households and businesses across Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and a number of countries in the Pacific. Asaleo Care has eleven manufacturing and distribution facilities throughout Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.
Asaleo Care is committed to introducing the latest technologies to their manufacturing plants to continue to produce quality products and meet evolving safety standards.
The manufacturing plant in Kawerau, New Zealand was established in 1955 and to this day is still the only tissue base paper manufacturer in New Zealand. To address obsolescence issues, Asaleo Care called on Rockwell Automation to design, manufacture and commission a control and drive upgrade to their tissue machine that would also incorporate the latest safety technologies.
Asaleo Care has been manufacturing tissue related products since 1952 and is committed to meeting customers’ needs. The manufacturing plant in New Zealand produces 50,000 tonnes of tissue related products annually.
To maintain their niche in the midst of intense competitive pressure from imported products, the company decided to upgrade the control and drive system of their tissue machine to incorporate the latest technologies while continuing to meet current safety standards.
According to Paul Stevenson, electrical engineer at Asaleo Care, “We must stay competitive in order to remain in business over the long term and that’s a key reason for the upgrade.”
The tissue paper making process at Asaleo Care starts with responsibly sourced pulp. The pulp entering the Kawerau site carries a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This pulp is blended to slurry, formed pressed, creped and dried. The company is the only known tissue manufacturer that uses geothermal steam, a renewable energy source at Kawerau, for drying the tissue.
Drive technology has advanced in leaps and bounds providing greater flexibility, productivity and ease of use. The existing drive system at the Kawerau plant was an analogue, direct current system, requiring periodic maintenance and being 30 years old, was also facing obsolescence.
“Over the years we became familiar with the processes required to maintain the system but we had to replace the brushes quite a lot. One of the things to bear in mind is the risk profile, if it gets to the point that its breaking down every week we couldn’t afford the risk of the machine being down for weeks while we are waiting on parts,” said Stevenson.
By moving to an AC drive system, maintenance requirements were reduced. The system was designed to take into account various factors relating to AC drives system such as excessive electrical noise and motor circulating current. The new system was also designed for integrated safety control using Allen-Bradley® GuardLogix® with safe speed monitoring and safety gates.
The upgrade included new motors and eight new Allen-Bradley PowerFlex® drives for the tissue machine line. The Active Front End (AFE) capability provided regenerative braking for energy savings as well providing Harmonic mitigation for all the common bus line drives. By placing two AFE’s in parallel, the DC bus capacity reached 2470 Amps, providing power for all the tissue machine’s common bus drive system.
According to Liam Hayes, project manager at Rockwell Automation, “We leveraged our application knowledge to engineer a solution that incorporates the latest technologies. The drives also included Safe Speed Monitoring allowing the operators safe access to the machine for maintenance purposes.”
High Speed trending provides accurate information about the drive system and to assist with fault finding by picking up any process changes that may require resolution. PanelView™ Graphic Terminals display application status information graphically for the drive and control systems.
“We are positioning ourselves with this upgrade so we can improve speed and increase productivity. The drives have always posed a limitation. We were looking to future proof the drives and sizing was an important aspect,” said Roy Ormiston, Paper Machine Operations Manager at Asaleo Care.
The entire solution was engineered, manufactured and delivered from the Lane Cove Assembly Centre in Sydney, Australia. The Rockwell Automation Global Solutions team have numerous software standards that have been developed over the years to reduce risk by providing the capability for these machines to be configured correctly the first time.
“To keep downtime to a minimum during commissioning, a full Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) was conducted at Lane Cove, which allowed us to test the equipment prior to installation. The FAT provided the opportunity to get a lot of the ‘leg work’ done, with the exception of the encoders, so we were confident that commissioning would be hassle free,” said Project Manager Paul Kirsopp.
“These machines are not designed to stop and the process does not allow for it in terms of our supply channel so time is always a limitation. We had to keep downtime to a minimum and took advantage of the two week shutdown to complete some additional work at the site,” he said.
Kirsopp added that, “the cooperative approach by everyone involved in the project allowed for ahead of schedule delivery despite the challenges of working alongside two other major upgrades at the plant.”
As a result of the upgrade diagnostic information is more readily available and the level of support to be able to access, repair and maintain the system is improved. The machine is more reliable and has advanced capabilities for guarding and productivity gains.
Kirsopp explained that “Global Solutions was more than just a drive system specialist, with specific experience in tissue machines and paper machines they have an in depth understanding of the entire machine and how to engineer the drives to meet the specific application requirements.”
“The system does not require an enormous amount of technical input and with improved reliability as the primary outcome, the productivity will start coming when we start increasing the speed. In addition, the machine is so much quieter that we had to check that it was still running at times. We are extremely happy with the outcome and the relationship established with the Global Solutions team,” he said.
Allen-Bradley, GuardLogix, PanelView, PowerFlex, and Rockwell Software are trademarks of Rockwell Automation, Inc.