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How future-proofed equipment can boost paper, pulp and board manufacturing

Home Manufacturing & Processing Pulp & Paper How future-proofed equipment can boost paper, pulp and board manufacturing
by Darryl Macdougall

THE paper, pulp and board manufacturing industries are key economic contributors to the South African economy. Direct contributions are measured in gross domestic product (GDP) and trade earnings, where according to the Paper Manufacturers Association of South Africa (PAMASA), the country’s paper, pulp and board manufacturing industries are valued at around R28 billion.

And this value is potentially significantly more when we also consider the indirect and knock-on impact of socioeconomic benefits in job creation and local economic activities that can be tracked back to the industrial activity linked to farming, milling and manufacturing, for example.

In recent years, however, these industries have faced significant societal pressures – particularly surrounding concerns over the impact on the natural environment.

As a result, many businesses in these industries have undergone significant restructuring in terms of, but not limited to; focusing on their operations and cost management, industrial diversification in some cases, and exploring more circular economy thinking and approach to the products they produce to adapt to the evolving waste management legislative environment and growing market demand for recycled paper and tissue paper, for example.

As these businesses are undergoing restructuring, they should also consider advances in equipment critical to the manufacturing process that can bring immense value in improving the operational efficiency potential.

It is well understood that manufacturing paper is a resource-intensive process, even if it is 100% recycled material. Shredding wood, paper, and textiles to the right size, creating the pulp, and then pressing it into paper is a process that requires the right equipment, including pumps to move the slurry. Also, paper and wood pulp can be extremely abrasive to pumps, and the chemicals used in the bleaching process can be very corrosive as well.

To put this in context, a poorly designed pump system may lead to lags in production due to premature wear or failure of components in the processing production line – as this is not isolated to the pump itself – and can impact instrumentation, piping, valves and ancillary equipment too.

With this, there is also the risk of work-stoppage or excessive breakdowns, over-and-above routine planned maintenance. Any of these possible scenarios are guaranteed to hamper operational efficiencies and production outputs – not to mention potentially increase labour costs and inventory of spare parts – leading to operational expenses being driven up.

On the other hand, the right advanced and integrated pumping solution support operational efficiency objectives. As these solutions are fit-for-purpose, not only are they suitable for pumping sensitive, abrasive or high viscous fluids, but while doing so also bode added benefits in water and energy efficiency and savings – thereby supporting the businesses operational efficiency objectives too.

Navigating the technical obstacles of selecting the right pumping solutions for specific applications can be complex. Yet, the effectiveness of a manufacturing plant partially depends on the longevity of the equipment – where lower lifetime cycle costs of the equipment translate into higher efficiency and greater productiveness and cost savings for the customer in the long run.

  • Darryl Macdougall is Managing Director of Verder Pumps South Africa


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