When Braincube started at Oji Paper Piracicaba, it faced a great challenge: reduce paper production costs while still increasing their market share.
The plant’s sales were mostly based in Brazil and they needed to become more competitive to reach customers across South America. Anderson Meca, the Paper Machine and Finishing Area Operations Manager, carried out a prior analysis of the cost structure, which showed that the variability mainly arose from paper coating, the costly chemical product placed on the surface of paper.
In early 2015, at the beginning of the project, the Braincube team mapped out the plant’s entire production process: the two paper machines, the coaters, and the various cooking areas, including the connections between areas.
They identified the various data sources: primarily the OSIsoft PI System for high-frequency data and an ERP platform for low-frequency data. The team then defined the best way to collect, link, and time lag this data.
The level of integration of Braincube took place on the paper machines and the best-instrumented coaters.
For the first phase of the project, the Oji and Braincube teams decided to work on stabilizing chemical consumption in the paper machine. They created Statistical Process Control groups with 28 consumption variables and, for each one, the operational ranges of each product reference.
Braincube Live, the real-time dashboard application, was implemented in control rooms on dedicated screens and, in some cases, even directly on the machine control panels.
“The operators can’t miss it! ” says Lincoln Tsuruta, Braincube leader and Oji Paper process engineer. The monitoring of these key variables using Braincube Live in the control rooms and follow-up in the Braincube SPC reports immediately led to an over 10% reduction in consumption and greater stability of the paper’s characteristics.
By helping the operators to always run newly discovered standard settings, Braincube brought stability and significant savings.
The second implementation phase was to optimize these settings.
Lincoln and his team used Braincube to analyze the amount of chemical coating measured on the main references over the previous eight months. It revealed that only 1/3 complied with the target 5g/m2, the remaining 2/3 surpassed this, so created an unjustified cost.
Using Braincube, the team could analyze the production conditions of the compliant products. Within the 2450 variables involved in the process, Braincube found a combination of 4 parameters that made it possible to stay within target.
They decided to systematize this best practice, which became a rule that operators could follow up on their Braincube Live interface. From the very first days, it already showed a 5% reduction in chemical consumption.
“Braincube provides process engineers with powerful Big Data tools to analyze the connections between all the process variables, to immediately highlight the variables having an impact, and to create strong multivariable rules. This is a great benefit for process specialists helping them to make and implement the right decisions,” says Lincoln Tsuruta.
The challenge of special papers produced by Oji Paper is that they are usually very thin papers (40-60 g/m²) coated with a layer of special chemicals developed for each usage (thermal printing, carbonless, etc.). Checkout receipts and credit card receipts are the most common applications. The “formulations” are the “inks” deposited in thin layers on the paper.
They are applied in paper machine output for the base layer and then by successive passes in coaters for the additional layers. These inks alone, whose composition is a trade secret, account for 16% of the cost of the finished product. In order to limit the amount of coating applied while ensuring the quality of the finished product, the main issue is maintaining stability throughout the production process.