Reliable process from wood to paper 

Condition Monitoring System protects precious mechanics at Estonian Cell

In northern Estonia, Estonian Cell operates the only pulp mill in the country that uses aspen as the raw material for its production. To minimize downtime in the production line and reduce service and maintenance costs, the company opted for a reliable condition monitoring system to continuously monitor critical mechanical components. 

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AS Estonian Cell

A production volume of 170,000 tons of pulp per year, an export quota of 100 percent, and production that’s very environmentally friendly: That’s what sets Estonian Cell apart. The company, which belongs to the Austrian Heinzel Group, is based in northern Estonia and has a workforce of 94 employees. Another 500 employees work in the product value chain.

Estonian Cell’s pulp mill began operations in 2006 and to date it’s the second-largest investment in Estonian industry. The company produces high-quality pulp referred to as bleached chemi-thermo mechanical pulp (BCTMP), which is specifically tailored to the requirements of the company’s customers and is processed into a wide variety of paper products, including printing and specialty papers. 

 

What makes Estonian Cell’s pulp special is that it consists mainly of wood from local aspen trees (Quaking Aspen). This low-grade wood was rarely used in the past and was left in the forests to rot. With the commissioning of Estonia’s only aspen pulp mill, Estonian Cell now relies almost exclusively on Quaking Aspen as a raw material instead of using top-quality timber.

The result is high-quality pulp, a very environmentally friendly production, and optimal efficiency.  

Optimized predictive maintenance

Estonian Cell exports 100 percent of its pulp, approximately 75 percent of which goes to European customers and 25 percent to Asian customers.

To tailor production as flexibly as possible to market requirements, guarantee a reliable supply of pulp to its customers at all times, and ensure the highly efficient utilization of its production lines around the clock, Estonian Cell started searching for a powerful condition monitoring tool for optimizing predictive maintenance.

The system had to automatically monitor sensor data from critical system components and give the maintenance team an early warning in the event of any deviations in their status.  

At Siemens, Estonian Cell found what it was looking for.

The two companies have enjoyed a successful and longstanding collaboration: The Estonian company has been using Siemens products for many years, including SIMATIC PCS 7 as the higher-level process control system for pulp production, SIPAPER for process automation, and the SIMATIC WinCC process visualization system for water treatment and in-house biogas production.

Now the SIPLUS CMS1200 condition monitoring system with the SM1281 module and a SIMATIC S7-1200 controller will provide continuous condition monitoring of important mechanical components. 

Automatic instead of manual checks  

Siiri Lahe, CFO at Estonian Cell, had a clear picture of what the new solution should achieve in terms of improving predictive maintenance:

 

“Our goal was to reduce the downtime of our BCTMP production line and our costs due to defective system components. We wanted to achieve this with the help continuous monitoring of the system states and more efficient data analysis.” 

 

For Estonian Cell, this meant the following:

The manual or visual checks of various critical parameters like vibration and temperature that were previously conducted on the production lines at irregular intervals had to be replaced by a more efficient and reliable solution.  

As the first step, the SIPLUS CMS1200 condition monitoring system was implemented, and temperature and vibration sensors were installed on selected motors and other key system components.


Sergei Hramtsov, Automatics Manager at Estonian Cell, explains the benefits offered by the new sensors:

“Thanks to continuous monitoring, these sensors supply us with extensive detailed data about the performance of the production line. SIPLUS CMS1200 automatically conducts an extended analysis of the sensor data and issues early warnings to the maintenance personnel if there are deviations from the norm.”

 

The greatest benefit: This solution enables Estonian Cell to better organize necessary maintenance measures in advance, which prevents unscheduled downtime.  

One system, many benefits

Continuous monitoring and more efficient data analysis for predictive maintenance have helped reduce the service and maintenance costs at Estonian Cell. In addition, the company benefits from greater plant availability, because potential failures are detected in advance and can be avoided. Since its installation, the condition monitoring system has already detected significant deviations in a motor based on the vibration signals. Thanks to a speedy intervention, the company prevented catastrophic damage to the motor.

These initial results with SIPLUS CMS1200 have – figuratively speaking – saved the life of this motor. That alone means that our investment in the condition monitoring system has already paid for itself
Olev Kaarlõp, Maintenance Manager