US mill avoids downtime with proactive ServicePort alert


After receiving an instant email alert, a US paper mill was able to quickly correct a problem and avoid unscheduled downtime

Ensure product quality

A paper mill in the southern US manufactures paper used for consumer items such as paper plates, food containers and beverage cups, so quality is very important. Mill personnel use leading-edge technology to ensure that all products are manufactured to specification. For years, the mill has employed ABB Quality Control Systems (QCS) to help operate their paper machines, and has worked closely with ABB to achieve optimum production and quality levels.

The mill also uses the ABB ServicePro Service Management System, a software and web-based tool that significantly increases management visibility into service and maintenance activities. With ServicePro, the mill ensures that proactive service activities are scheduled for increased operational understanding and productivity. ServicePro is used by ABB and the mill personnel to schedule and report maintenance activities, and to ensure fast access to parts information.

Using ABB’s QCS Performance Services, powered by ServicePort, the mill was able to detect potential issues early and correct them before they can compromise quality. With the instant data alerts provided by QCS Performance Service, the mill immediately learned of and mitigated a problem that could have cost the company $100,000 in lost production.

Customer challenge

  • Ensure quality for products that include food packaging
  • Accelerate problem-solving
  • Improve production uptime
  • Avoid costly downtime

Advanced Services and ServicePort

The southern U.S. mill invested in ABB’s QCS Performance Service powered by ServicePort for early detection of QCS performance issues.  

Automating production requires processing large amounts of data. ABB Advanced Services, such as the QCS Performance Service, are designed to use that data to identify variables that impede productivity, and provide recommendations to mitigate these variables quickly. Advanced Services are provided by experienced ABB service engineers, both on-site and remotely, through ABB ServicePort.

ServicePort is a secure, remote-enabled service delivery platform that facilitates the delivery of the QCS Performance Service as well as other ABB Advanced Services. Deployed at customer sites, ServicePort gives users high-frequency views of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help identify potential equipment and process problems.

The QCS Performance Service identifies, classifies and helps prioritize opportunities to improve product quality, control utilization, equipment health, and measurement and control. The service provides fast and accurate troubleshooting through real-time visualization and analysis of sensor stability, control utilization and process variability.

Users access information through three separate data views: View, which provides raw data for further analysis; Scan, which presents a summary of KPIs ranked by severity; and Track, which gives users the ability to set rules for KPIs and create customized displays of each occurrence that falls outside set thresholds. With Track, any KPI that tracks outside pre-determined parameters triggers an instant alert sent via email or text to customer or ABB service professionals.

Quickly analyzing data to detect failure trends

The ABB QCS at the mill in the southern US include 31 physical sensors on eight scanners, each with an average of 15 standardized variables per sensor. This means that there are 465 values updated every 30 minutes, for a total of 22,320 values a day. Although these updates contain the information necessary for identifying potential problems, the magnitude of this large outpouring of data makes it extremely difficult to quickly detect trends that indicate impending automation failure.

To meet stringent quality standards, mill mangers require that no paper produced at their operation can be shipped unless it had been measured using ABB QCS. However, the HemiPlus moisture sensors on the QCS at the mill operate in a very hot, challenging environment that causes them to degrade after a few years of use. As the sensors age, the filters develop buildup, and electronics become less sensitive, making reliable moisture readings increasingly difficult to obtain.

Understanding the importance of accurate moisture readings to the US mill’s operation, an on-site ABB service engineer used ServicePort’s Track data view to set parameters that would notify him immediately if a sensor exceeded these parameters and moisture measurement began to degrade. Before he left home one day, the engineer had an email notification alerting him that the threshold he established for a moisture sensor had been exceeded.

Arriving at the mill, the engineer promptly investigated the issue using data views provided by ServicePort. A large red bar in a Pareto chart on the ServicePort Scan user display confirmed that moisture gain limits had been exceeded. He then studied the raw data views in the View display, and the severity levels seen in the Scan data views, to verify the extent of the problem and understand what he had to do to avoid costly downtime. He used ABB’s ServicePro to ensure that the needed moisture sensor was in stock, and scheduled a time to change the sensor during a planned outage.


An emergency moisture sensor replacement would have meant costly lost production at the US mill. With the action taken by the ABB service engineer after he received an email alert via ServicePort, the mill was able to replace the moisture sensor cost-effectively during planned downtime. The mill avoided quality losses and unscheduled downtime that could have cost more than $100,000.

Main facts

Industry Pulp and Paper
Customer North American paper mill
  • The paper mill uses ABB's QCS Performance Service powered by ServicePort for early detection of QCS performance issues.
  • The mill also uses ABB's ServicePro Service Management System to schedule and report maintenance activities, and to ensure fast access to parts information.
  • The QCS Performance Service's Track feature sends an instant alert, if any Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is outside the pre-determined parameters.
  • Continuing confidence in the ability to achieve optimum uptime
  • Increased product quality
  • Fewer repair emergencies
  • Reduced costs

As sensors age and degrade, the reliable moisture readings so crucial to producing high-quality paper become increasingly difficult to obtain. ABB ServicePort data views can clearly show when equipment failure trends are increasing. The data view above (first graph) shows moisture gain measurement for a sensor at a US paper mill. The levels are satisfactory, but on the higher end of the acceptable range. A data view six months later (second graph) shows the rate that moisture gain is growing and indicates it is likely to reach a failure level in another six months.
Customers and ABB service professionals use the QCS Performance Service‘s Track feature to set Key Performance Indicator (KPI) parameters. Any KPI that tracks outside those pre-determined parameters triggers an instant alert. The large red bar in the Track data view shown above was a clear indication to an ABB service engineer at the US mill that the thresholds he previously set for moisture gain had been exceeded.
An ABB service engineer received an email alert (shown above) triggered when preset moisture gain thresholds were exceeded. Because he was alerted by this email, the engineer could act immediately to mitigate equipment failure, and the mill could replace the sensor cost-effectively during planned downtime.

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