Avoiding obsolescence: finding the right path for QCS upgrades

Step-wise approach to scanner and sensor upgrades can minimize downtime and budget impact

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Cost-effective lifecycle support and evolution is extremely important with Quality Control System (QCS) sensors and scanners given the mission criticality of the systems. If these go down, and obsolete parts can’t be found, you risk producing tonnes of out-of-spec paper, packaging or tissue while an emergency solution is found.

Let’s also consider the importance of using of new sensor and signal processing technologies for competitive advantages. New sensors using infrared technology not only remove sources of radiation –and the extra costs, work and risk associated with it— on certain low-weight grades but also provide thousands of more measurements per second when compared with older technology.

Finally, when upgrades are ready to be implemented, it’s imperative to minimize the impact to operations. Finding a way to minimize downtime on the machine while the improvement project is executed will provide the least impact to your profit potential.

Focus first on frames

Scanners often have the most difficult-to-find parts as well as hold mills back from taking advantage of new technologies that are designed for advanced computing. As such, starting with the frames quickly opens the mill up to new possibilities in quality.

For ABB customers, this is now even more critical in the case of Smart Platforms because its technology is now obsolete. Support for this architecture is becoming more difficult as time passes with access to electronic components and PC Boards from this era becoming more and more limited.

To help, ABB has created an evolution path to take your existing Smart Platform technology to the latest Network Platform technology without replacing the entire scanning platform. This cost-and-downtime efficient upgrade allows you to take advantage of new platform software, signal processing and sensor support features while bringing the complete scanner up to Network Platform lifecycle support. It also gives you access to the latest in diagnostic features that comes with Network Platform.

Take advantage of the latest infrared technology

With an upgraded frame, you can also take advantage of new sensors specifically designed for the advanced computational and signal processing capabilities of upgraded architecture.

For example, a Network Platform upgrade enables you to upgrade your old Hemi+ moisture sensor to the High-Performance Infrared Transmission (HPIR-T) moisture sensor. HPIR measurement provides the most precise tool available to measure moisture with the confidence needed to maximize control performance and to save both energy and fiber cost—while also removing need for water cooling.

Because the Hemi+ has reached the end of its lifecycle, long-term support for this technology can no longer be guaranteed. Upgrading to HPIR-T is not only necessary, but it will also provide a huge step change in measurement performance. Take precision, which depends heavily on the number of measurements made within each databox. HPIR sets a new standard for this precision by calculating measurements 5,000 times per second. The result is less measurement noise per databox. With HPIR’s highly precise moisture measurement, mill operators can confidently use CD control for faster start-ups and grade changes.

Faster color measurement with LED technology

Additional upgrade and/or advancement opportunity can be found with other modernized technology – such as lighting sources. For example, new sensors now use novel light emitting diode (LED) light sources, which have a life expectancy of at least two years. Previous generations of sensors used Xenon light, which were recommended to be replaced every three months—especially when measuring high white shades with fluorescence.

With fewer light bulb swaps, upgrading existing Smart Color sensors to the latest High-Performance Color (HPColor) sensor is quick, easy and requires no system changes once upgrades to Network Platform are complete. In fact, the new sensor was specifically designed for ease of upgrade by being plug-compatible with the Smart Color sensor as well as fully compatible with even older generation’s Smart Backing Tile Module.

While Smart Color is now in the classic support phase of its lifecycle, upgrading to HPColor will provide long term support for your color measurement as well as providing all the major benefits provided by the latest in color measurement technology. Mills with newer QCS systems also benefit from HPColor profiles available to the operator. 

HPColor incorporates LED technology to make color measurement faster and more reliable by using a virtually continuous LED light source and a high-speed spectrometer.  Both high speed UV included and UV excluded color measurements can be averaged continuously to deliver better measurement data. A compact modular design, with no moving parts in the measurement module, HPColor reduces maintenance, improves service access and reduces life cycle costs.

One step at a time

Wherever you are on your upgrade path, all the above options provide simple cost-effective ways to keep your quality control system up to date with the latest technologies without having to replace the complete system. ABB has an unmatched history of providing our customers with the most effective investment protection in the industry for their paper machine quality control systems.


Upgrade existing Network Platform to the latest electronics and Windows technology.

ABB now provides a simple and cost-effective upgrade to bring older Network platforms up to the latest standard in electronics and Windows software.


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