Bracell, leader in paper pulp, believes in the importance of preventive maintenance

Proactive service approach for instrumentation helps the Brazilian mill reduce unplanned downtime while ensuring higher productivity and quality.

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Bracell, a leading company in the production of soluble cellulose, believes in a preventive maintenance strategy that includes instrumentation at their Camaçari mill, located in Bahia, Brazil. Case in point is the 13 years of service that ABB has been providing for the KPM KC5 Rotating Consistency Transmitters that were first installed in 2008.

Engistrel Engematic, an ABB partner, was responsible for all the commissioning and start-up of 14 KPM analyzers.  “At the time, we supported the entire project and always kept these analyzers operating well,” detailed Franklin Nardini, technician consultant at Engistrel Engematic. “Bracell's plant in Camaçari is also where we have the largest installed base of these products in both Brazil and in all of South America.”

“The preventive maintenance of ABB's KPM KC5 consistency analyzers is of great importance; this brings great reliability to the process and to the area and control operators,” said Hugo Santana, technician for Bracell.

This type of service ensures higher sturdiness and reliability of the equipment and enables customers to achieve savings and excellent results in the production of their final products. For reference, the typical product lifecycle is 10 years and after 13, the KPM KC5 sensors are still going strong.


“The maintenance cost is relatively low compared to the gains obtained with a reliable measurement of consistency from the outlet of the digesters, fiber line, bleaching through drying. This process variable is one of the most important in a pulp plant,” added Thiago Santos, technician for Bracell.

These services have been performed at Bracell’s mill face-to-face every year, since 2008, except in 2020 when the service had to be done remotely due to the pandemic.


Benefits of preventive maintenance

The lack of maintenance at key points in the pulp and paper process and machinery is responsible for the majority of unplanned downtime.  When a consistency transmitter stops working or is improperly calibrated, it has significant impact on the control loop performance, availability and ultimately the cost of goods produced.

Preventive maintenance can be performed in many ways, such as simple cleaning of the equipment, changing mechanical seals and rubber gaskets, and more. It’s important to replace parts that are more exposed to wear every 1-3 years to increase the longevity of the overall instrument as well as having a  well-trained team to perform preventative checks frequently. This ensures that production and quality is unlikely to be hampered by potential failures.

“The customer invests in preventive maintenance because of a future return, such as not shutting down the equipment and production line. In a pulp mill, one of the most important variables is consistency, which the KC5 analyzes,”  Nardini explained. “And this is important because maintenance avoids other costs and keeps its process operational. Bracell is a customer who thinks about yesterday, today and tomorrow, which is excellent.”

Preventive maintenance is also important for business revenue. “Instead of having to change many pieces of equipment and machinery, the customer keeps everything running with only occasional repairs. This significantly reduces costs,” said Nardini. “A piece of equipment that is more than ten years old is usually considered scrapped. But as we always carry out these preventive maintenances at Bracell, we ensure that they are able to operate as if they were new.” 

In addition to preventive maintenance, the service agreement also covers other areas to help extend the useful life of the equipment including: availability of spare parts for prompt delivery, training so that the customer has autonomy to solve potential problems, and assistance from the local team for additional support and repairs as needed.

“Our analytics team was trained by the experts in Brazil. Given the large number of analyzers we have in the plant (14), this brought us a lot of confidence in continuing to acquire ABB’s KPM sensors. Today we are fully autonomous to carry out these periodic reviews, while receiving constant support from ABB technical support, especially with our annual shutdowns,” highlighted Santana and Santos.

"The preventive maintenance of ABB's KPM KC5 consistency analyzers is of great importance; this brings great reliability to the process and to the area and control operators.”

Trust key in relationship with the customer

The result with preventive maintenance would not be possible if the relationship between ABB and Bracell was not solid. After all, the customer listened and followed the guidelines for repairs.

“They have always accepted our recommendations to change the most important parts every 2 or 3 years. They are not required to perform this maintenance, but strictly follow the annual inspection of these analyzers. This survey changes from place of installation to installation (Tag´s), but even if some part lasts longer, every year we do this inspection together”, says Franklin.

The support provided by ABB comes with a large structure and planning, which derive from a global expertise, and fit to the needs of different industries and customers. Working together with Bracell proves the importance of preventive maintenance and how effective it can be by reducing costs and increasing the companies' productivity. With this long-term thinking, any one-time investment becomes a long-lasting one and the results can be seen with the longevity of the sensors implemented in this customer.


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