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ABB helps the world’s most energy-efficient pulp mill generate twice as much power as it consumes

Metsä Group’s bioproducts mill is the forest industry’s largest-ever investment in Finland. To source more than 1,000 motors for the plant, the company turned to ABB for its excellent project know-how, broad product portfolio and strong local support.

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The mill built in Äänekoski, central Finland, is called a bioproducts mill because of its focus to increase their portfolio with new bioproducts, generate excess bioenergy and use no fossil fuels.

With a price tag of 1.2 billion euros, this is the Finnish forest industry’s largest-ever investment, with an annual capacity of 1.3 million tons. Besides pulp, it produces other bioproducts such as tall oil, turpentine, lignin products, biogas, wood-based fuel and bioelectricity. Without using any fossil fuels, it will generate nearly two and a half times as much electricity as it needs – helping to raise the country’s renewable energy share by 2 percentage points.

ABB's pioneering technology solutions support the mill to help maximize its bioenergy production. Using over 1,000 of the most advanced energy-efficient motors and state-of-the-art power systems, the mill is designed to produce 1.8 terawatt-hours of energy annually, representing 2.5 percent of the electricity produced in Finland today.

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Driving efficiency goals with ABB Solutions

In 2016, ABB supplied the Metsä Group’s bioproducts mill in Äänekoski in Central Finland with a comprehensive electrification solution including the mill’s entire electrical power distribution system and process electrification.

“We have long-term experience of good cooperation with ABB. A broad product portfolio, excellent project know-how and the high domestic share of the deliveries were significant factors in our choice,” said Metsä Fibre Bioproduct Mill Project Director Timo Merikallio.

Metsä Fibre and ABB also have a service agreement in place to connect the considerable number of the supplied devices via ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations. This service delivery method enables remote monitoring of functionality and availability of the electrical devices and electrical systems and allows real-time collaboration between Metsä Fibre and ABB to achieve the highest possible availability and performance.

“This gives us an at-a-glance overview of the status of all ABB electrical devices connected to the system. We can see what level of stress the frequency converters are under, and can monitor their condition and react to deviations proactively,” said Botnia Mill Service’s Ossi Puromäki, who is responsible for the bioproducts mill’s lifecycle contracts.


 
 

Ossi Puromäki, Botnia Mill Service
“Monitoring helps us to do maintenance on the right device at the right time, instead of simply servicing all devices at predefined intervals. This will optimize both costs and quality of upkeep.”

Reliability ensured by local and global expertise

Long-term reliability is a must at the mill. For instance, a frequency converter failure is likely to cause a break in production and a big monetary loss.

“A mill of this size runs continuously at full capacity until the annual service shutdown,” said Jorma Näsinkoski, sales manager, ABB. “The tendency is now that stops are being made every year and a half, or even closer to every two years. The rest of the time, the equipment and systems must run at full capacity without failures.”

It’s essential that if service is required for the drives, it can be done without disturbing the operation of the drive or can be scheduled during the mill’s service shutdown.

“Our mill’s most important performance indicator is its availability rate, which we target to maintain at 98 percent and above on an annual rate. Maintenance plays a critical role in ensuring this high level of performance,” said Timo Merikallio, project director for the mill. ”At the same time, we simply don’t have all expertise at the mill. Therefore, maintenance based on cooperation with trusted partners is key for us.”

The electrical power distribution system at the mill includes 650 frequency converters alone. Condition monitoring is facilitated by extensive device-specific alarms and through the ABB Ability(TM) connection; ABB experts can provide instant support in tackling problems. Furthermore, analyzing the data collected from electrical systems and devices for its predictive value also enhances reliability over the long-term.

“Monitoring helps us to do maintenance on the right device at the right time, instead of simply servicing all devices at predefined intervals. This will optimize both costs and quality of upkeep,” says Puromäki.

The customer feedback has been positive, underscoring ABB’s expertise and ability to deliver where others could not. For example, the customer indicated that it is extremely important to have ABB’s strong local support readily available in central Finland, with quick response in the Finnish language. This was something that differentiated ABB from the competition.

“I asked the customer why they bought from ABB,” Näsinkoski said. “The answer was clear and did not refer to any technical feature or performance of the motors or drives. The reason was ABB people’s broad know-how.”

About ABB Collaborative Operations

ABB Ability™ Collaborative Operations connects services that leverage the availability and transparency of data from the Ability platform into a data ecosystem. By connecting ABB and customer experts to actionable data, advanced analytics tools and predictive monitoring in a collaborative environment, advanced automation solutions can be implemented and optimized. Problems can also be quickly diagnosed and corrective actions implemented, with continuous improvement efforts prioritized.

Timo Merikallio, Metsä fibre bioproducts mill project director
“We have long-term experience of good cooperation with ABB. A broad product portfolio, excellent project know-how and the high domestic share of the deliveries were significant factors in our choice."

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