R&D the heart of industry-leading Quality Control Systems

The origin of ABB Quality Control Systems dates back to 1951. That’s when our predecessor Industrial Nucleonics developed the first basis weight measurement that could be used on an actual paper machine. Prior to that, quality inspection was digital or relied on lab measurements on the finished product.

This inspired tons of development opportunities, including additional measurement types (like moisture content and thickness) that could be paired with a control strategy, enabling better quality and faster grade changes. When ABB acquired AccuRay (who Industrial Nucleonics eventually became), we were set up to embrace a pioneering spirit that helped change the future  of papermaking.


Industrial Nucleonics' Sensor Development Lab, who later became AccuRay, acquired by ABB. 


Article by William Dannelly, Global Product Line Manager at ABB Pulp and Paper.


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Creating an R&D department anticipating the needs of papermakers

While the two most important paper properties are typically weight and moisture, there are a plethora of other measurements needed to analyze and control the end-product quality. That means R&D is tasked with making measurements easily done in the paper testing lab into an automated, online measurement system that is non-destructive and makes minimal contact with the paper web as it speeds through the machine at speeds exceeding 100 km/hr.

As such, a variety of different types of physics are utilized by our Physicists and Engineers to come up with the best solution, including:

  • Using the energy dissipated by radioactive isotopes to measure the mass of the sheet
  • Creating X-Rays to measure the amount of inorganic filler in a sheet
  • Microwaves are good at measuring moisture in very heavy sheets
  • Lasers provide high energy beams to measure surface properties like the orientation of the fibers in the sheet.
  • Using UV Light is a great way to measure the amount of moisture in the sheet.

Our R&D team represent experts across a variety of fields and disciplines to be able to match the best approach to the measurement need. Recently, ABB invested in a new R&D center in Dundalk, Ireland. It is a privilege to bring state-of-the-art facilities to our experts and inspire the next generation of industry-leading quality control products.


QCS team members celebrate the opening of ABB's new R&D Centre in Dundalk, Ireland.

Our approach to R&D is designed to maintain technology leadership and push boundaries on what is possible with our offering. That can only be accomplished by a pioneering approach to R&D coupled with strong product management, both of which I’m proud to say have been bread-and-butter to ABB for decades.

This new Center represents the next decade+ of continued growth and expansion as we take our QCS to new levels. The world of IoT and the power of embedded digital system present new opportunities to improve our customers processes by reducing cost, energy and improving quality.

A history of firsts

ABB has been at the center of product innovation since its inception and has continued to contribute to the evolution of sensors. Here’s a look at some developments:

  • First QCS to be integrated with a DCS (ABB Master)
  • First advanced color control to automatically adjust to the process
  • First Infrared Moisture Sensor, bringing speed to one of the most important measurements and thus increasing confidence to raise moisture targets and save money
  • First Fiber Orientation Sensor, providing the ability to understand the behavior or the end product and predict runnability issues
  • First Optical Caliper Sensor to measure thickness with light and not touch the sheet
  • The list goes on! 




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