“It all begins with the raw material,” says Tuomo Niemi. “Northern softwood is a superb choice for tissue paper in general. Its high strength is of huge importance in the case of tissue, as the paper is so thin, with a very low basis weight.”
Strength in numbers
Metsä Fibre has recently been studying the effect of the fibre number of its tissue-grade pulps, and Niemi is keen to share the results.
“When you produce low-basis-weight paper like tissue, the fibre number becomes more important than in the case of printing paper or board, where you have thicker paper and more fibres. With thin structures, the fibre number is an important point to consider.”
Niemi points out that the fibre number can be used in conjunction with the yield figures expressed in Botnia FOX – Metsä Fibre’s online quality control tool for pulp, which enhances efficiency throughout the pulp manufacturing value chain. Together, these attributes guarantee performance in both paper machines and converting lines beyond that of competitors’ pulps.
“These are important characteristics for any paper maker,” he explains, “but they particularly support tissue makers with the challenges specific to their products.”
What consumers want
Another topic never from the agenda in tissue making is sustainability. Niemi sees the introduction of Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill at Äänekoski as a major advantage in supporting tissue producers. With consumers looking to tissue products with a keen eye for sustainability credentials as well as a general perception of their environmental friendliness, the new facility offers a number of benefits.
Tuomo Niemi, Technical Sales Manager at Metsä Fibre
“The new mill will be fossil-fuel free,” explains Niemi. “When making tissue products such as toilet tissue, kitchen towels and facial tissues, there is a certain ecological image to be sustained. The bioproduct mill’s high energy efficiency, low emissions and fossil-fuel-free production are sure to be appealing attributes for tissue producers.”
The finishing touches
Finally, Niemi sees Metsä Fibre’s Technical Customer Service unit as a particularly helpful resource for tissue producers.
“This team is here to ensure that tissue producers benefit from the high quality of our pulp itself,” he points out. “Our Fibre Improvement Tool, for example, uses a large database of pulps to compare their different qualities and arrive at the best ratio and degree of refining by simulating the characteristics of the end result of each different combination.”
In the past, such studies would have to be conducted in the laboratory, but the new digital tool has already been of tremendous use for every variety of paper producers.
Niemi also highlights Metsä Fibre’s Botnia FORE (Fibre Optimisation and Refining Evaluation) concept. “This is done to ensure that the refining process in the paper machine is working as efficiently as it could be.”
The capacity to make savings while improving strength make Technical Customer Services the icing on the cake. “We try to exploit the strength potential of the softwood pulp to its greatest extent, and – as it is the most expensive component – to reduce the proportion used,” says Niemi, wrapping up what appears to be a very attractive package for tissue producers.