The fibre optimisation and refining evaluation tool (FORE) developed by Metsä Fibre's technical customer service has been renewed. While new features have been added to the tool, the basic functions remain unchanged. The refining audit service, which uses the FORE tool, can now produce refining recommendations quickly, and presents the results clearly and graphically. A refining audit provides customers with precise data to help them optimise their pulp refining.
Selecting the right method of refining is important. Metsä Fibre's Development Manager Kirsi Hirvonen gives an example: "If a customer uses softwood pulp in their fibre mix, then the long fibres of the softwood pulp will give the paper strength. During refining, the fibres may nevertheless be cut, in which case the customer will not achieve the benefits and properties they expected."
But the pulp can also be refined in such a way that the fibres shorten only slightly, if at all.
There are a variety of paper properties that are a direct result of the refining process. For example, if the fibre length is decreased, the strength and resistance to tearing of the paper will decrease, but the formation and surface smoothness will increase, and the print quality will become better.
Data integrated into customer service
The FORE tool is based on calculation models that have been developed in universities and research institutions. The basic data needed in the calculations includes the type of refiner and refiner bars, refiner energy, flow, consistency, as well as the length and coarseness of the fibre used.
The FORE tool contains data on the properties of the refiners and refiner bars used in the industry.
The tool combines the data and indicates the way in which the pulp used in a given process should be refined. Metsä Fibre's technical customer service experts then give refining recommendations on the basis of these results.
"The best result is achieved when we integrate the numerical data with our customer service's know-how on fibres, refining, paper and paperboard."
Then the customer can choose the right type of refiner fillings for the pulp and the correct refining method.
Clear savings for the customer
The refining audit service also allows customers to save on costs when the pulp is refined in a manner that uses as little energy as possible.
"You can also get clear savings by refining the fibre mix in the right way" says Hirvonen.
When they want to, customers can also include pulp sampling in the service, which will be taken before and after the refining audit recommendations are implemented. This way, customers can ensure that the recommendations really work.
Pulp refining develops continuously, and the FORE tool keeps up with the times.
"Refiner technologies develop, and we have to keep up to date with their development. This allows us to provide customers with the latest information."