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Technidyne Automates the Test Lab at Cascades Division Rolland

The newly installed technology is the PROFILE/Plus modular system for online testing manufactured by Technidyne, a quality control solutions provider located in Dorval, QC. The system acquired by Casc...


December 1, 2006
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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The newly installed technology is the PROFILE/Plus modular system for online testing manufactured by Technidyne, a quality control solutions provider located in Dorval, QC. The system acquired by Cascades conducts six different readings for the plant’s three paper machines: base weight (grammage), strength (TSI/TSA), porosity, finish, thickness, lustre, colour and opacity. Cascades chose these measurement parameters because they are essential to product quality control. The laboratory also performs ink and folding tests, but these are still done randomly. One of the system’s features is its modularity: each module acts independently, although the automated system integrates all data for precise control of the paper’s characteristics in real time. At the St-Jrme plant, the Technidyne system has made a huge difference and both management and the lab specialists are full of praise for it.

“Speaking as quality assurance manager, the system we now have is the one we’ve always wanted to have!” Paul Dub said enthusiastically. “I have access to a valuable data bank for a host of uses: profiles, run standards, individual data on each lot, each product — and all on the same screen. It’s a dream management tool!” he added. Indeed, a mere glance is enough to see that all the quality control elements are colligated. For example, for a Rockland Bond Multi-Colours roll, the screen displays the detailed information regarding base, lot and reel weight, the production date and the number of rejects (non-standard).

“Traceability is complete,” explained Mario Fauteux, project manager, quality, at Cascades Division Rolland and the man in charge of the project. “We know who performed the test, on what and at what time.”

Visually, the system is based on the old paper-testing system: a simple colour code — green — is used when the values conform with the objectives, yellow if the value deviates slightly from the objective but remains close to it, and red if the value is not in line with the objectives.

PROFILE/Plus system in the field

The PROFILE/Plus system is linked to the in-house computer system developed by Cascades’ computer specialists. Here, too, we’re talking innovation.

“It’s the first functional project designed in C-Sharp,” plant programmer-analyst Alexandre Dupuis pointed out. “The Tissue Paper group is expected to soon put into service a project in C-Sharp, but presently we’re the only ones at Cascades to have done so.”

The AS400 database servers, for their part, are located in Kingsey Falls, QC. Dupuis emphasized that hooking up the Technidyne system with the in-house system did not involve any snags.

“Technidyne has been a big help,” he continued. “Our system was developed to serve the plant’s needs but also with an eye to the arrival of the Technidyne system.” PROFILE/Plus is linked to a computer screen flanking three screens that track the activity on the three paper machines. The mouse allows the user to move the cursor from one screen to another (from one machine to another) and to update all the data. The in-house system integrates the Technidyne system data and the manual entries.

In the field, the technicians seem delighted with the PROFILE/Plus system.

“The system functions very well,” confirmed certified laboratory tester Bruno Bouchard. “As with any equipment, there are always little bugs that arise, but it’s a very reliable system.”

Mario Fauteux added, “We’ve had no paper rejects owing to the equipment installed by Technidyne. I think that’s worth mentioning because it doesn’t always work that way with all equipment providers.”

Bouchard emphasized the importance of Technidyne’s 24-hour service.

“No matter when, if we experience a hitch, we obtain a response within 10 to 15 minutes.”

Technidyne’s cooperation is appreciated in every respect.

“Each operator has been trained on the system in order to learn how it functions,” Fauteux said. “We had an operations manual prepared in collaboration with Technidyne — not only for the system itself but also in order to document it as part of our quality control program. The manual includes a video problem-resolution guide for better understanding. The video portion was produced at Technidyne’s facilities, but also in part at our lab. And even without this tool, the equipment provides a good portion of the procedure to follow in case of glitches,” he added.

Technidyne also benefits from Internet access for the purpose of identifying and analyzing bugs. The provider can, in fact, connect with the St-Jrme plant upon request.

“It’s perfect for us,” said Fauteux, who didn’t hesitate to add that, just like Cascades Division Rolland, Technidyne’s after-sales service was a major factor when the time came to make a choice.

“The service and the quality/price ratio make PROFILE/Plus an affordable system.”

Impact at the plant

Implementation of Technidyne’s automated system and the internal system took place in record time.

“We had already purchased a first module for porosity and finish in 2001,” said Fauteux, who has been with Cascades Division Rolland (formerly Papiers Rolland) since 1978. “At that time, we knew that we would have to automate, but we didn’t yet know how. This past spring, PM5 was shut down and I was mandated to reorganize the tests. We wanted to meet the growing demand among clients for detailed reports. But we also needed to reduce our rejects for non-conformity and reorganize quality control. Since I’d already looked into the automation question, I was asked if I had a plan. Of course I did! I was given the request in December 2005 and in February 2006 the plan was ready for approval, which coincided with the plant’s restructuring. We received the modules in April, training took place over a three-week period in May and the project really got going on May 30 during a machine shutdown.”

Aside from the implementation of new technology, which has unquestionably improved plant production performance, automation of lab testing has had a plant-wide impact.

“When a technology like this one is implemented,” explained Mario Fauteux, “usually the plant tester or testers are let go. Most companies in fact ask their employees, preferably a backtender, to do the testing themselves. Not here! Quality has been our trademark for 125 years, so with us, the tester is important — he’s our quality man. He manages the tests, draws attention to problems, works daily with the equipment — he’s the person with the technical knowledge. We closed the PM6 lab, kept the tester with the most seniority and concentrated the laboratory testing in the PM7 and PM8 lab. The samples from PM6 are brought here by bicycle — it’s very efficient.”

This reorganization has reinforced the importance of testing — a fundamental step in quality assurance and standards compliance — and has given the tester a major role in quality management. Elsewhere in the plant, the introduction of the new technology seems to have enhanced the employees’ sense of accountability.

“They’re now more involved because they can verify in real time the quality parameters of their paper,” added Fauteux.

“The close cooperation between the client and Technidyne is the key to the success of the PROFILE/Plus innovative approach,” said Technidyne general manager Robert Marineau. “We wish to especially congratulate and thank the people at Cascades St-Jrme for this achievement.”