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Successful forming section upgrade leads to improved performance at Sappi's Tugela mill

A few years ago, Sappi launched a multi-year modernisation plan to improve both production and paper quality of its Tugela mill, based in Mandeni in KwaZulu-Natal. In the first phase, the forming section of the mill's PM2 was upgraded successfully with Valmet's support.

forming section upgrade at Sappi's Tugela mill

Sappi's Tugela mill plays a major role in packaging innovation in South Africa and is one of the mills in the country to offer high-performance containerboard packaging. Tugela's PM 2 is a legacy Valmet machine producing the mill's signature product Ultraflute Plus, a premium brown paper known for its unique characteristics suitable for lightweight boxes that retain their strength even in cold storage conditions.

Tugela's PM 2

To begin with, we identified our production bottlenecks and determined that the forming section upgrade would be carried out first. When choosing the supplier, we were impressed with Valmet's approach, technology and the modifications they recommended to the forming tables, and that is why we selected Valmet to support us in the project, says Atish Singh, Senior Process Engineer.

Valmet's approach is tailored to meet customers' needs

Valmet's forming section improvement solutions are always customised to the customer's needs whether it's to improve paper quality, solve runnability problems, improve dewatering or ensure overall operational reliability.

"In this case, the basis weight range and product portfolio on PM2 required a particular approach and a combination of fixed as well as adjustable ceramic blades were selected. Through the enhanced forming section configuration, we were able to optimise the forming table setup for each specific paper grade, while ensuring quick positioning during grade changes," explains Guy Bédard, Product Manager, Wet End, from Valmet.

Close collaboration ensured a successful result

Throughout the project, Sappi's and Valmet's teams met regularly to ensure that progress was ongoing, and that all installation work and preparation was carried out under the strict safety requirements of both companies. The final installation of equipment and start-up was accomplished during the PM2 annual shutdown.

The forming section upgrade resulted in an increased sheet consistency that exceeded the anticipated results. Significant improvements in drainage were noticed on all grades.

"Valmet was an exceptional supplier to work with and the close collaboration between our teams ensured the project's success despite challenges caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Extraordinary flexibility was required from all of us," Atish commented.


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