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World’s largest “smart” pulp mill in Chile

Emerson Process Management has helped Celulosa Arauco strengthen its pulp supply capability by digitally integrating the world’s largest “smart” pulping mill built by the industry leader at Nueva Aldea in central Chile.

Digital automation allows mill personnel to readily access more data, allowing for easier calibration and greater mill-wide visibility, efficiency, and management.

Combining its expertise and PlantWeb architecture, Emerson digitally automated the entire Smart Mill, resulting in an unusually fast start-up while meeting Arauco’s critical goals of environmental protection and personnel safety, and quality production.

“We automated the whole plant from the moment we feed the logs into the chipper until a bale of pulp emerges at the end,” said Alejandro Erazo, Distributed Control Systems Project Engineer for Arauco. “Our objective was to use the most modern technology in the market and use it in the best way possible, to make each part of the project easier, from engineering to configuration to start-up of the plant.”

“We chose PlantWeb digital architecture because we wanted the most modern technology available for our plant to speed up the calibration and start-up phases,” added Erazo. “The entire plant was optimised from wood feed at the front end to pulp shipment at the back end which substantially reduces costs and start-up times. The calibration time of each instrument was reduced by one-third and configuring motor control centers for 30 motors now takes half a day or so rather than two weeks to a month as was the case without intelligent motor controls. Valve configuration time has also been substantially reduced. On previous projects we typically spent half a day trying to move the valve to the chosen setpoint. Today all we have to do is push a button and it self-calibrates.”

“Despite the huge scope of this project, it was completed on time largely due to the excellent support we received from Emerson,” said Gunars Luks Guzman, Mill Manager of the Nueva Aldea mill. “We were successful in achieving all of our objectives. The plant is designed to turn out 856,000 tons of Kraft pulp a year. In only six months after start-up, we had reached 93.8 percent of that target, on a monthly basis, and have since ramped up to full production according to plan. I’m proud to have been part of this project.”

Celulosa Arauco is one of the world’s largest forestry companies measured by plantation area and production of Kraft wood pulp and sawn timber and wood panels. The pulp mill construction project represents an approximate US$850 million capital investment.

Emerson automation and service experts from Argentina and Chile worked with Celulosa Arauco to provide a completely integrated Smart Mill solution built around PlantWeb digital architecture, including DeltaV systems and FOUNDATION fieldbus networking. Emerson wrote a Functional Description Specification (FDS) for managing the automation of the project. Arauco delivered the FDS to vendors who returned their digital configuration data for entry into the DeltaV digital automation system. This proved valuable in efficiently integrating the work of a number of suppliers.

Training, simulation, start-up and commissioning were managed through Emerson and Arauco teamwork. Pre-start-up off-line testing using complete high fidelity simulation of the operating pulp mill by the DeltaV system enabled validation of operations and configuration across all vendor equipment, avoiding trouble at start-up.

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