Andritz, headquartered in Austria, says it is accelerating the development of new capabilities and implementing these innovative features.

Innovations in thermal and electrical energy savings, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) connectivity, and smart-plant networks, are part of Andritz’s offering for new 'front-ends' in panel making factories.

This includes the wood yard, chip storage, chip washing, pressurised refining and evaporation systems.

The company says that the good news is that these capabilities can also be retro-fitted into existing installations.

Energy Down, Throughput Up

Several of Andritz's innovations are designed to reduce energy consumption – a key cost factor for any MDF producer.

According to studies, the company says that more than 70% of energy demand is thermal energy, so technology which reduces thermal energy consumption can have a significant payback, as well as a positive global impact in reducing the use of fossil fuels.

Andritz says it is the market leader in supplying high-capacity steaming systems (up to 80bdmt/hr). The company adds that Centre Steaming for high-capacity plants ensures the best pre-treatment of wood chips before they enter the digester.

It also offers Smart Plug Screw Feeders, which it says achieve the highest de-watering efficiency – even for incoming raw materials with a high moisture content. The compression ratio and diameter of the screw can be customised to each application. The cylindrical shape of the plug screw creates the industry’s largest amount of open area for de-watering, says Andritz.

The Steam Regulation Module (SRM) for effective heat utilisation within the digester was implemented by Andritz several years ago.

However, the latest innovation in SRM uses counter-current flow and a steam regulator to maximise thermal transfer and lower overall consumption. The new SRM carries out the counter-current flow into the digester, based on online temperature measurements. This achieves a very stable temperature in the digester, in order to ensure the best chip quality in terms of moisture, colour and temperature, before the chips are refined.

Andritz says that its Steam Recovery System (SRS) allows the re-use of excess steam by returning it from the blowline after the refiner to the pre-steaming bin.

Advanced Wear Resistance

Even though the quality of fibrous raw materials is declining, the demands for quality in the end product are increasing, says the company.

One of the side effects of this trend is that machinery is subject to more wear as throughput increases.

Andritz says it has added advanced wear protection in the pressurised refining system to offset the potentially high wear due to pressurised flows and abrasive raw materials.

Another innovation is the embedding of sensors in the feeder to monitor bar wear, screw condition and screw deflection. It adds that the innovative Plug Screw Feeder mentioned above monitors screw condition online, so that replacement of the critical wear components can be scheduled as precisely as possible.

IIoT tools are offered for predictive maintenance and optimal operation. Andritz says it is very active in developing solutions compatible with IIoT, including its innovative Andritz Maintenance Interval Guide Organiser (AMIGO), in order to help maintenance personnel increase their efficiency and lower their costs.

For example, these include: automating cleaning sequences; monitoring the wear of critical components; condition monitoring of bearings, lubrication and cooling water systems; and refiner plate pattern recognition. In addition, says the company, there are new SMART products to improve product performance, such as de-watering efficiency and steam recovery. Connected in a proper way, it says, these IIoT solutions contribute to complete autonomous plant operation.

Next generation at LIGNA Andritz says its product development goal remains the same: Enhanced fibre quality for panel production, with the minimum use of resources. It adds that the main difference today is the availability of SMART sensors and devices to facilitate achieving this goal.

Another difference is the use of annual plants such as bagasse and straw in addition to traditional wood fibres, where the company says it has some new developments. Andritz says that its specialists will be on hand at Ligna on Stand D27 in Hall 26, to discuss these recent product innovations and IIoT solutions.

It also says that the theme for its presentation at Ligna is quite fitting – Next- Generation Performance