Owing to the complexities of having to negotiate the technical obstacles in selecting the right pumping solutions for specific applications, pump manufacturer Verder Pumps South Africa MD Darryl Macdougall says paper and pulp manufacturers need to look to a trusted and reputable brand that not only offers a range of pumping solutions but also solutions that are long-lasting, cost-effective and energy efficient.
“Manufacturing paper is a resource-intensive process, even if it is 100% recycled material. Shredding wood, paper, and textiles to the right size, creating the pulp, and then pressing it into paper is a process that requires the right equipment, including pumps to move the slurry.”
He adds that paper and wood pulp, as well as the chemicals used in the bleaching process, can be quite abrasive and corrosive to pumps and pumping systems. Therefore, a poorly designed pump system may lead to losses in production, owing to the premature wear or failure of components – which might not be isolated to the pump itself – and can impact on instrumentation, piping, valves and ancillary equipment.
Macdougall points out that, with this, there is also the risk of work stoppages or breakdowns, in addition to routine planned maintenance. “Any of these possible scenarios are guaranteed to hamper operational efficiencies and production outputs – not to mention potentially increasing labour costs and inventory of spare parts – leading to operational expenses being driven up.”
However, having the correct advanced and integrated pumping solution can support manufacturers’ operational efficiency objectives. “Our series of Verderflex pumps is ideal for harsh environments and pumping abrasive liquids, making them fit-for-purpose for paper- and board-making applications, from pulp pre-treatment, pulping, bleaching through to post pulping washing, thickening and dewatering and the final stage of paper making,” Macdougall points out.
“Additionally, our range of VerderPure diaphragm pumps are solid machined double-diaphragm pumps constructed of solid polyethylene or polytetrafluoroethylene, making them impervious to corrosion and highly resistant to wear. These solutions are also suitable for pumping pigments, adding coatings and polyurethane laminates and abrasive slurries in the process.”
From an operational efficiency and cost management perspective, as well as what it means for promoting more sustainable business practices, he mentions that there is growing interest in and focus on reducing reliance on water by paper manufacturers.
“For example, water has always been fundamental to the manufacturing process. However, often the demands for process water result in additional investment in water-treatment and reprocessing facilities. This further increases the initial cost of any project and impacts on the natural environment.”
However, Macdougall highlights that adoptiing novel techniques, and focusing on efficiency and the associated operational costs, will yield the optimum return for manufacturers.
Meanwhile, he says that although “offtaker” market trends linked to digital transformation continue to negatively affect the printing and writing paper market-segments, demand for other products – such as certain grades of packaging and pulp, and dissolving wood pulp cellulose and nanocellulose – remains strong.
He adds that demand is also healthy for recycled paper and tissue paper. As such, manufacturers need to look at the current market trends and their influence on business to identify where opportunities may exist to diversify their business around new product streams.
Macdougall says some manufacturers have started to diversify their operations and product output: “For example, paper and pulp company Sappi is establishing itself as a world-leading producer of specialised cellulose, which is used in the manufacturing and production of various consumer products across a diverse range of industries.”
Moreover, Sappi, in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University, has also developed a new low-cost process to manufacture what has been dubbed as the “wonder material” – nanocellulose – that has a number of potential applications, including vehicle manufacturing and energy storage.