On 9-10 Nov 2023, over 50 participants from 17 South East Asian medium-density fibreboard (MDF) plants gathered at Bangkok, Thailand to attend Andritz’s MDF Customer Day.
The Customer Day served to update Andritz’s South East Asian MDF customers — a majority of whom are from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia — with their latest technologies and company performance.
The event kicked off with a slew of talks on 9 Nov, which ranged from Andritz’s latest developments in thermal and electrical energy savings to MDF refiner plate technology and their digitalisation and automation programme, followed by a round table discussion with Andritz specialists on 10 Nov.
Updates on Andritz
Michael Rupp, vice-president of Panelboard Systems at Andritz, welcomed the MDF producers with updates on Andritz’s sales, projects and acquisitions.
Pertaining to Andritz’s latest projects, Rupp said that Andritz recently supplied the world “largest” chip washing and pressurised refining system to date, the S2074, a 74in refiner, to Guangxi Chongzuo Lelin Forestry for their MDF plant.
However, this record-breaking size will soon be broken again, as Andritz is currently producing a 78in version of the refiner.
This means that “Andritz is in a position to supply equipment for highest capacity production too”, declared Rupp.
“The service and the support side from Andritz are well-proven. And I always like to say: We want to cover everything and support our customers from A to Z, as our name suggests,” Rupp said. Andritz has also supplied equipment for the production of insulation boards, which is a relatively new type of wood-panel and insulation material.
Proprietary MDF refiner plate technology
For the second talk, Martin Gaertner, regional product manager of MDF plates at Andritz, went in-depth into Andritz’s proprietary technology for their MDF refiner plates.
From traditional plate designs that come unsteady cutting conditions, high variation in fibre geometry, and higher energy consumption, Andritz has gradually improved their plate designs to include spiral, feed control curve (FCC), and quantum designs.
The latter few designs aim to reduce variation in fibre geometry and achieve more uniform fibres, thus generating better quality, while also reducing energy consumption and enabling a smoother refining performance.
In particular, the quantum design has a longer-lasting lifecycle by evenly distributing fibre all over the plate-gap through its unique dam arrangement, which at the same time also benefits fibre homogeneity.
Gaertner added: “Another advantage to the quantum design is versatility. With the quantum design, we have many more options to design the refiner plate, so now we can adapt to the customer needs and change the design accordingly.”
To help Andritz’s MDF customers better manage their refiner plates, the group has introduced two online tools: first, the Plate Change Calculator for customers to calculate the optimal lifetime; and second, the Plate Comparison Tool, which calculates and compares different Andritz plate performances.
Lifecycle solutions for wood processing
True to Rupp’s statement that Andritz provides solutions from “A to Z”, Heikki Valtokari, area sales manager of Wood Processing at Andritz, introduced the various kinds of solutions for the primary processing of raw materials.
In particular, Valtokari referenced their chipping and debarking lines, which are made out of standard single equipment or components and can be varied on a case-by-case basis.
These include log feeding, debarkers, log washing, chippers, chip storage, bark handling, including crushers and more.
For instance, he explained that Andritz’s horizontal and drop feed disc chippers that are available in different sizes for different capacities can produce chips of much better quality than drum chippers.
Andritz’s chippers are also durable as the parts contact with wood is covered with changeable wear plates: Valtokari reported that the first horizontal fed disc chipper they supplied in 2003 still runs now. The total amount of supplied disc chippers is over 400 pieces since 1980s, according to Andritz.
Andritz has supplied their chipping and debarking lines with chip and bark handling to Indonesia, South America, and in China, to name a few.
Improving lifetime performance and sustainable development of equipment
Led by Andritz’s South East Asian representative Thomas Brandl, sales manager of Andritz’s Panelboard Service and Winston Lee, managing director of Malaysia-based Techstream, the second last talk of the day touched on Andritz’s efforts to maximise the performance of MDF equipment from virtually any OEM.
Brandl and Lee emphasised to the attendees that it is no longer necessary to send the parts to the workshops, Andritz or copycat, for reconditioning by welding, especially in the case of the plug screw feeders, as the new devices are equipped with replaceable wear parts which can be easily exchanged directly on site.
Spare parts repaired by copycats often come back to the customer with a different design as to the one originally sent in, which can have a major impact to the performance and the lifetime of the plug screw feeder equipment.
Also, if the repairs are carried out with the wrong parameters, cracks can occur in the parts and also damage the surrounding equipment.
Another point they stressed was that they can help customers using competitors’ refiners such as the L-, M-, Evo-Series by sending spare parts, carrying out refurbishments and also upgrading their refining equipment.
One more new development presented by Andritz was the new adjustable plug screw feeder, with which the compression can be adjusted to the moisture content of the incoming material, be it softwood, hardwood, or a mixture.
This results in maximising the dewatering performance and reduces the thermal energy — for example, natural gas — consumption drastically. Overall, innovative solutions were presented that aim to improve the overall efficiency of the production process and ensure smoother and long-lasting production.
Digitalisation and automation by Andritz
The final presentation of the day was delivered by Genc Islamaj, the Panelboard Service product manager for Automation & Digitalisation at Andritz.
Islamaj discussed the automation and digitalisation solutions implemented in panelboard by Andritz.
Attendees gained insight into the possibilities of classic automation upgrades, showcasing the modernisation of existing plants through the integration of state-of-the-art technologies.
The main objective was to illustrate the flexibility and potential of upgrades, applicable not only to Andritz machines but also to those of competitors.
In addition, Islamaj presented solutions for autonomous production, such as the MDFEye, an online measuring device for assessing fibre quality, or the DigitalWood, a product for assessing wood quality by tracking, detecting and monitoring the most important properties of incoming raw material.
The advanced energy controls for the dryer and the refiner for reducing production costs and the Metris All-In-One platform, which enables the realisation of these new products, were also presented.