Giving New Life to an Ageing Corrugator

With a global footprint, Smurfit Kappa’s focus on innovation and sustainability helps them create new packaging designs that give customers the freedom to choose while reducing their environmental footprint because the products are 100% renewable.

Located in Germany, Smurfit Kappa Wellpappe Nordplant, based in Lauenburg, employs around 170 people and produces packaging for the food industry, among others.

The Challenge

As with any manufacturing business, equipment ages and even with regular maintenance, there is often diminished performance. The plant at Lauenburg had a 2.5m wide corrugator made up of multiple modules. The machine had been in operation for approximately 35 years, but was running entirely in manual mode and relied upon the experience of the operators to maintain a degree of process control.

The lack of consistent automatic corrugator and process control negatively impacted board repeatability and quality, resulting in increased waste levels. Smurfit Kappa identified this as a risk and needed a better solution to manage the corrugator and process, mitigate reliance on manual intervention, and extend the equipment’s life while reducing waste and costs.

The Solution

Eric Claes, Director of Operations at Smurfit Kappa Germany, engaged in discussions with eProductivity Software’s Escada team to address the challenge.

An initial site audit looked at areas for corrugator and process control improvement. The Escada team identified that Syncro 7, a single-point corrugator control system that covers every phase of application from the wet-end to the dry-end would be suitable, coupled with Profile, Escada’s closed-loop process control system utilising the Closed-Loop laser bar to improve board quality and reduce warp.

Claes comments, “The Escada team was faultless – the assessment was thorough and conducted professionally and in the shortest possible time. They briefed us on the options and assured us that the solution would meet our needs.”

The Results

Once Syncro 7 and Profile had been deployed, the Smurfit Kappa team could confidently track the corrugator’s performance. They immediately noticed that they had achieved much better warp control and that the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) had improved.

Claes explains, “Having faced the option of investing in a new machine or optimising our existing equipment, we preferred to go down the latter route. We have been suitably impressed with the results of Syncro 7 and Profile – our machine speeds have increased, board consistency has improved, and we’ve calculated that it’s resulted in significant annual savings, mainly in waste reduction.”

He concludes, “The system has reduced the risk of our previous reliance on operator knowledge. We can effectively look to recruit new hires without specific skills and quickly get them up to speed running the corrugator knowing that the Escada system will look after the corrugator and process control each shift with no change in quality.”

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