Cominter Paper S.A.

Manufacturers of single-use products for retail
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EL PAPEL April-May 2013 – Kartogroup: production efficiency, product sophistication

The company, located close to Castellón, Spain, manufactures white tissue paper and, in the converting plant, toilet and kitchen paper for retail customers.

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Kartogroup’s tissue plant is located in the town of Burriana, Castellon. With its 180 employees, divided between the paper mill and converting plant, Kartogroup produces about 47,000 tons of tissue paper per year, mostly high quality toilet and kitchen rolls. The company remained an independent family owned business from its establishment in 1985 until the Italian group Kartogroup SPA acquired it in 2002. The summer of 2008 was a difficult period for Kartogroup, during which it was almost forced to close. However, the company managed to continue operating through investments made by Catalan investors and thanks to the extraordinary work of the entire technical team.  Kartogroup managed to improve all plant production processes, optimized the production of the 2 paper machines and significantly increased the efficiency of the paper mill. Anton Clará, director of the paper mill for the past 5 years, received the editorial staff of El Papel and offered as a visit throughout the entire production plant, from the reception of the cellulose bales to the loading of the finished product. This has given us the opportunity to see in detail the entire process. Additionally, he has also explained to us the main investments and technical improvements that have been carried out recently, which have allowed Kartogroup to become a modern plant capable of serving the needs of the market.

All products are manufactured with virgin pulp:

In the raw material warehouse cellulose, either short or long fibre, is received from producing countries or regions, such as Chile, Portugal, Finland, Galicia, etc. No waste paper is used in this plant, all products are manufactured exclusively with virgin pulp. In the pulper recipes are elaborated to obtain different types of paper. Generally, 1.500 kilograms of cellulose are used for every 25.000 kilograms of water. Subsequently the pulp is shredded, depuration and refined.

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The two paper machines work in parallel. The PM1, with a width of 2,55 meters and with a flat table, has a designed speed of 700 m/min. The PM2, a more modern machine, has a width of 2,65 meters and produces at a speed of 1.800 m/min, equivalent to 84 tons of paper per day. The total daily production of the plant is 125 tons.  The paper produced has a grammage of between 16 to 21 gr/m2.

In both machines the objective is to extract the maximum quantity of water from the fabric, felts, suction cylinder and in the blind press, as the last, vapour drying, is the most expensive.  “We have calculated that if for example we can increase the water that is eliminated in the suction cylinder stage from 40% to 41%, it is possible to reduce energy consumption by 20%, i.e. words gas and electricity”, comments Anton Clará.

“If the properties of the rubber have been lost, the efficiency of the machine decreases”

Thanks to a close collaboration with Tecno-Caucho, paper quality stability has improved and therefore directly decreasing energy costs. “In the paper production the critical points are the rollers and more importantly the rubber coatings, similarly as to tires for a car”. 

“We managed to reduce by 10% the energy consumption of the machine” – Anton Clará

In 2011 Kartogroup started an improvement project of PM2, which lasted for about 1 year. “Our first battle was the profile of the rollers; we were trying to improve the pumping in order to reach the maximum homogeneity of the NIP.  Afterwards we focused on the rubber quality (strength, elongation, etc.). The third objective was the suction cylinder’s liner perforations. This was a precision task, as the holes of the liner had to be checked one by one. In total we have managed to reduce the energy consumption of the plant by 10%”.

“In addition to efficiency, with the improvements implemented we increased the paper quality, very important in a market in which consumers are increasingly demanding”, explains Clará. “Thanks to the high performance coating, as we now have, we can make adjustments to the machine (speed, pressure, etc.) more easily and accurately”, adds Clará. “This has reduced the rejections, improved reliability and most importantly reduced energy consumption”. “We need to have this part of the machine, in essence its heart, to work very well and to be completely stable. The resilience, for example, is fundamental. If the properties of the rubber have been lost, the efficiency of the machine decreases”. “Moreover, if the paper quality is good, the converting phase improves considerably”, adds.

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During converting the maximum quality is sought

The converting plant has four roll and two napkins production lines, which together produce more than 180 tons of paper per day. The Gambini machine installed in July 2012 is the most modern line and the most recently installed. In this Gambini line, prepared for three mother reels, it is possible to produce paper of up to 4 layers, or more, if a roll of 2 layers is used. An additional option, customer can request to have perfume added or a softening agent, which makes the fibres swell and become spongy. The embossing unit uses tailor-made steel embossing rolls with the design requested by the customer based on laser technology. The excellent performance of the rubber embossing cylinder mean that it can exercise pressure and adapt to the design of the steel cylinder. The excellent rubber resilience, which means it recovers its original form immediately and has maximum lifespan. The cliché cylinders are also from Tecno-Caucho. The glue is applied extremely uniformly so that it is distributed only over the surface of the design, but without damaging the drawing.

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The carton cores that are used to roll the paper are produced on site to save space with a Gambini Coremaker. Purchasing these would imply managing a daily stock of 30.000 carton cores. In this process too an own development, in collaboration with Tecno-Caucho, has resulted in machine improvements. Sets of bars were produced for the formation of the cores (fixed and mobile) covered with a nanostructured carbon alloy, developed by Tecno-Caucho called Maxihard® with a superficial strength of > 1.350 HV 0,3. The bars are rectified and lapped reducing the friction coefficient, which greatly reduces the wear resulting from the abrasion when rolling the kraft paper during the formation of the interior tubes of the toilet and kitchen rolls.

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The important investments made in machines in Kartogroup during the past few years has been accompanied by great effort in the adjustment and continuous improvement of processes, industrial organization, rigourous management and a daily demand on quality and order in the plant. Thanks to all of this, the company is now in good shape and able to compete un a very competitive market.

The Catalan company, Cominter Inversiones, currently owns 100% Kartogroup Spain. The Catalan investors were minority shareholders until 2008 (25%) of Kartogroup, then subsidiary of the Italian Kartogroup SPA. In 2008 they acquired the remaining 75% of the shares from the parent and became the sole owners.