FPInnovations launched a five-year tissue strategy last year, with an ambitious target to become the top tissue research and innovation center in the world by 2020.
As part of this strategy, FPInnovations has developed a suite of tissue testing methods and tools to characterize tissue structure and evaluate key tissue performance attributes such as tissue softness, water absorption and uniformity, as well as tissue linting and dusting. FPInnovations' pulp, paper and tissue testing laboratory can test the physical properties of tissue such as bulk, optical properties, wet and dry strength, and water absorption according to ISO standard methods. FPInnovations has a full handfeel softness panel and tissue softness analyzer (TSA) and has done a large amount of work to assess their correlation which is very helpful for the mills that have purchased the TSA instruments. FPInnovations can also provide other testing services including pulp quality and fiber morphology evaluation, chemical analysis, and microscopy/image analysis that can be used to help troubleshoot tissue operational problems and to support new product development and performance enhancement.
The current five-year strategy involves developing insights into how fiber morphology and properties affect tissue performance through advanced fiber property characterization, laboratory studies and pilot scale benchmarking of pulp furnishes, as well as identifying and developing fiber processing technologies to enhance pulp fiber properties for tissue making, including both mechanical and chemical modifications. FPInnovations' pilot paper machine was redesigned in 2007 to add tissue production capabilities. The pilot tissue machine offers control and flexibility for making tissue products under an ideally controlled environment. We are currently looking into adding TAD and converting facilities to the pilot tissue machine. The uniformity of tissue reels can now be analyzed with FPInnovations' Roll Testing Facility (RTF), a unique piece of equipment designed to test and quantify the uniformity of the web. The RTF also has a scanner to measure moisture and basis weight properties. Stretch variation can be quantified and we have found that it has a significant impact on converting efficiency.
The five-year strategy involves enhancing sustainability and cost competitiveness of tissue mills through reduction in water and energy usage and environmental footprint. We are employing a systematic approach, including modeling to evaluate the entire mill operation to identify opportunities for significant reduction in water and energy usage.
FPInnovations has a long-standing expertise and developed tools in diagnosing and troubleshooting web defects for paper and board grades, which have now been adapted to help identify cost-effective solutions to efficiency issues in tissue manufacturing and converting – a critical area for tissue makers, as poor converting efficiency leads to a significant amount of rejects and waste, creating a large amount of broke going back to the system, causing operation and product quality issues.
Developing fundamental understanding of how creping operation and chemistry affect tissue structure and performance by using on-line sensors and modelling of creping mechanics – through partnerships with universities and suppliers – is a big part of the five-year strategy, along with working with industry partners to demonstrate the application of the new measurement tools and fundamental understanding in product performance enhancement and new product development.