Contributor

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. holds a B.S. in Plastics Engineering from the University of Massachusetts - Lowell. He has been affiliated with the converting industry for more than 30 years...more

Process Monitoring Reduces Waste for Paper & Film Industries

Remote data monitoring for web-based processes is now a reality.  I met with Envoy Development, a leading data analytics company, to discuss current practice and use of data monitoring for the paper and film manufacturing industry. In this current era of reduced budgets and staffing, the need for reduced waste and consistent quality has not changed.  Reduced staffing however means less eyes to watch the process, inspect product, find defects and correct the issue, Or it means longer and longer hours with fewer and fewer people, which of course has diminishing returns.  This is where data acquisition and monitoring comes into play. Firmly established in the paper industry, Envoy Development is expanding into the film industry.

Recently I met with Monica Bastola, Process Reliability Manager with Envoy Development in Richmond, Virginia to discuss the emerging use of remote data acquisition as a tool, called "Process Monitor", for process engineering and management to help identify and solve process issues in a timely fashion.  In summary, this remote data acquisition and analysis tool is like having an army or process engineers on machine 24/7.  If targets don't exist, their software will generate it, which in and of itself is fascinating, and probably worth the cost of the software itself.

Ms. Bastola says, "Process Monitor solves the problem of identifying variables operating outside of their normal operating envelope without resorting to examining hundreds of trends, spreadsheets, or DCS/PLC alarms.  Unlike other centerlining applications, Process Monitor examines all variables in a process and even calculates the ideal targets and limits based on past history by product type and/or production rate.  Users can further specify a time period of known good performance or create a conditional query which might include cost, quality, production rate, etc – Process Monitor then identifies historical windows that meet these criteria and uses them to calculate targets and limits.  Variables that are outside of their normal operating envelope are identified and then rank ordered by severity. 

"Users can manually specify targets and limits, trend by grade, and filter by keyword, even use a calendar to identify deviations by date and time.  Clicking on a variable allows a user to comment on the condition as well as see action item lists, other variables that might be impacted, etc.  In addition to looking at the value of a variable, Envoy Process Monitor also monitors the variation of each variable in a process.  Discrete events can either be captured (based on process logic) or manually entered.

Process Monitor automatically generates Excel files that can be fed into third party statistical applications or be used with Envoy’s Excel add-in, which allows users to identify changes between operating periods or trials, identify all variables that changed when a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) changed, instantly identify the variables that correlate with a selected variable, create calculations on using variable’s historical values, and perform many other statistical functions".

Envoy Development licenses this application for around €10,000 installed, with no user limit.  Customers can also contract with Envoy for remote data analysis.  This service provides a daily email identifying the variables that a process manager should be aware of as well as a monthly report summarizing what is driving Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

I asked Ms. Bastola for examples of the utility of the system, and she offered the following examples of recent customer successes.

  • Identified amps on a large VFD pump were higher than they had historically been based on speed. Traditional vibration analysis techniques failed to identify a bad inboard bearing but Process Monitor did identify a problem, which maintenance craftsmen quickly corrected.
  • A paper machine started to suffer from a large number of web breaks; Process Monitor showed a lack of water removal in a certain section on the machine. A rotating roll had been in the machine too long and was worn.
  • Amps on a chemical mixer dropped suddenly, but did not generate a DCS alarm. Envoy Process Monitor flagged this as well as high chemical residuals, high costs, and several other variables that suggested the mixer shaft was no longer turning.  A quick shutdown revealed the key way that kept the mixer on the shaft had fallen out.

To learn more about this software and how it could be used in your process, please contact Monica Bastola at +1 870-500-0240 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Subscribe to PFFC's EClips Newsletter