ABB and ACA Partner to Improve Paper Product Quality with New Measurement Tools

February 05, 2021 by Seth Price

ABB and ACA Systems have partnered up to supply paper and pulp manufacturers with new tools to measure porosity.

ABB and ACA Combine Quality Control Technology 

ABB will pair their L&W bases and Quality Control System (QCS) with ACA’s Permi, their porosity sensor. Improving the uniformity of paper porosity can reduce the amount of scrap, which increases the profitability of the papermill. 

ABB’s motion control systems and data processing capabilities are already used by various paper product manufacturers.


ACA Systems' readings from ACA Permi. Image courtesy of ACA.


ACA Systems specializes in making analytical and quality control tools for all aspects of the paper industry. Their product line includes viscometers for pulp processing to roll quality analyzers to porosity measurement devices, such as their Permi sensor.

The two companies hope their partnered efforts will increase efficiency in pulp ad paper processes. 


Porosity in the Paper Industry

In the paper industry, porosity, or the air space in the paper, can affect paper quality. Porosity should be uniform and low for most applications. Some applications, such as paper towels, toilet tissue, and facial tissue, require some porosity to improve absorbance, but most applications require low porosity. 

Pores must be uniform for the best performance, else the paper will have weak spots prone to tearing, and dyes and coatings will not be consistent. Uniformity can also reveal developing problems before they lead to scrap. 

For example, if the edges of the roll are showing an increasing number of pores, there may be a problem with the pulping processor with the pressure generated from the rolls that are causing the paper to stretch. Users can make adjustments to the process before losing rolls to tears. 


ACA’s Permi Sensor

The ACA Permi sensor measures air permeability through the paper as it is spooled. The amount of air able to pass through the paper will vary based on the amount of connected porosity in the sheet. 

According to ACA, this system is 50-100 times faster than existing permeability measurement methods. Its specially designed sensor head can measure permeability even when the paper has been coated, such as in glossy or colored paper applications. 

For most applications, the Permi only has to be calibrated once and has a built-in self-cleaning routine.


Permi Sensor. Image courtesy of ACA.


Traditional laboratory quality control methods measure rolls at 5-10 points. Instead of taking a few measurements and assuming the rest of the roll is identical, the Permi sensor can scan rolls up to 4.2 m (13.8 ft) wide and take up to 15,000 data points per roll. The data collected can ensure rolls are more uniform. 

ACA’s Permi sensor can also be integrated with cloud-based data storage so that measurements can be analyzed and referenced across various platforms. 

Market forces have been shifting rapidly for paper products. While the demand for some paper products has increased (paper towels and toilet tissue), the demand has decreased for other products (newspaper). 

Every penny saved or spent in the paper industry is crucial to the paper mill. The partnership between ABB and ACA aims to reduce the scrap and production costs in paper manufacturing.