Thesis for the Degree of Master of Science


Year 2004
Jonna Pikkusaari-Saikkonen

Operations support at the paper mill

Papermaking is a multivariable process with extensive delays. Growing pressure to produce higher quality paper and reduce costs demands better and more reliable operation support systems. The objective of this study was to examine operation support systems and data flows, and their use at a paper mill.

The literary research focuses on usability research, knowledge management and advanced diagnosis methods. It also introduces the latest automation solutions and a few case studies. The latest automation solutions cover the whole production area. They have an open interface and enable smooth, vertical information exchange. Usability focuses on design from a user\'s perspective. Advanced diagnosis methods can be integrated with the systems as add-on solutions. The definition and strategy for knowledge management is not uniform across the industry, but is becoming increasingly important in system development.

The experimental part of the thesis examined the features and use of operation support systems at two paper mills. A dataflow analysis of the paper grade change was also conducted. Automation systems included a variety of solutions from different vendors, which had been used for a variety of different time periods. The most critical and frequently used systems were process control, quality control and monitoring, and production plan systems. Usability was poor, especially when it came to old, text-based systems. The analysis system was also deemed too complicated. They analyze the process using trend analysis, usually done after an abnormal situation has passed. Operators were interested in learning how to use advanced diagnosis methods and were receptive for new information sources.

Only a small portion of automation solution total capacity was used, due to factors such as usability problems, lack of skills, operator social networks and routines acquired throughout long careers. These aspects should be considered when developing systems and usability.

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