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Monday, August 10, 2015

Laboratory Automation Remains Popular

Companies have been automating the production facilities in different ways for decades. In the Paper Industry, automation of the testing lab did not really become popular until the 1980's with the Kajaani Robotest and the Lorentzen & Wettre Autoline.  Since that time, automating the lab has become much more common. In the 1990's and 2000's, as mills reduced head-counts in an effort to lower labor costs and to drive efficiency in the laboratory, automation moved into non-commodity grades and became more prevalent.

Automation does provide two significant benefits to many mills:

  1. More testing data in a shorter period of time over manual testing
  2. More accurate testing because it eliminates the possibility of the manual tester selecting data points that meet target 
One other perceived benefit, is the reduction in the number of people involved in testing. This can take two forms: 1) reduced personnel, or 2) reassignment of personnel to other, higher-value tasks.

In any event, laboratory automation is here to stay. In recent months, there have been a number of PROFILE/Plus test systems installed in the US, including:
  • BASF, Charlotte, NC
  • Boise, Deridder,  LA
  • Boise, Jackson, AL
  • Burrows Paper, Pickens, MS
  • Domtar, Nekoosa, WI
  • GP, Camas, WA
  • Mohawk Paper, Cohoes, NY
  • Neenah Paper, Stevens Pointe, WI
  • Neenah Paper, Neenah, WI
  • Tama Paperboard, Tama, IA
  • West Linn Paper, West Linn, OR

Let us know how automation has effected your facility for the better (or for the worse).