With Nidec Leroy-Somer, Ahlstrom-Munksjö consolidates its attachment to the local economy and wins export markets


Meeting market expectation, keeping at the head of the pack of innovators in its field, and always serving its customers better. To keep pace with its order book and pursue its development, the Ahlstrom Specialties plant in Saint-Séverin in Charente has recently been expanded. This allows it to play its part fully in the dynamics of its employment catchment area. The plant comprises four complete manufacturing lines, and all four are equipped with Nidec Leroy-Somer motors.

Ahlstrom-Munksjö is a producer of fibre-based materials and innovative and ecological papers. Headquartered in Finland, the group employs 800 members of staff and operates 45 production units across 14 countries. 

In France, its Saint-Séverin site specialises in the production of parchment paper. Its clients span across the sectors in the food industry, electronics and aeronautics. 

To set the scene, picture a rectilinear machine, several meters wide and high, and around 100m long. At one end of the machine lies a spool unwinder from which emerges a strip of paper 2-3m wide, and measuring just several tons of microns thick. This strip of paper then passes between hundreds of steel rollers, which convey the paper strip while ensuring that it remains at the correct tension along the production line. As it zig-zags through the machine, the paper strip covers a total distance of more than 200m, moving at a speed of several meters per second. 

The sheet begins at the start of the line where is it being unwound to being wound onto a drum at the end of the line the paper travels, in the course of manufacture, at high speed between the steel rollers through four production stations aligned over a distance of 100m. In this machine, the transverse rollers serve to propel the paper strip and regulate its tension along a managed production run. 

...with real finesse
The synchronisation of the rotation of these rollers is one of the keys to success. The slightest unexpected speed deviation with any one of the rollers would cause the paper strip in production to tear, with an impact on the production costs. To manufacture high-quality paper, it takes fine-scale control, in the heart of the machine while manufacturing progresses, of parameters such as humidity level and porosity. Just as important is to ensure operational uniformity of the motors and geared motors involved in rotating the drive rollers. 

Maintaining control over production facilities 
The Ahlstrom Specialties plant has chosen to design and manufacture its machine itself, and to draw on local players in this endeavour. 

Gérard Giry, maintenance and engineering manager at Ahlstrom Specialties, said: "We take great care with the quality of our products and with controlling our costs. We need to have complete control over our production line." 

As is the case in so many specialised or sensitive fields, developing machines on site is an "efficient" way of maintaining control over production facilities, so as to ensure effective management of their maintenance and developing innovation. 

This is where Nidec Leroy-Somer comes in. It brings technical performance of its electromechanical drive solutions, particularly the CB3000 range of geared motors. Yet the engineers of Ahlstron-Munksjö also selected this manufacturer for its reactivity.

SEFI, the French distributor specialised in the field of power transmission, weighed significantly in its favour, with its reputation in the factory environment, in dealings with new works and maintenance managers, and with production managers. It should also be pointed out that the efficiency of the Nidec Leroy-Somer Assembly Centre is recognised in the profession. The service proposed – which incidentally has no equivalent on the market – allows this manufacturer of electric motors and alternators to support its clients, partners and distributors with the service that the latter themselves provide daily to users.

Giry continued: "Since becoming a part of Nidec, Leroy-Somer has been able to demonstrate even more attentiveness to the express needs of its clients. The manufacturing og high-quality, hi-tech paper requires us being able to ensure high precision in the automation systems, on the scale of our machines, combined with great finesse."

In the course of its production, a 2.5m-wide strip of paper passes through four broad stages: coating, drying, finishing, rolling. This strip of paper goes through the various stages on its production line over a distance of around 100m. The 200m paper sheet enters this line at one end. A roll of paper (weighing some 3 tonnes) is wound in at the other end (35 km of paper per drum). In all, it takes dozens of rotation axes that need to be controlled with the highest degree of finesse and synchronisation. The drive rollers (there are approximately 180 on the line) must all ensure the same travel speed for the paper to prevent it tearing.

About the technical solution
Compabloc 3000 geared motors with parallel gears from Nidec Leroy-Somer are used to adapt the speed of the electric motor to that of the driven machine. The full range comprises 10 different sizes. Among the technical characteristics of this family of geared motors, the following in particular stand out: a rated output torque of between 10 N.m and 14,500 N.m, a power output ranging from 0.06-110 kW, reduction ratios of between 1.16 and 252, and high efficiency of between 95% and 98%. It should also be noted that these geared motors are reversible. This equipment is also appreciated for its quiet running.

The manufacturer's solutions have been present at industries where ebergy needs to be produced and movement transmitted. Backed by this wealth of experience, the engineers and technicians of this French company provide solutions for the most varied of applications. What is more, thanks to its design offices, it is able to work alongside its customers in the heart of their business from the earliest design stages of the applications and products. In this way, Nidec Leroy-Somer can adapt and customise its product ranges by incorporating the requirements of the customer specifications or processes (control, self-diagnostic, communication, automation, monitoring, etc.), the requirements of the working environment (humidity, corrosion, high temperature, explosive atmospheres, etc.), the machine function constraints (handling, pumping, compression, ventilation, etc.), and the industrial 3/4 standards and norms (chemicals, automotive, food, paper, naval industries, etc.). Nidec Leroy-Somer has developed new technologies for machine cooling, high speeds, electromagnetic compatibility, reduced noise and vibrations, surface treatment, mechanical resistance of materials, and the coating and insulation of windings, to constitute an incomparable wealth of solutions.