In 2020, Sofidel added 120,000 tons a year to its production capacity in the USA with two Toscotec AHEAD 2.0L paper machines in 5,500 millimetre format with an operating speed of 2,000 metres a minute. Toscotec has delivered a turnkey product for the tissue-making area of Sofidel America’s integrated paper mill in Inola, Oklahoma.
Since the launch of two new lines, Sofidel has been manufacturing premium quality tissue paper, in compliance with its rigorous quality standards, and has maintained a high level of operating efficiency, fully benefiting from the energy and environmental efficiency of Toscotec’s AHEAD lines, which feature the TT SYD Steel Yankee Dryer and high energy recovery TT Hoods.
In this interview, Simone Capuano, the Executive VP, Operations & Supply Chain, of Sofidel America Corp. discloses the strategy underpinning this investment and tells us what Sofidel has achieved so far at its Inola production base.
Sofidel America’s new integrated production base in Inola: what were the reasons for this expansion and for choosing Toscotec’s technology?
The construction of an integrated plant in Inola (Oklahoma) is an important part of the growth strategy that Sofidel has implemented in the USA since its arrival in the country in 2012. After Circleville (Ohio), this is the second greenfield investment of our Group in the USA, aimed at increasing our production capacity and our geographical coverage, which means having plants close to our customers - in this case, specifically, we are in the southern region - in order to improve our service and contain logistical costs. In this context, Toscotec was the right choice, because its technology is efficient both from the energy and environmental points of view, and because of the experience and flexibility they have gained in our sector.
Toscotec was your turnkey supplier for paper mill production on the Inola project. Was it helpful for you to have a single company as your reference point for this part of the supply?
Building a new paper mill from scratch is never an easy task, both for technical and organizational reasons. In Oklahoma, like everywhere else in the USA, we have been able to count on excellent collaboration from local institutions and partners. We certainly found it very helpful to have a single supplier as our contact for the paper mill production part, especially since part of the project was carried out in the first and most complicated stage of the COVID-19 emergency, with all the problems that implied.
Are you satisfied with Toscotec’s management at this time of global emergency?
Even though we had to face unpredictable and complicated situations, Toscotec's flexibility, contribution and spirit of collaboration have never been lacking. We appreciated their dedication and problem-solving skills.
Once Toscotec’s machines came on line, did you see an increase in the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) compared to processing reels from other production sites, as you were doing before? Has converting efficiency improved? If yes, why?
Having an integrated plant has already improved production efficiency. Furthermore, the AHEAD 2.0L machines used on our lines represent a tried and tested technology that did not require any fine-tuning. As we expected, they were immediately found to be in line with the needs of our customers. The fact that we could count on reels with a larger diameter and constant quality has definitely allowed us to increase the efficiency of our converting lines.
What grades are you currently manufacturing on PM1 and PM2? What is your assessment of product quality?
The quality standard is high and meets our customers’ requirements and, at the same time, it allows us to achieve excellent performances at the plant in terms of energy efficiency and optimization of raw material use. This is in line with Sofidel's commitment to reconcile the market and consumption needs with those of sustainability. On the two machines, we are producing various grades both for toilet tissues, with particular attention to Super Soft papers, and kitchen towels.
Are you satisfied with the specific consumption of chemical products per ton of paper produced that is being recorded by the two machines?
Yes, we are also recording significant improvements in this area, although the optimizing of the entire system must continue.
Overall, how would you describe the cooperation with Toscotec?
A positive cooperation built on hard work and mutual commitment to continuous improvement.