Open discussion: Upgrading to the latest technology for nonwovens production

ANDRITZ retrofit expert Damien Gamat and Global Service Director Nicolas Pirard-Branche discuss about the possibilities for nonwoven producers for retrofits and rebuilds

In a fast-growing market such as nonwovens, producers are always looking for ways to increase production or to enter new, more lucrative markets. There are two ways to do this; invest a lot of money and time in a completely new line, or alternatively opt for a less expensive high-quality upgrade or retrofit on existing lines. ANDRITZ makes the alternative a very attractive possibility.


Damien Gamet

Service Upgrade Expert, ANDRITZ Nomwoven & Textile

since 2012 at ANDRITZ

What current trends are you noticing in retrofits and rebuilds in the nonwovens industry?

Pirard-Branche: We are seeing an increasing trend in retrofits and rebuilds currently, mainly because demand for nonwovens is changing rapidly due to market environment our customers are looking for all sorts of ways to increase as well as diversify their production. With an upgrade, rebuild or retrofit, customers can get that “quick win” they are looking for.

Also, we are finding that our nonwovens customers are exploring new markets and looking to make new, more profitable products. This is driving demand for the installation of technology they haven’t had on their lines before.

Why choose an upgrade or retrofit over the installation of a new nonwovens line?

Gamet: Well, the first and most obvious reason is cost. The cost of a new line can run into millions, particularly when you take into consideration the setting up of a new line and all the extras involved, the building, utilities and facilities. On the other hand, upgrades and retrofits can also be up and running faster, some of our upgrades take less than 6 months.”

The fact is when we are upgrading or retrofitting, we are not simply replacing the old with the new, we are bringing in the very latest, proven process technology that has been developed and worked on over years, bringing it into the latest modern dimension, able to compete with the best in new lines. So really it is a winning option.

What are the limitations when it comes to upgrading nonwoven lines?

Pirard-Branche: Well, actually there are very few limitations. Some of our customers have lines that are more than 30 years old, and after an upgrade and rebuild, they have the same productivity as the latest in new lines. What we do is completely renew the technology within the existing machine frames, using as much of the line’s infrastructure that is already there.

Where does a customer start when it comes to exploring the option of an upgrade or retrofit?

Pirard-Branche:  The ability to offer these services to our customers stems from the deep knowledge we have here at ANDRITZ of all the processes when it comes to nonwoven production. We have an extensive worldwide network and have a very open approach. We encourage our customers to talk to us about their ideas of either improving productivity or entering into new markets with new products. We have all the expertise at our competence centers such as our one at Grenoble in France where customers can visit and see the latest technology and products being made on our pilot lines.

When it comes to a major upgrade – for instance modernizing a decades-old line to bring it up to the performance of a new one – we start by having in-depth discussions with the customer on site analyzing the existing line. This usually involves two or three visits by our experienced experts. Once we have agreed what is exactly needed by the customer, our design engineers get to work and show exactly what can be done by using 3D modelling, as well as examples of the final result the customer can expect. Our core business here at ANDRITZ is the knowledge of our people.

Gamet: It is good to note that we don’t just concentrate on ANDRITZ-supplied machines, we can carry out upgrades and retrofits on any brand of nonwoven lines.

Does ANDRITZ give a guarantee that the customer will get exactly what they are looking for when it comes to an upgrade.

Gamet: Absolutely, in fact performance guarantees are one of our differentiation points. Any customer that is has the desire to invest in a line has to have guarantees to enable the return on investment.


Nicolas Pirard-Branche

Global Service Director, ANDRITZ Nonwoven & Textile

since 2012 at ANDRITZ

Does ANDRITZ give a guarantee that the customer will get exactly what they are looking for when it comes to an upgrade.

Gamet: Absolutely, in fact performance guarantees are one of our differentiation points. Any customer that is has the desire to invest in a line has to have guarantees to enable the return on investment.

What assistance does ANDRITZ offer when it comes to customers entering new nonwoven markets with new products?

Pirard-Branche: Once again this is where our knowledge and expertise at ANDRITZ comes in. Behind the scenes at our technology centers we have a technical and R&D department where our experts spend all their time creating and analyzing new products in labs and on pilot machines. Here we can take any of our customers ideas and turn them into prototypes on a smaller scale before assisting them to scale up into full production. We cover all the areas of expertise at our technology centers, and even deal with final end users in gaining knowledge of the latest products.

Our experts know the market implicitly when it comes to trends and the latest product potential, and we are happy to share that knowledge with our customers who want to enter new markets.

Away from actual line upgrades and rebuilds, what other services and products does ANDRITZ offer that can give customers quick wins?

Pirard-Branche: We have a variety of plug and play components that are designed to make sure that customer lines, no matter how old they are, can continue producing. One area of significant importance is replacing older electrical systems. This can be a major problem as some of these systems are so old that the manufacturers no longer make spare parts. We have come to the aid of customers with ‘obsolescence kits”, which we have developed to totally renew electrical components on nonwoven lines. For this we literally make no changes to the line at all and simply renew all the electrical components and bring them right up to the most modern available. This immediately gives our customers more confidence when it comes to possible downtimes.

Gamet: We are very much focused on the fact that our customers need their machines running, so first of all when we do an upgrade or retrofit, we make sure that we keep the downtime of our customer lines to the bare minimum. Sometimes, we can even do an upgrade in less than 24 hours. In the case of obsolescence kits this really is about keeping customers line running by upgrading to the very latest in electronics.

What is new from ANDRITZ when it comes to the latest addons and plug ins for nonwoven lines?

Pirard-Branche: One of the latest developments we are offering to our customers is ANDRITZ Metris, which is our digitalization package for nonwoven lines. Digitalization is becoming more and more important in production on nonwoven lines as it allows a customer to gather data and manage machine efficiencies across the whole line when it comes to speed and energy use. Metris is the ideal package as not only is it the very latest in digital technology, but it comes complete with ANDRITZ’s in-depth knowledge of the nonwoven process.

Customized Solutions

All equipment in ANDRITZ’s extensive nonwovens portfolio has the option for upgrading or retrofitting. For instance, in Spunlace full productivity improvements are possible, including increased speed, maintenance savings and energy savings. 

These improvements can be made, for example, by installing the latest energy recovery system from ANDRITZ, the neXecodry, or the latest sliding lintel allowing for major savings in maintenance and downtime. Also, for carding, producers are currently limited with the quality of the web when increasing speed, new upgrades available will allow for consistent quality when speed is increased.

When it comes to needlepunch and calenders, complete upgrades can be carried out, removing dated electrical equipment and improving cleanness. Calenders can also be upgraded by installing new, improved types of roll engraving.

Another latest advancement is the installation of ANDRITZ’s Metris Digitalization Solutions on nonwovens lines and key ancillary equipment. This latest technology in IIoT is revolutionizing production efficiencies by providing the ability to measure and manage data from nonwoven lines.

  • Brochure ANDRITZ Nonwoven global service PDF : 3.1 MB
  • Leaflet SYNERGY™ service agreements PDF : 4.2 MB
  • Brochure Metris solutions for Nonwoven & Textile 2023 PDF : 4.8 MB
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