Georgia-Pacific partners with ANDRITZ to invest in boiler operator safety

Even in a modern Kraft pulp mill, some continuous processes still require regular human intervention. Around the black liquor recovery boiler, such work can be physically demanding and can carry inherent risks.

Chemicals flow out of the recovery boiler furnace in the form of 2,000 oF liquid smelt.  The lava-like smelt flows down open troughs known as spouts, and the smelt in these spouts has a tendency to solidify and clog.  Mill operators must then manually clean out the spouts, while working on the hot and unpredictable smelt deck.

ANDRITZ has been developing solutions toward an “Operator-Free Smelt Deck”.  The centerpiece of this concept is the Smelt Spout Robot, used to mechanically clean smelt spouts.  Based on the time spent on the smelt deck, ANDRITZ estimates a 92% safety risk reduction by using the robot to clean the smelt spouts, and more yet when the multifunctional robots are utilized for additional tasks such as smelt sampling.

Leaders within Georgia-Pacific recognized the inherent safety risk of their process and turned to ANDRITZ for an engineered solution.  ANDRITZ designed a customized system to fit around existing spout deck equipment, which could be installed during a routine outage.  In October of 2023, the Wauna Mill commissioned the first Smelt Spout Robot system within Georgia-Pacific’s fleet.

This is the eighth ANDRITZ Smelt Spout Robot system supplied around the world since 2019.

“The project was successful. Automation of manual functions around the recovery boiler is the right direction. Spout deck safety has increased, which was one of the main targets.”

Olli Kujanpaa

GP Center of Excellence

“The robots have been pretty sweet…very little interaction at this point, which is ideal. The project is looking like a win!”

Tony Akin

Utility Operator - GP Wauna