Learning Should be a Constant Process
The pulp and paper industry is vast and highly dispersed, and its ecosystem made up of companies that use wood as their raw material to produce pulp, paper, cardboard and other pulp products.
By Stephanie Matas
Alessandro Marcio Lira started his professional career at age fourteen, practicing in the chemical industry. After graduating as an Instrumentation Technician, he continued studying engineering for control and automation. His first job was at a pulp and paper company, Cia Suzano de Papel e Celulose. Shortly after, Lira began collaborating with Pöyry, rendering instrumentation, valves, control systems and DCS specialized services for the company. Currently, he is a Automation Project Specialist Consultant for the pulp and paper industry, dealing with several types of valves including full balls, segmented balls and butterflies. “Depending on the project we are involved in, there are many valves and instruments that need to be individually standardized for plant assembly,” says Lira.
Normally, valve suppliers can be chosen from an Approved Manufacturers List (AML) or be a customer prerogative, says Lira. In both cases, the valve manufacturer must prove its expertise in pulp and paper industry. “There are special valves, like seat valves and scrapers, which are formed from specific materials such as SMO and titanium. An approved manufacturer should have valves that adapt for pressure relieve to work with cryogenic fluid”, he explains, adding that the most common requirement is that the manufacturer’s entire line of valves be capable of withstanding a pressure of up to 300 pounds. “Generally, 150-300 pound pneumatic valves, segmented ball valves and butterfly valves are the main part of the project, but this varies with the specifications of each project,” he explains. Currently involved in to two important projects, Lira says that the time required for the implementation of a project is variable, normally 24 months, depending on its complexity.
Environment impact and reducing fugitive emission are a major concern in the projects in which Lira are involved. “We are committed to building a sustainable industry, so we are careful to choose valves and joints that have a long service life to ensure very low or zero fugitive emissions.” Safety as whole is a critical factor that involves equipment and operators, but also the environment, as by-products of manufacturing process can be harmful and affect the surrounding environment, such as a river, the land and air. “There for the importance of having analyzers in our projects, that continuously evaluate the production process to ensure environmental and regulatory issues are not compromised,” says Lira.
Such concern, he says, applies to greenfield projects but also to plants that are already in operation. “There are plants that were installed in areas close to forests and, later, a city was built nearby. Environmental regulation in Brazil has been changing over time and we must ensure that these plants are in accordance with them,” explains Lira.
Procurement of Valves
Commitment to deadlines is part of the routine of any engineering professional, and according to Alessandro Lira it is necessary to work very hard to meet schedules, but without neglecting cost aspects. “That is why expertise is a very important asset that allow us, as consultants, to offer clients solutions that best fit their business needs,” comments Lira. When asked about the selection of materials and equipment, Lira states that previous experience makes all the difference and this is one of the most important assets that engineering companies offer customers to help them solve their business problems. “Engineers make the specifications, but the warranty comes from the supplier who takes part in defining the materials used. In the case of valves, for example, the supplier is responsible for informing whether a particular material is suitable for a specific application.” Lira points out that vendor software is an important tool to decide which valve is best suited for a given project. However, for very specific situations, he says manual calculation is still the best alternative.
What is Next
Alessandro Lira says he is very proud to be part of Pöyry’s team of collaborators, and contributed in several innovative and sustainable projects, from greenfield plants to cost reduction and capacity expansion, always on schedule, with the quality that made Pöyry a reference in the global engineering and consultancy sectors.
Lira also recognizes the importance of continuous training. “Learning should be constant. I am still learning the best way to define the valve best fit a specific application. That is why the permanent contact with suppliers is very important, as are technical analysis and specialized articles and books. I am always looking for improve my knowledge and share this expertise with the team I work with”.
Looking ahead, Lira says big data in industrial processes is what companies need to achieve the value of their business. “Through digitization, it will be possible to extract the full potential of industrial assets, achieve maximum operational efficiency, improve all aspects of security, all with the aim of achieving the sustainability that companies want,” explains Lira. “Being part of this future, participating in this transformation by collaborating with the company that has been leading this process globally is both very rewarding and challenging, and I am very proud to help build this story,” he concludes.