P3 7-8/2021 en

GKD Group

New Corrugator Belt Exceeds High Expectations

Concepts & Solutions

“The results speak for themselves,” says Irene Lopez, Director Sales & Sourcing at Finsa Filtros Industriales S.L., distribution partner of the GKD Group (GKD) in Spain for 30 years. Within just six months, the new corrugator belt Conducto® 3322 from GKD was sold twelve times over during its market launch in Spain and Portugal. It has been installed in four systems belonging to renowned corrugated board manufacturers and is already far exceeding their expectations. In addition to significantly higher air permeability, corrugated board quality, and productivity than was achieved with previous belts, customers claim that the GKD corrugator belt also impresses with up to 50 percent savings in drive energy.

Largely responsible for the rapid launch success is Corrugator S.L., a sought-after partner among corrugated board manufacturers for technical system support. The customers heeded the trusted advice of the technicians and decided to follow their recommendation to switch their corrugator belt. A decision that obviously proved to be the right one: Many of these customers have already recommended the Conducto® 3322 within their global company networks.

The Conducto® 3322 was launched on the German market almost two years ago and is used by a series of large corrugated board manufacturers in the double facer section as the top belt and occasionally as the lower belt. Its construction from two-and-a-half-ply hybrid mesh combines an internal structure of polyester monofilaments and bronze wires in the running direction with a warp of staple fiber yarn. In addition, the edge is reinforced with aramid. While conventional belts are up to eight millimeters thick, the Conducto® 3322 has a thickness of just 5.7 millimeters and, at a weight of 3.95 kilograms/square meter, it is also considerably lighter. Despite the low weight, its robust design guarantees the required even pressure for optimal contact between the corrugated board and the heating plates. This stability is due to a special thermosetting, which also avoids unwanted stretching. The key difference from conventional belts, however, is the high air permeability of the Conducto® 3322, which permits fast, full-surface moisture evaporation of the corrugated board. Thanks to the shorter drying time and improved processing quality, the systems can be run at a higher speed. Unlike conventional belts, the new corrugator belt also shows no tendency to clog.

Recommended by experts

The market launch in Spain by Finsa Filtros proved difficult at first, however, recalls Irene Lopez. Potential customers always referred to Corrugator S.L., headed by Victor Ortiz: They didn't want to make such important technical decisions without the corresponding evaluation and advice from the experts. Corrugator S.L. was founded in 1992 by Alfonso Ortiz in Guissona in northeast Spain. It was built on the many years he had spent working for a manufacturer of corrugated board and paper belts. The new company specialized in manufacturer-independent technical support, belt assembly, and repair with 24/7 service. It was also sales partner of a German manufacturer of widely used corrugator belts for many years. Victor Ortiz has been working together with his father in technical support for 20 years and is now the main contact for customers. Extensive knowledge of the market and products make him a valued partner for checking and assessing machine specifications or providing support for production optimization. The special design of the Conducto® 3322 convinced Victor Ortiz immediately: “The belt is really different from all the other belts from other manufacturers.” On the basis of his many years of working with the corrugator belts from GKD's competitors, Victor Ortiz immediately recognized that: “There is no other comparable belt!” That is what won him over as the new exclusive distribution partner for Finsa Filtros and GKD for the Spanish corrugated board market. In order to properly assess the corrugator belt in detail, he visited GKD's ultra-modern production department in Germany. This resulted in an in-depth exchange with the GKD technicians on the belt properties and possible approaches for further development. Meanwhile, Victor Ortiz introduced the Conducto® 3322 to his longstanding regular customers and new interested parties. With his profound knowledge of the relevant system landscape and production requirements, he quickly knew to convince companies from reputable groups such as International Paper, Saica, Petit, or Font Packaging, as well as independent corrugated board manufacturers like Mora Y Goma or Xuker ASC 21 S.L. of the new belt. The robustness and openness of the belt and the faster processing that these allow are unique in Victor Ortiz's opinion. According to the expert, another advantage of the Conducto® 3322 is the effective dissipation of electrostatic charge. “The customers can see the bronze filaments and we can prove dissipation using test devices.”

High pressure to succeed when switching

These are arguments that also motivated Ricardo Pereira, Industrial Manager of Saica Pack Ovar, Portugal, to consider changing providers. With an annual production of 90 million square meters of corrugated board, the company based in Ovar in the north of Portugal is one of the biggest manufacturers on the highly competitive and demanding Portuguese market. For the production of its large portfolio, Saica Pack uses a 120-meter-long corrugated board production system from Medesa (wet-end) and Fosber (dry-end), which produces up to 250 meters of corrugated board per minute. The eighteen-meter-long and 2.74-meter-wide double facer section is an interfic system with shoes. Major customers include a Swedish furniture store and Portugal's leading wine wholesaler. Although the factory in Ovar hadn't been a customer of Corrugator S.L., Ricardo Pereira asked Victor Ortiz for help with an urgent problem: In the production of a new coated paper, there were significant quality problems and high levels of waste with the old belt that had been used for many years. This paper is produced in all types and grammages. Due to the low permeability, however, it was hard for the moisture to escape, as the corrugator belt that had previously been used had insufficient permeability. To bring the paper onto the market quickly, however, a reliable alternative needed to be found for production as quickly as possible. Due to his many years of experience – especially with the belt used previously – all hopes were placed in Victor Ortiz to find a suitable solution.

Test passed with flying colors

He presented the Conducto® 3322 and recommended testing it for a week. If the result didn't meet Saica Pack's expectations, the old belt would be refitted free of charge. “For a corrugated board factory that has been working with one type of belt for years, such a change is no easy decision,” explains Ricardo Pereira. As a belt can affect all parameters of the system such as glue, glue application, temperature, etc. and these then need to be completely reset, this involves a risk that should not be underestimated. “For us, the risk was particularly great because our goal was a better quality corrugated board. However, we had to take the risk because of the quality problem with our new product,” recalls Pereira. In installing the new belt, Corrugator S.L. quickly proved that it had been the right decision. “The belt allows us to produce this new corrugated board in the required high quality, so we are adapting all parameters for the new belt,” was the verdict announced at Saica Pack in Portugal after a short time. Ricardo Pereira is also greatly satisfied in all other respects: “The special belt design with a bronze filament ensures that the electrostatic charge of the belt is safely dissipated. Just by changing the top belt alone, we have reduced our energy consumption by 20 percent.” He expects to be able to double this reduction again by replacing the lower belt with the GKD belt. “We hadn't reckoned with that, it was a very positive bonus,” says Ricardo Pereira. Due to the greater permeability of the belt, it was also possible to cut glue consumption in the double gluer by ten percent. “Our quality goal was to maintain the evenness of the corrugated board, because it was good. We also achieved this flatness with the new belt, along with these savings, too.” Add to this the significant increase in productivity from the Conducto® 3322, as Ricardo Pereira calculates it: “With the new belt, we were able to increase the operating speed for the new paper from 120 meters/minute to 180 meters/minute, which is an increase of 50 percent!”

Better plannability through comprehensive service

Yet it is not only the new belt and the results achieved with it that justify the extremely positive conclusion. “I find it important to talk about the service, too,” says Ricardo Pereira. In the past, the old belt lost the properties it displayed when it was installed after a time. When questioned, the previous belt supplier always told him that the only way to test the belt's degree of permeability was to pour water onto it and count the seconds until it ran through. Victor Ortiz, on the other hand, measures the permeability of the corrugator belt using a testing device, enabling long-term plannability of belt change and maintenance costs within the scope of regular inspection visits. “This is very important to us, as in the past, the first indicator we had that the belt needed to be changed soon was the poor quality of the corrugated board,” says Ricardo Pereira. “This service from Corrugator S.L. is very, very good for us!” Saica Pack in Ovar produces two million meters of corrugated board per week. “We are still testing and are waiting to see how the belt performs in the next six months,” says the Industrial Manager. He is not the only one filled with optimism by the guarantee of 50 million running meters for the GKD belt given by Finsa Filtros. While he is already thinking about replacing the lower belt with a Conducto® 3322, several other factories in the Saica Group have already expressed an interest in this belt. “Without the experience and knowledge of Corrugator S.L. and the customers' trust in this competence, it would not have been possible to launch the new corrugator belt onto the market so quickly,” says Irene Lopez from Finsa Filtros. The quality of the corrugated board produced with the Conducto® 3322 and the savings and improvements in productivity that can be made will accelerate further market penetration accordingly. As will the close exchange between customers, Victor Ortiz, Finsa Filtros, and the production and development departments at GKD. The advantages of this are clear for Ricardo Pereira: “The cooperation with Corrugator and the new belt are the best way to serve our customers.”