Valmatics 4.0: Always easy – and flexible when required

The development of many sawmills is moving towards sawing more dimensions and qualities, which places increased demands on reliable system support. It has made the in-built simulator an even more important component of Valmatics 4.0, which now has a full simulator support for all types of drying models.
"When the user sees that the right quality can be achieved by using the simulator, it will of course be easier to lean against it next time the conditions change. Poor quality lumber should never come out of a Valmatic kiln", says Thomas Wamming, Development Manager at Valutec.

What has today evolved into a unique and world-leading tool for lumber drying started as a research project at the Finnish VTT (Finnish Technological Research Centre). Early versions of the simulator were used in parallel with the existing control systems on the market at the time. And it was used sparingly, the focus was still on the experience-based knowledge of each sawmill’s operators.

But a big step was taken almost 20 years ago when Valutec bought the rights and calculation models for the simulator and began to develop it together with the control system, with the ambition to integrate the simulator with the control system.

"It was extensive work. While we wanted to steer towards the increased use of the simulator, we needed to retain the ability to create schedule banks where experience-based schedules could be inserted in. We feel that the need has decreased over time", says Thomas.

Lean against the simulator
Today it is increasingly common for new drying schedules to be created directly in the simulator.
"Operators are less afraid of their schedule banks anymore, and it's good proof of use for the simulator. It simply wouldn’t be used if it didn’t work well", says Thomas.

With the new generation of progressive kilns, with individual climate control in each zone, entry into the market has increased the need for simulator support. In a progressive kiln, the batch spends a short time in each zone, and there may be different schedules for each individual batch. Manually creating all these schedules is very time-consuming and almost impossible. In Valmatics 4.0, the simulators are capable of calculating and monitoring these relatively short cycles. This means that there is a reduced need to monitor the running process and the operator can devote time to quality improvements such as participation in saw planning and sampling.

New calculation engine
Valmatics 4.0 is also equipped with a new simulator calculation engine where each kiln is considered to be a zone – whether it is a batch kiln, traditional kiln or a progressive kiln. This creates the conditions for efficient control of all types of lumber kilns.
"We've been working on this over the last three years. It has been about refining and updating the mathematics, bringing in new knowledge and also adapting the control system for reality as it is today at the sawmills”, says John Karbin, Automation Manager at Valutec.

The focus for Valmatics was on configuration and flexibility. In Valmatics 4.0 it has instead shifted to simplifying the process as far as possible, but not too simple - not entirely unlike Albert Einstein’s well-known saying.

In 2019, Valmatics 4.0 will have its global launch, which is a huge difference compared with the starting points for the previous system.
"At that time we had almost no control systems outside the Nordic region. There are now Valmatics all over the world. It does of course mean that things are different from our perspective as a supplier. The system must operate across all markets. However, working with lumber drying in different ways in different countries has also given us new knowledge and new methods of approach, and we have taken those onboard for Valmatics 4.0”, concludes John.



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