Globally, companies are seeking opportunities to reduce waste and the carbon footprint of their products. This has increased demand for environmentally responsible packaging, and the manufacturing company Futamura has become the world’s largest producer of sustainable cellulose packaging films, including their leading NatureFlex™ range.
The production of sustainable films requires precise monitoring and control of process conditions. Highly accurate temperature and humidity measurement is therefore essential, particularly during the film drying process and when finished products are stored.
Futamura UK uses Vaisala measurement equipment across their site, including Vaisala HUMICAP® humidity and temperature transmitters HMT360 in their coating towers inside their conditioners. The coating towers contain solvents which are flammable, so the products used in these areas must be certified for the Ex environment. The Vaisala HMT360 transmitters, now superseded by the ATEX-certified HMT370EX, are intrinsically safe, making them ideal for use in hazardous areas such as these.
Vaisala measurement instruments can also be found on Futamura UK’s casting machines, installed in the dryer ducting, measuring humidity and temperature. The Vaisala humidity and temperature meter Series HMT330 is designed to provide highly accurate measurements in demanding industrial applications. These transmitters control a valve which manages the amount of steam that goes into the dryers, allowing the humidity to be maintained at the drying set-point needed for each type of film. Moisture content is a significant factor in the properties of the final film, so accurate control is important to ensure product quality and minimise waste. The HMT330 is an older model, so, seeking to future-proof their measurement instrumentation, Futamura contacted Vaisala for advice.
A member of Vaisala’s technical sales team therefore visited Futamura’s UK site in Wigton, Cumbria to demonstrate the benefits of switching to Vaisala’s Indigo platform, and to discuss the options with Electrical Engineering Chargehand, David Carr, and Technical Engineers David Mansergh and Chris Reid.
“We described the applications for the HMT330 series instruments and the Vaisala representative suggested we try the Indigo520 display with a relative humidity and temperature probe HMP5,” explains David Carr. “We were more than happy with the suggestion. His vast product knowledge and expertise in engineering and process systems was a huge benefit in the decision-making process. He also went through the calibration process and explained how to set up the equipment with our electrical engineers. Vaisala’s service and support have been first class – they have gone above and beyond to help us.”
The Indigo520 can connect with two separate probes simultaneously and has a simple, clear, intuitive touchscreen display. Futamura particularly appreciates the screen size and easy-to-read graphs, as well as the ability to swap out probes for calibration. It has also been advantageous that the new HMP5 probes work mechanically in the same way as the previous devices, with which they were already very familiar.
The key benefit of using Vaisala’s measurement instruments in Futamura’s manufacturing process is that they enable accurate control of the production process, which ensures consistent product quality and reduces waste.
Summarising David Carr said: ” Futamura has been using Vaisala measurement instruments for many years helping us ensure the quality of our sustainable packaging films, and we will continue to do so in the future. When you find products, and a company, that you can trust, it makes good business sense to continue the relationship. As a plant we like to standardise because it makes spares management and equipment replacement simpler. It’s safe to say that Vaisala is our brand of choice because of product reliability and ease of installation and operation.”
Vaisala is a global leader in weather, environmental, and industrial measurements. Building on over 85 years of experience, Vaisala provides observations for a better world, with space-proof technology even exploring Mars and beyond. We are a reliable partner for customers around the world, offering a comprehensive range of innovative observation and measurement products and services. Headquartered in Finland, Vaisala employs over 2,000 professionals worldwide and is listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki stock exchange.
Futamura is a Japanese-owned business with production plants in Japan, the UK, and the USA. The company employs around 2,000 people and produces high-quality packaging films, fibrous casings, non-woven fabrics, activated carbon, and phenolic laminated sheets.