UPM’s technical marketing and services team helps pulp customers with matters such as refining and total fibre furnish optimization, allowing them to achieve the full potential of pulp. Lili Zhou, Senior Manager, Technical Marketing and Services for APAC region, leads a team of three experts working in close cooperation both with colleagues in other market areas, and UPM’s R&D centres. She says the main responsibilities of the team include answering inquiries concerning product quality, sustainability and production issues, and tasks related to technical marketing, such as webinars, seminars, and conferences.
“Technical marketing events help us strengthen our customers’ trust in our products and their quality,” Zhou says, adding that the team also carries out end use studies to better understand, for example, the end use requirements of tissue products.
Joint development projects which are conducted in close cooperation with customers are an opportunity to benefit from UPM’s inhouse or partners’ R&D facilities to deep dive in advanced troubleshooting, improved product quality or enhanced product portfolio.
New UPM Euca deliveries monitored closely
The new UPM Paso de los Toros pulp mill in Uruguay began operations in April of this year. Its inaugural delivery of UPM Euca pulp was unloaded in the Xilian port of Qingdao in China in July. According to Zhou, customers in China have been looking forward to receiving pulp from the new mill.
“Our team has been thoroughly preparing for the start-up of the mill. In technical marketing and services, our focus is on introducing the technology used at the mill, the design of the production process, and how we have ensured the consistency and identical quality of eucalyptus pulp from both of our mills in Uruguay,” Zhou says.
She notes that the team has closely followed up on the development of product quality at the UPM Paso de los Toros mill during its ramp-up phase and is pleased with the results.
“We can proudly say that quality has reached the expected high level in a short period. In the next phase, we will see how the product performs in customer trials.”
Troubleshooting requires close collaboration
Considering typical questions that the technical marketing and services deal with, Zhou mentions the support provided by the team regarding the evaluation of certain attributes of products and improving quality. When setting out to find, for example, reasons for paper defects or deposits appearing in the paper production process, Zhou highlights UPM’s troubleshooting tool as a value-added service.
“Our Troubleshooting Toolbox is based on data built up by our experienced colleagues at the R&D lab, covering raw materials used in the paper production process. This helps us address the root causes of possible disturbances or quality defects in customer cases,” Zhou explains.
She references a case where a customer experienced deposit issues that affected the runnability of their paper machine. This was solved by following the steps of the troubleshooting process.
“We worked together with the customer collecting deposit samples of most of the raw materials used in their production and analysed them at the UPM Asia R&D Centre in Changshu. This enabled us to find a suitable match between the deposit and a raw material used for packaging production. The customer solved the issue by updating their instructions,” Zhou says.
She points out how the case is a good example of the crucial role of communication and collaboration between UPM and customers.
“In addition to receiving credit for the high level of our advanced laboratory facilities, we regularly get good feedback from customers regarding the efficiency and professionalism of our experts. We are happy to continue working together with our customers and external partners to find even better ways of improving the fibre mix,” Zhou concludes.
Text: Timo Nykänen