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In Beihai, China, Stora Enso has implemented the entire value chain at a single site, from forestry and pulp production through to finished packaging cardboard.

Paper and packaging production

From forest wood to cardboard

In Beihai, China, Stora Enso has implemented the entire value chain at a single site, from forestry and pulp production through to finished packaging cardboard. 

Pulp is primarily made from wood and is the base material for paper. It is thus a logical step for the company to handle the entire value chain, in other words, not just paper production but forestry as well. This vertical integration strategy is being followed by Stora Enso, the second-largest forestry company in the world and one of the largest manufacturers of paper and packaging materials. 

About 50 kilometers outside Beihai, in the southeast of the Chinese province of Guangxi, the Finnish-Swedish conglomerate set up a production mill for special cardboard on a greenfield site. Prior to this, a forest plantation was established covering 90,000 hectares including 72,000 hectares as a dedicated eucalyptus plantation.

Two types of special cardboard are produced there for the local packaging industry: “liquid packaging board” for packaging beverages, and other liquids and folding box board. A decisive factor was that previously as much as 80% of the special cardboard impermeable to liquids needed for the Chinese market had to be imported. This situation changed at the beginning of 2016, with the mill in Beihai now producing 450,000 tons of liquid packaging board and other products per year directly in China. In the final phase, some 1,000 jobs will be created here, along with about 30,000 additional jobs at suppliers and customers in the region.

It all started with the eucalyptus plantation in 2002. Eucalyptus was purposely used because it grows rapidly and is an excellent source of raw material for pulp production. The plantation sets a high standard for sustainable paper production.

This project is a highlight in the cooperation and partnership with Stora Enso.

Energy and drive technology from a single source 

Construction of the paper mill began in 2014 and was completed in early 2016. Since then, production has gradually increased to maximum capacity. Stora Enso wanted to work with a partner with a solid international presence, especially with an excellent reputation for electrical equipment and automation technology. The company was not concerned only about sufficient experience in the paper and pulp industry. A decisive factor was also the ability to guarantee long-term provision of technical service and local availability of spare parts. 

With its Sipaper distributed control system (DCS), Siemens was a particularly suitable choice, especially because the company already had a solid infrastructure and presence throughout China.

The order for Siemens also included solutions for proprietary energy generation and mill-wide power distribution with the required high-, medium-, and low-voltage switchgear, as well as power, and ­distribution transformers. The system was supplemented by an emergency power supply and energy monitoring and control systems. In the area of drives, Siemens supplied an integrated system with over 160 drives, including industry-specific control features. Precisely coordinated low- and medium-voltage motors, frequency converters, and a solution for energy switching and monitoring (ESM) ensure high efficiency and maximum plant availability. 


For Siemens this mega-project has been much more than a traditional customer-supplier relationship. In addition to supplying and installing the elec­trical system and process automation, Siemens assumed responsibility for all the necessary drive and engineering solutions. Siemens was the single-source ­provider of detailed planning, monitoring of the installation, and commissioning of all electrotechnical systems.

Standardized process automation 

With its Sipaper Distributed Control System (DCS), Siemens offers no less than 100 years of industry experience and a portfolio of products and solutions specifically tailored to the pulp and paper industry. At the same time, ever stricter environmental requirements in China are taken into account, along with requirements imposed by global competition. 

The paper industry in particular has to contend with changing demand due to digitalization: while growth in the e-commerce sector is creating an upswing in demand for cardboard and other packaging materials, the importance of paper is notice­ably diminishing due to more widespread digitalized ­communication and information. 

Sipaper offers more than extensive horizontal ­integration through frequency converters, motors, connectors, and gearboxes from a single source. Achieving seamless vertical integration is also a ­considerable advantage, thanks to completely digital automation ranging from field devices and the controller level all the way to manufacturing execution systems (MES). All process control at the new Stora Enso mill is handled by the Simatic PCS 7 process control system.

The automation system controls not only the entire production sequence for pulp and downstream cardboard production, it also regulates the steam turbines, guaranteeing a reliable energy supply for the production mill. Every function in the entire production ­complex is controlled from one central control room.

Reliable partnership

“This project is an important milestone for the Fiber Industry Division of Siemens but is also a highlight in the cooperation and partnership with Stora Enso,” says Engelbert Schrapp, corporate account manager at Siemens, about the outcome. In his view, overall responsibility for the areas of energy and automation as well as the strong presence of the company in China were crucial. “Basically there were no problems. This was the smoothest turnkey project of all time thanks to the close cooperation and long-term commitment of Siemens,” says Schrapp.

Picture credits: GettyImages/HuoGuangLiang, Siemens AG, Shutterstock / L.Kropotov