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Borregaard Biorefinery Moves to a Centralized Control Room With the Help of UCDS

Borregaard biorefinery pulp and paper operation in Sarpsborg, Norway, was originally established in 1889. Over the years, significant investments have been made in the facility, including a new pulp-drying machine; new cutting, baling and, reeling equipment; and conversion of the bleaching plant to sulphite pulp. The original digester house, built in the early 1950s, was completely modernized with new stainless steel digesters and a new chemiwasher. As a result of this, the entire pulp line has been either rebuilt or refurbished, which makes the Sarpsborg site the most modern sulfite plant in the world.


In 2001 Borregaard started on the route to gather operations from all its different process units into one centralized control room with a common Human-Machine Interface (HMI) for all operators. At that time, the company purchased a new DCS to operate a new recovery boiler. The plan was to operate this boiler, together with oil/electrical boilers, an SO2 boiler, and water/wastewater treatment systems, from a common control room and operator interface. Experience gathered from this pilot project, together with the challenge of reducing operational costs, caused Borregaard to undertake a reorganization of all its operations.

This included upgrading their legacy automation systems to a new DCS and upgrading their PLC based systems to a common automation platform. In 2002, Borregaard installed two new systems at the Sarpsborg facility in order to standardize control systems for its water treatment plant, boiler house and recovery boiler. This was the beginning of a five-year project focused on centralizing process automation under a single control center. The goal was to reduce complexity and increase productivity throughout the production operation.

The key project requirements included:

  • Ability to standardize on a platform that afforded flexibility and increased reliability and efficiency
  • Centralized control room with common operator interface
  • New state-of-the-art automation system to reduce the number of required resources
  • Enhanced HMI to help operators perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively

They started, Karlsen said, in 2001 with a project to re-design the eight control rooms in their former paper and pulp mill and see what synergies and combinations could be achieved. By 2008, they were ready to propose to management that they combine the eight control rooms into one. They proposed this would require fewer console operators, improve training and simulation with less administrative overhead, and produce a uniform organizational focus on production.

Right away, Karlsen said, they knew they needed to start with cultural change. They even negotiated a pilot agreement with the union to permit them to try new methods and modes of operation. They also knew from the start they needed to institute a rigorous MOC (management of change) procedure. “You can ask me about migration,” Skjeltorp said, “I know a lot about that now.”

One of the consultants they worked with was Ian Nimmo of User Centered Design Services in Phoenix, Ariz. Nimmo helped them put together a design plan for a consolidated central control room. The Borregaard engineers produced a control room design with eight control stations, one for each plant unit, and a video wall that was intended to replicate the analog “panel wall” of the 1960s – to provide the situational awareness that operators need. “You have to do the design of the HMI first,” Skjeltorp said, “Because it is very easy to buy the wrong stuff when designing the consoles.” The Borregaard management’s dream is for the control system to consist of two buttons: “start” and “stop” with an option to remove the “stop” button. “We’re not quite there yet,” Skjeltorp said.

The mill’s process control network employs a Distributed Server Architecture (DSA) to consolidate operator consoles across their multiple systems. It enables global access to points, alarms, interactive operator control messages, and history data across the different systems, eliminating the need for database duplication and gateways.

Borregaard’s new centralized control center utilizes HTML as the native display format to provide access to process graphic displays. The use of an open, industry standard file format reduces engineering time while allowing displays to be reused between systems.


As part of the enhanced HMI design based Abnormal Situation Management (ASM®) Consortium guidelines (founded by Ian Nimmo) level one overview displays provide operators and operations management with a view of abnormal operating conditions (often as large screen displays). Level two overview displays contain the positions control room personnel frequently use in specific operating situations (e.g., startup/shut down or normal stable production). Level three displays include traditional PI&D graphics showing every detail of the process and related instrumentation. Level four detail displays, faceplates and pop-ups provide the details of devices, group starts, etc.

Our new Digital Video Manager (DVM) installation includes 100 analog cameras connected to 14 different matrixes. Camera signals are converted to digital streams, which are then distributed through the Local Area Network (LAN). The consoles not only show live video from locations throughout the mill, but also provide the ability to switch cameras, and pan, tilt or zoom the camera to focus in on a particular area. This allows the mill to extend its remote monitoring capabilities and integrate video stream and analytics with process control applications. Additionally, it enables operators to observe hazardous or inaccessible areas from a distance and detect events beyond traditional sensor capabilities. They can even monitor workers and validate potential environmental and safety incidents.

Since 2001, Borregaard has gone through various installation phases of its automation system upgrade. The company established a mill-wide standard that handled continuous upgrades and defined a vertical migration strategy enabling it to implement new technology without any production loss. More than 20,000 control loops are currently managed from the mill’s centralized control center, while the number of console operators has been reduced from 12 to 6 per shift with the potential for further reductions. A stepwise transfer of operators into the new control room proved to be effective. Operators with pilot training quickly became accustomed to the new surroundings and adapted to the updated control system. There is increased interaction between personnel who have a better process understanding of the entire plant, and managers now have quick access to mill operation status. They have plans for future improvements, focusing on alarm management and using new graphical objects for problem detection so operators can predict problems before alarms activate.