Tissue Creping: An Interview with Jack Allen

I sat down with Kadant’s Jack Allen, tissue applications manager, to better understand the tissue creping process and unique industry challenges. Jack’s work at Kadant focuses primarily on providing training to sales and service associates about the chemistry used in tissue manufacturing and supporting field trials of the new CeraEdge™ creping blade.

Jack AllenV: What is your experience in the tissue industry?
J: I have been fully immersed in tissue manufacturing since the mid-1990s. I was involved in the first large specialty chemical bidding that happened with Scott Paper Company around 1994. That was a groundbreaking step in that day, and many paper manufacturers have since followed suit. During my 13 years living in Wisconsin, I conducted business in all but one of the 29 tissue mills in the state resulting in broad exposure to the tissue market. Prior to joining Kadant, I spent eight years working as the North American creping specialist for Buckman. I participated in two greenfield mill startups, the ATMOS manufacturing process, and new product development. A patent was granted on one of the new applications.

V: What is tissue creping and what factors are involved?
J: Tissue creping is an operation near the end of the tissue manufacturing process where bulk, stretch, absorbency, and softness are created in the tissue. Tissue creping is vitally important when these characteristics are key attributes of the final product. Technically, everything can be a factor and affect the tissue creping process. Tissue manufacturing from the time the sheet is first formed until you have a jumbo roll of tissue takes less than 2 seconds. The process is simple in many respects, but to get high quality tissue and meet market expectations, you must push the creping envelope. Doctoring systems are crucial to producing a high quality product and not damaging the Yankee shell in today’s high-speed process. The proper chemistry is also a key factor in the process. The variables involved in the creping process are numerous, but if you do not get the doctoring correct, you limit your ability to create a soft and absorbent tissue.

V: What makes proper tissue creping so important?
J: Imagine two metal parts: one is stationary and the other is running at 65 mph; both rubbing against each other. That is doctor creping. As Yankee speeds increase, vibration between the rolls, Yankee, and creping blade will become a more significant factor. If vibration is not controlled, the parts colliding together will damage the Yankee and the surface will need to be refinished.

Yankee grinding typically involves downtime of three to five days. As the Yankee ages and is repeatedly ground, the steam pressure rating can be reduced resulting in lower operating steam pressure, reduced speed, and less production. If the process is not stable, the Yankee can wear out in 15 to 20 years. New Yankees take 12 to 18 months to build and are expensive. When maintained and managed properly, the Yankee could be expected to operate for more than 30 years.

V: Have you had any unusual or unique experiences while working with tissue creping?
J: I have had a lot of very interesting days in mills. Probably one of the most fun was with a tissue maker that was not satisfied with his creping chemistry. The mill allowed us to experiment with our chemistry and we formulated a new adhesive as the machine was running. Once we defined the new formulation, we worked with manufacturing to get it commercialized and I made up bins on site until it was commercially available. I call that product innovation in a nutshell!

V: What do you hope the reader takes away from this interview?
J: That tissue creping is impacted by a number of variables and is a critically important aspect of tissue manufacturing. In my new role at Kadant, I believe I can help our tissue customers and our sales team be even more productive and effective based on spending most of my working life in paper mills experiencing the good and the not so good.