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Displaying Articles 1 - 25 of 83
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Week of 25 May 2020: One more view on energy trends
Week of 25 May 2020: One more view on energy trends

Energy is saved by the milliliter, not the liter or dekaliter. In order to do this, you must have everyone looking for the opportunities.

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Week of 18 May 2020: More Energy Trend Problems
Week of 18 May 2020: More Energy Trend Problems

This month, I have been telling you, when it comes to energy trends, what you do not control you cannot predict. Thus, I have been admonishing you to know what you control, control it, and then miserly buy what other energy you may need. I thought I would give you a couple of examples, one new, one old, demonstrating energy matters you cannot predict.

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Week of 11 May 2020: What is predictable in energy trends?
Week of 11 May 2020: What is predictable in energy trends?

In a world where every storage tank, every ocean-going tanker, every cavern or old mine that can be modified for oil storage is full to overflowing, what can we say about energy trends? Add to this the popular public anathema to fossil fuels, and one can find themselves in a tight box with no way virtually no way out. In these times, energy trends become what you can control. What you can control means what you own. It was pretty clear in my Mennonite example last week how they control their energy costs. You, mill manager, have to do the same thing.

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Week of 4 May 2020: When energy is precious
Week of 4 May 2020: When energy is precious

In July of 2018, I received a letter from a gentleman who lives in a Mennonite community in southern Ohio. He had been reading my opinion column in a small southern Ohio town's newspaper for several years. He, and the leaders of the community, liked my viewpoints. They invited me to visit them. We corresponded a bit and I arranged to come see his family and the community in October of that year. I got off the bus (the method of travel he recommended) at another small southern Ohio town and he was there to meet me with a buggy. It took us a couple of hours to make the ten-mile trip from the bus stop to his farm. Our method of propulsion for this buggy journey was, I kid you not, "Rocket"--a small middle-aged black gelding, about thirteen hands high.

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Week of 27 April 2020: The Safety Gulf
Week of 27 April 2020: The Safety Gulf

Safety failures seem to fall into two categories.

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Week of 20 April 2020: Robots mean maintenance safety
Week of 20 April 2020: Robots mean maintenance safety

In the current pandemic, we are seeing grocery stores accelerate their adoption of robots to restock store shelves. Once done, this will never go back to the old ways. The world of maintenance in our pulp and paper mills (and downstream plants) can work the same way.

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Week of 13 April 2020: Lurking Dangers
Week of 13 April 2020: Lurking Dangers

If there is one thing the current COVID-19 crisis should teach us, if taken as an allegorical experience, is that dangers affecting safety are not always out in the open. I've told this story many times before, but perhaps you have not heard it...

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Week of 6 April 2020: How appropriate--it is safety month!
Week of 6 April 2020: How appropriate--it is safety month!

No, I am not going to give you another COVID-19 advisory. You have no doubt already read countless admonishments on that subject. You do need to take them seriously, of course. But at this point, for the literate and sighted part of the population, I say let Darwinism take its course--you have been warned. For the infirm, the weak, the young and the very old -be generous and help them out. What is appropriate, though, in this first week of Safety Month, is to warn you about distractions. I can't think of another time in my nearly seventy years of life that I have ever seen the entire world focused on one subject as it is now. And, admit, it is a distraction. Distractions take our attention off safe practices.

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Week of 30 March 2020: Brave new world: How do you do maintenance with a 6 foot separation between employees?
Week of 30 March 2020: Brave new world: How do you do maintenance with a 6 foot separation between employees?

The first thing that popped into my mind was to dress all your maintenance people in pre-Civil War hoop skirted ball gowns. Although it will maintain the distance, I can think of many other reasons this won't work. For the future, this just emphasizes more predictive maintenance and solid maintenance monitoring. If you know the condition of your equipment and the failure curve it is on, you can plan on how to prepare it in a timely fashion.

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Week of 23 March 2020: Maintenance Contractors need to step up their game
Week of 23 March 2020: Maintenance Contractors need to step up their game

OK, everything today is coronavirus. No matter which way you turn. Reminds me of a year's worth of Reader's Digest that I bought at a flea market years ago. The year was 1944 and nearly every story in every issue of that year was about the war. Well, one might say we are in a war now. If you are a maintenance contractor, likely you need to step up your game.

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Week of 16 March 2020: Ford vs. Ferrari
Week of 16 March 2020: Ford vs. Ferrari

When you look at auto racing, at least 50% of the difference between winners and losers is maintenance. The recent movie, Ford vs. Ferrari, drives this point home. Watch the movie, watch the maintenance. You just may learn something and improve your operations.

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Week of 9 March 2020: What to maintain?
Week of 9 March 2020: What to maintain?

Seems like a simple question, but it is often missed. How do you determine what to maintain? It starts with what you intend to keep. How do you determine what to keep?

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Week of 2 March 2020: Maintenance Again
Week of 2 March 2020: Maintenance Again

“Maintenance Again” is pronounced in many mills with a slight groan and downward inflection in the voice. In many CFO offices, the words “Maintenance Again” are recognized about as easily as any phrase in Klingon. By the way, you can translate “Maintenance Again” to Klingon—it is “leH jatlhqa” so don’t let the person holding the checkbook in your mill get by with feigning ignorance of the necessity of maintenance, no matter what language you use. I have been writing this column for over eighteen years and I have railed against the cheap maintenance managers for nearly fifty years. It is absolutely criminal to not do prescribed maintenance.

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Week of 24 February 2020: Transportation entities must watch their Public Relations
Week of 24 February 2020: Transportation entities must watch their Public Relations

Whether truck, rail, air or jitney, transportation companies often have a public relations problem.

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Week of 17 February 2020: Conveyors are transportation, too!
Week of 17 February 2020: Conveyors are transportation, too!

Throughout my career, I have seen lots of goods moved within many facilities' sites...

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Week of 10 February 2020: Cancer!
Week of 10 February 2020: Cancer!

Expecting a column on transportation here in February, you may have been slightly startled by this week's column title. This is the way cancer strikes, you are going along, minding your own business, planning what you'll do next and cancer rears its ugly head.

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Week of 3 February 2020: What's developed in transportation in the last year?
Week of 3 February 2020: What's developed in transportation in the last year?

We last visited transportation in February of 2019. What's new?

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Week of 27 January 2020: Dainty and Rugged Capital Projects
Week of 27 January 2020: Dainty and Rugged Capital Projects

I have seen few project engineers successfully transfer their skills between the two extremes of the paper industry. On the front end, we find incoming long wood, chippers, chip piles and so forth. At the other end of the business, we find printing and packaging lines with the daintiest of doodads, which must nevertheless work properly and flawlessly for long periods of time.

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Week of 20 January 2020: Leveraging Capital Negotiations
Week of 20 January 2020: Leveraging Capital Negotiations

If you have the corporate foresight to do so, leveraged buying can provide tremendous savings for the procurer and savings for the supplier as well.

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Week of 13 January 2020: The Emotion in Capital Budgets
Week of 13 January 2020: The Emotion in Capital Budgets

When you are in the trenches looking up, it is often easy to see the perceived capriciousness of capital budgets. Hence, as the project manager overseeing the actual project implementation, it is sometimes easy to be lackadaisical about the funding. Do this at your own peril.

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Week of 6 January 2020: Do low interest rates make for sloppy capital projects?
Week of 6 January 2020: Do low interest rates make for sloppy capital projects?

I have been around long enough to remember when retail interest rates were in the +20% range. At the time, corporations were not usually being charged at these levels, but they did reach into the mid-teens. The usual reaction at that point was not to do capital projects, but to wait. Even if corporations were self-funding, they often waited because they could make larger and safer returns with their money at interest in the bank. Today, interest rates are trivial, even for construction loans. Gone are the days when there was a sharp focus on construction interest costs.

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Week of 30 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hubris and Finality
Week of 30 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hubris and Finality

As we wrap up December's Power & Energy Emphasis, I want to offer a caution or two.

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Week of 23 December 2019: Power & Energy: Fossil Fuels
Week of 23 December 2019: Power & Energy: Fossil Fuels

I have admonished readers a number of times over the years not to demolish their fossil fuel-powered assets. Although they may be out of favor at the moment, history indicates nothing is ever permanent in the energy sector.

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Week of 16 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hydroelectric
Week of 16 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power has been a significant component in pulp and paper mills for over 120 years. Early modern paper mills quickly adopted electric power produced by streams near their facilities. It was a natural--the pulp and paper mills needed water and when the ability to generate hydroelectric power came along they quickly built dams and harnessed this renewable power.

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Week of 9 December 2019: Solar is getting closer to making economic sense without subsidies
Week of 9 December 2019: Solar is getting closer to making economic sense without subsidies

Solar cells are continuing to improve in efficiency. My best source tells me that within a few years, we will likely be seeing solar arrays of multiple layers, each layer tuned to a particular wavelength emitted by the sun. Why is this important now?

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