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Management Side

Writer for Nip Impressions

Recent Articles

Week of 17 June 2019: Fine tuning the procurement function

Week of 17 June 2019: Fine tuning the procurement function

If you survived last week's column on procurement and are back for more, welcome to the continuing discussion.

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Week of 10 June 2019: What should be the scope of the procurement function?

Week of 10 June 2019: What should be the scope of the procurement function?

This story was told about a CFO, but it will serve us well as we talk about procurement this week. It seems as though a certain paper company hired a new CFO from outside our industry. Attending his first budget meeting, the annual budget was being reviewed. This is a large company, the line item for machine clothing was well over 8 digits. Pounding his fist on the table, he said, "This is outrageous. Why are we spending so much on employee uniforms?" He didn't last long.

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Week of 3 June 2019: Procurement 2019

Week of 3 June 2019: Procurement 2019

In times gone by (and, sadly, to some extent still today) procurement has been prone to a considerable amount of graft and general corruption. For party of the first part is trying to persuade party of the second part to buy certain goods and services. Procurement officers are fiduciarily charged with getting the best deal for their companies. Sellers are taught to get the order. Less than sterling ethics on either side can corrupt the process and unfairly cheat one party, often the buyer, with inflated prices, shoddy goods or services and less than maximum value.

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Week of 27 May 2019: Coming changes in Energy Consumption

Week of 27 May 2019: Coming changes in Energy Consumption

Land-grant colleges and universities were funded by the Morrill Acts (1862 and 1890). The beginning of the agricultural revolution in the United States approximates these acts. When I say “the agricultural revolution” I am referring to the phenomenal improvement in the productivity of agriculture that has occurred from the mid-19th century until today. We need go no further than note that at the beginning of this period, over 98% of the population was engaged in agriculture, today less than 2% is, despite massive growth in the number of mouths to feed. Agriculture has always been ahead of industry in efficiency improvements.

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Week of 20 May 2019: Energy Trends outside the Fence

Week of 20 May 2019: Energy Trends outside the Fence

In containerboard grades, relative cost position curves are becoming a metric of the past, not the future. Actually, what may happen is they bifurcate into two distinct sets, one recycled mills and the other virgin mills. We are on the cusp of an era where putting them up against one another is meaningless.

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Devon Barnes (L) and Jim Thompson
Devon Barnes (L) and Jim Thompson

A visit to Advanced Coil Technology

I just love to visit our clients. Today (13 May 2019), I was visiting Devon Barnes, President of Advanced Coil Technology, LLC in Owatonna, Minnesota. Advanced Coil makes liquid-to-air coils for any application.

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Week of 13 May 2019: Historical Energy Trends

Week of 13 May 2019: Historical Energy Trends

Sometimes it is worthwhile to look back on where we have come from to assess where we are and where we are going...

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Week of 6 May 2019: Energy Trends 2019

Week of 6 May 2019: Energy Trends 2019

If you have read my columns for a while, you know that for many years, I have been saying "all energy is political." Let me assure you, this reality has not changed. Particularly when tied into discussions concerning climate change, global warming and similar subjects, energy discussions are more political than ever.

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Week of 29 April 2019: Office Safety

Week of 29 April 2019: Office Safety

We spend a lot of time talking about safety in production and forestry settings, often neglecting offices in the discussions. It is easy to be seriously injured in an office, too.

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Week of 22 April 2019: The 360 look

Week of 22 April 2019: The 360 look

How many safety incidents do we encounter in our mills where we are focused on the potential safety issue in front of us when another is lurking beside or behind us?

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Week of 15 April 2019: Know your coworkers--a key to safety

Week of 15 April 2019: Know your coworkers--a key to safety

In the military, there are lots of discussions about "battle buddies.' A battle buddy is a person who sticks with you and you with them so you continuously know each other's condition. It is a safety issue in an environment that is often not safe.

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Week of 8 April 2019: Who should do safety inspections?

Week of 8 April 2019: Who should do safety inspections?

Personally, I think at least two individuals should be involved in any safety inspection.

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Week of 1 April 2019: Safety Record in the Pulp and Paper Industry

Week of 1 April 2019: Safety Record in the Pulp and Paper Industry

For a long time, the industry has patted itself on the back for its safety record; perhaps we have had a small part in pulling it up by its leash on this subject. I do think the industry has gone from a time of poor safety performance (pre 1975 or so) to good safety performance (approximately 1975 to 1995) and now, in the last twenty-five years it has regressed somewhat.

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Week of 25 March 2019: How to tell if a Maintenance Department is Effective

Week of 25 March 2019: How to tell if a Maintenance Department is Effective

There are only two or three conditions one has to observe to determine if a maintenance department is effective. Fixing them if they are not is a whole other chapter in our quest for a properly operating mill. This week we'll just look for clues as to effectiveness.

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Week of 18 March 2019: Prejudice in Maintenance equals Ineffective Maintenance

Week of 18 March 2019: Prejudice in Maintenance equals Ineffective Maintenance

As I go around the industry, it seems like the last bastion of old-fashioned prejudice is the maintenance department. It's often the rough and tumble end of the mill and many times the workers in this area may have been overlooked in general training for the softer parts of doing their jobs. It has been a male dominated area forever. I have seen some racial prejudice in this area, but not near as much as I have male/female prejudice.

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Week of 11 March 2019: Maintenance is not popular

Week of 11 March 2019: Maintenance is not popular

I have been railing and writing about maintenance for decades. All of this energy has not turned the tide on the popularity of maintenance. No one likes it and to the uninitiated it is just a cost. It indeed often seems like an intangible cost, for the results of good maintenance are that everything runs just fine, there is no drama, no excitement. Hence the desire to put it off as long as possible, hopefully until the manager in charge of the budget can get promoted. At least that is the manager's position; employees close to the process always know better because bad maintenance makes their lives miserable...

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Week of 4 March 2019: It's maintenance month!

Week of 4 March 2019: It's maintenance month!

I am told others can't wait for August (Corruption Month) when the Pulp Rats come out to play. I'll admit I enjoy that month, too, but I further admit that Maintenance Month is likely my favorite in the Paperitalo Editorial schedule. I contend that lack of proper maintenance is the largest contributor in failing to maximize the spinning of your invoice printer. I'll further contend that once you get behind on maintenance, it takes a serious effort to catch up. In most organizations and cultures, catching up is nearly impossible--everyone fights you...

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Week of 25 February 2019: What will another year bring in transportation?

Week of 25 February 2019: What will another year bring in transportation?

Of course, it is hard to say, but I will say this: "I would be leasing all my transportation equipment if I were you, and, further, I would be signing leases with relatively painless exit clauses."

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Week of 18 February 2019: Autonomous Internal Transportation cont'd.

Week of 18 February 2019: Autonomous Internal Transportation cont'd.

A category of business where I see little movement towards autonomous vehicles but where I think there is lots of opportunity is in maintenance and related activities.

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Week of 11 February 2019: Internal Transportation already autonomous...

Week of 11 February 2019: Internal Transportation already autonomous...

Last week we talked about the coming over-the-road autonomous trucks. Inside your facility, autonomy is already here for most routine production tasks.

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Week of 13 March 2017: Maintenance Storerooms

Week of 13 March 2017: Maintenance Storerooms

If you have read my thoughts on maintenance storerooms over the years, you will accuse me of having been all over the place, and you will be correct. At one time, I adopted the attitude that everyone should do what they were best at doing, and in the case of paper mills, this was making paper, so they should outsource storerooms. I still think this is good for small consumables and specialized repairs (such as roll repairs and recovering). However, for other items, such as pump assemblies, screens, motors and so forth, keep your own--but take care of them. This philosophy certainly applies for existing papermills (but read to the end)...

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Week of 6 March 2017: Maintenance

Week of 6 March 2017: Maintenance "Costs"

We have been conditioned to think maintenance is a cost and unscheduled maintenance is acceptable. There is no basis for this logic; it is just a rumor passed around from board room to board room. It is time for your senior management to take a long hard look at the numbers, not the traditions...

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Week of 27 Feb 2017: Future jobs in transportation

Week of 27 Feb 2017: Future jobs in transportation

We have spent the entire month talking about driverless trucks, drones, robots and so forth. So what is in the future for humans in this scenario?

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Week of 20 Feb 2017: Deadheading Drones

Week of 20 Feb 2017: Deadheading Drones

We have heard a lot about drones delivering packages, but not so much about the return flights--there will be a lot of deadheading going on. Can this wasted transportation resource be put to good use?

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Week of 13 Feb 2017: Rethinking local transportation needs

Week of 13 Feb 2017: Rethinking local transportation needs

While last week I was talking about long distance transportation of pulp by pipelines, let's look at what should be done locally, given the current state of technology...

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Week of 6 Feb 2017: What has changed? What is new?

Week of 6 Feb 2017: What has changed? What is new?

This is transportation month at Paperitalo Publications. This week, we discuss trucks and pipelines...

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Week of 30 Jan 2017: Keeping Capital Project Costs Low

Week of 30 Jan 2017: Keeping Capital Project Costs Low

There are a number of actions by mill owners that drive up the costs of capital projects. We'll wrap up this month by touching on these...

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Week of 23 Jan 2017: What you don't know about your capital project

Week of 23 Jan 2017: What you don't know about your capital project

Construction projects are complicated, even the little ones. I can guarantee you that you can watch a five-million-dollar project all day long for its entire duration and you won't know half of what happened, not half the interactions that occurred over its duration. There is one contemporary and one post completion test you can do...

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Week of 16 Jan 2017: Why mills lose at capital projects

Week of 16 Jan 2017: Why mills lose at capital projects

In addition to the fantasyland I referenced last week, there are other issues in capital projects that are landmines...

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Week of 9 Jan 2017: Lawyers and Capital Projects

Week of 9 Jan 2017: Lawyers and Capital Projects

Having been in the industry for over forty years and having written my fair share of expert witness reports, I can tell you that major capital projects (over, say, USD 5 million) are more likely to end up in court than not. This does not have to be. OK, Jim, you say this does not have to be, then why does it happen? There are two or three conditions that cause construction court cases. They come up repeatedly...

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Week of 2 Jan 2017: Capital Projects are about to change

Week of 2 Jan 2017: Capital Projects are about to change

If you have been doing capital projects for only a few years, I think some surprises are just around the corner. Here is my assessment of where we are headed, assuming some natural or human-caused cataclysmic event does not occur...

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Week of 26 Dec 2016: Energy/Perception/ Environment Blend

Week of 26 Dec 2016: Energy/Perception/ Environment Blend

Whether you are the CEO, Mill Manger, Energy Czar or a Project Engineer, your job today is more demanding than ever as we deal with energy, the environment and public perception...

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Week of 19 Dec 2016: I told you energy is political!

Week of 19 Dec 2016: I told you energy is political!

For many years, I have been telling the faithful readers of this column that energy is a political issue. Now the proof is in...

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Week of 12 Dec 2016: Easy Energy Money

Week of 12 Dec 2016: Easy Energy Money

These two ideas have been around for a very long time, but I am amazed at how many people don't use them, not just in replacement scenarios, but in new installations. The first one I want to mention is regenerative drives. The other application is VFD (variable frequency drives) on pumps...

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Week of 5 Dec 2016: Power & Energy

Week of 5 Dec 2016: Power & Energy

We are headed for a crisis. We have a combination of operators who have little physical understanding of the systems they operate, some of them have an attitude, and, on top of that, the hardware and software that serve as their crutches is obsolete. We want to do something about this...

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Week of 28 Nov 2016: Innovation--when you are stuck

Week of 28 Nov 2016: Innovation--when you are stuck

This week, we talk about some tricks you can use to unplug an innovation log jam...

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