The paper and pulp industry is one of the largest industries globally, and the United States remains the second-largest producer, with more than 70 million tons of paper and board produced every year. In this market, it has become increasingly vital for pulp and paper mills to continually find ways to lower costs and remain profitable as they meet demand.
Although some have been concerned that the future of the digital age will hinder the pulp and paper industry, the industry has been thriving. Many sources believe that this positive trend will continue as long as these mills continue to innovate to meet the changing demands.
As you encounter these challenges and opportunities facing the pulp and paper industry, what decisions will be most impactful for your bottom line? Here are 5 tips from our experts.
#1: Avoid Unplanned Downtime
As an asset-intensive industry, you rely heavily on your employees, equipment, and processes to keep things moving. But when there’s a problem, your ability to produce a product as planned is compromised.
In the pulp and paper industry, unplanned outages are not typical and are always very serious. Even downtime from minor issues can cause a troubling ripple effect.
Your in-house maintenance team will be one of the most effective ways to prevent unplanned outages. Not only do they know every piece of equipment within your control, electrical, and mechanical systems, they also have their eyes and ears on them constantly. We always recommend regularly checking in with your maintenance team to ensure they have the time, ability, and resources to address any issues that may arise.
#2: Consider Your Options
When something breaks, the urgency of the situation causes many people to look for the quickest and easiest solution. Getting back up and running is always a top priority, but sometimes the most obvious solution isn’t the best for your equipment or budget.
Significant retrofits and the re-use of existing system components can pose risks, which many companies prefer to avoid. That is why they often recommend a replacement without
even inspecting the system. We don’t take this approach because we understand the importance of examining the surrounding systems and equipment to identify the true causes of the problem. This provides data to create potential solutions that focus on long-term success.
For instance, several years ago, we worked on a project with one of our paper mill clients regarding excessive system resistance and poor particle handling in one of its combustion boiler’s air handling systems. After inspecting and analyzing the situation, our engineers determined that three mechanical dust collectors were the cause of the excessive pressure drop. Our team’s solution was to create a single, efficient dust collector with the existing equipment. Not only did this save the paper mill the cost of a new fan or draft system, but we also addressed the root of the problem that was previously unidentified.
This dust collector upgrade increased particulate collection efficiency which reduced emissions and subsequently increased production.
Reach out to our experts to learn more about our inspection and maintenance solutions!
#3: Keep Equipment Operating at Peak Performance
Everyone agrees that you want all your equipment working properly, but running equipment that isn’t operating at peak performance allows declines in productivity to fly under the radar.
It’s always good news to hear that nothing is broken or needs to be replaced, but what about upgrades? Equipment upgrades, even minor ones, can significantly impact operations.
During the same mechanical dust collector project for the paper mill discussed above, we retrofitted the ID fan with a 74.5-inch optimized heavy-duty radial tip rotor, customized to fit the existing fan housing.
Although it was only one part of this project, a simple retrofit for the ID fan significantly reduced horsepower consumption and provided savings of approximately $500,000 per year.
Industrial fan upgrades and retrofits are an underutilized opportunity to increase equipment performance. Learn more about this recommendation here.
#4: Proper Spare Parts Management
It’s not advantageous for production when you are missing parts that should be in stock in your MRO (Maintenance, Repair, and Operations) storeroom, especially when the need for the part is urgent. Not only do you have to deal with production delays, but expedited shipping charges are becoming increasingly expensive due to supply chain issues.
Proper parts management helps ensure that your plant has what it needs when it needs it. Whether done in-house or outsourced, efficient oversight of your spare parts storeroom reduces inventory spending, improves organization for faster disbursement and tracking, and ensures part availability.
If you’re in need of a new or replacement part, we have a fully stocked warehouse with parts ready for immediate delivery! Request parts for your plant here.
#5: Work With Experts Who Know Your Industry & Equipment
These actions listed will impact your bottom line, but only if the solutions are implemented by experts who know your industry, equipment, and operations. We believe anything worth doing is worth doing well, and that’s especially true when your profit and reputation are on the line.
We have been serving a broad range of industries for over 40 years. Our experts know old and new equipment inside and out, have an understanding of the big picture, and focus on delivering solutions that positively impact your operations – from comprehensive inspections to custom engineered designs to installation, maintenance, and spare parts.
Contact us today to learn more about our preventative maintenance, outage planning, equipment retrofits services, and more.