When I started in consulting in 1980, my first assignment was working on an upgrade to a government owned pulp and paper mill in Alexandria, Egypt. The mill had 6 paper machines, a small 30 ton/day rice straw pulp mill, a small wastepaper line and a couple of purchased pulp lines. Part of the upgrade included the installation of a new, larger deinked wastepaper line. The problem was that the site was limited for new buildings but there were large areas of the existing mill that were not being used and were full of idled equipment, piping, cable trays etc. Some of it was over 30 years old. Essentially, when something broke and could not be fixed, they simply piped around it.
We soon found out that this equipment had been left in place because it was still on the books for its original value (they did not understand depreciation) and the mill management was afraid to remove it as it would "decrease the value" of the mill assets.
After a lot of lobbying, we convinced the mill Chairman to remove all of this old equipment and store it in a pile in an area outside of his second floor office window. Over a few months, the mountain of metal grew to a considerable size and the cleaned out area was almost double what we needed for the new deinking line. Eventually, the Chairman got permission to sell the metal as scrap and made about $1.5 million for the mill (and this was in 1982 dollars).
Bob Hurter Ottawa, Canada
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