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Articles related to innovation


Week of 20 March 2017: When we were younger, when things were simpler
Week of 20 March 2017: When we were younger, when things were simpler

Today we spend lots of time talking about predictive, preventive maintenance and have all sorts of seminars and software to manage this. There is no excuse for not having a strong predictive, preventive maintenance program. But can it all come down to something as simple as proper care of bearings?

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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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WestRock jointly launches connected packaging solutions
WestRock jointly launches connected packaging solutions

WestRock Company unveiled connected packaging solutions for smart products. These packaging solutions have been developed through a partnership between WestRock, EVRYTHNG and Digimarc.

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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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NIR Technology Now Measures Kappa Number of Kraft Pulp
NIR Technology Now Measures Kappa Number of Kraft Pulp

FPInnovations, in partnership with FITNIR Analyzers Inc., announced the successful commercialization of an innovative new product using near infrared technology (NIR) to quickly and efficiently analyze the kappa number of kraft pulp.

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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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Recyclable paper bike helmet just won a prestigious design award
Recyclable paper bike helmet just won a prestigious design award

On November 17, inventor Isis Shiffer won the 2016 International James Dyson Award, a prestigious design accolade given to university students, for the helmet design. Shiffer imagines the helmets could be sold in vending machines near bike share stations for $5 each.

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Week of 21 Nov 2016: Innovations--winners and losers
Week of 21 Nov 2016: Innovations--winners and losers

I thought I would spend some time this week talking about some of the innovations I have witnessed over the years...

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Week of 14 Nov 2016: I can teach you innovation
Week of 14 Nov 2016: I can teach you innovation

I concluded several years ago, that while people like me may be naturally wired to be innovative, creativity can be taught. It boils down to several steps or realizations. I don't think I have shared these in such a wide audience before. So, here goes...

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Week of 7 Nov 2016: How to add innovation to our industry
Week of 7 Nov 2016: How to add innovation to our industry

The secret to innovation is to carve out the risk of innovation and allocate it to investors who have the attitude to handle it...

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APP introduces smart mapping technology to combat wildfires
APP introduces smart mapping technology to combat wildfires

Sinar Mas Group's pulp and paper firm, Asia Pulp and Paper, has introduced a new smart mapping technology to improve wildfire management.

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Week of 12 Sep 2016: Are you management material?
Week of 12 Sep 2016: Are you management material?

Some, not all, young people in the industry often want to know what it takes to get into management. The answer is simple to state, a bit more difficult to execute. It is this: perform beyond expectations and become known for it. However, before we go further into this (likely next week), let's discuss some matters that you can use to test yourself to determine if you have the disposition to be a manager...

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Week of 5 Sep 2016: Hard or soft?
Week of 5 Sep 2016: Hard or soft?

Every facility in our industry has two types of assets--hard and soft. By hard I mean buildings, machinery, process control systems and so forth. By soft I mean people. When a facility produces products for a vibrant market (defined as steady or growing, not declining), which are more important to its success--the hard assets or the soft assets?

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Week of 29 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, fifth week
Week of 29 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, fifth week

As Corruption Month 2016 comes to a close, Pulp Rats Vel and Hae relate their experiences to Great Grandmother and the rest of the council...

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Louisiana Flood and Paperitalo Friends
Louisiana Flood and Paperitalo Friends

Louisiana is home to a significant portion of the North American pulp and paper industry, both mills and suppliers. When I think back to the business I have done over the decades in Louisiana, the volume is staggering (I received my first project in Louisiana in 1979 in Bogalusa). Right now several of our clients call Louisiana home as well as do many of our friends.

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Week of 22 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, fourth week
Week of 22 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, fourth week

"I did not relate this story to the council, but I wanted to share it with you readers of Mr. Jim's column. It happened in a place where I lived and it is a bit complicated, for I do not understand all the things the Big Things do. Apparently, from the best I can gather, the Big Things make paper products for something called money. They hand other Big Things products they make and these Big Things give them this money in return. Why, I don't understand, but that is the way things seem to work..." Fos the Pulp Rat continues his tale.

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Week of 15 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, third week
Week of 15 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, third week

How many times have you seen a less than honest performer running out the back door as the investigators are coming in the front door? It happens quite often. Fos the Pulp Rat continues his tale...

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Week of 8 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, second week
Week of 8 Aug 2016: Corruption Month 2016, second week

When the rats know we have to follow the rules, there is no excuse for us humans, is there?

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Week of 1 Aug 2016: It's corruption month!
Week of 1 Aug 2016: It's corruption month!

If you are a new reader, a bit of explanation is in order. In the trade journal business, at least in the northern hemisphere, August is the lightest readership month of the year. So, last year we tried something different to perk up August. We labeled it "Corruption Month" and let Fos, a pulp rat, write the stories. This was a huge hit. So, Fos is back again with more tales from the dark side of the pulp and paper industry and beyond...

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Week of 25 July 2016: Impact
Week of 25 July 2016: Impact

What is the impact of your mill on the world as a whole? The truth is we don't know--no one knows because there are simply bits of science yet to be discovered. It is likely, however, that the impact is not as great as environmental NGOs say it is and not as little as your CEO may concede...

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Week of 18 July 2016: Just one more
Week of 18 July 2016: Just one more

Today the number of regulations with which a business or even a homeowner must comply has reached an incalculable quantity. It is as if one were reading the Book of Leviticus and attempting to understand how one properly prepares for the Jewish Sabbath--times ten million. The regulators, bureaucrats and their contractors see it to be their sacred duty to write just one more regulation. This leaves us with an impossible task--how to comply with all the regulations and the new ones constantly being foisted upon us...

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Week of 11 July 2016: The source of regulations
Week of 11 July 2016: The source of regulations

Last week I gave you my definition of regulations: "Regulations are imposed by those who have artificially gained power on those who own assets." I would like to spend this column discussing those who have artificially gained power. There are three groups that come to mind when I think of those who have artificially gained power. They are environmental NGOs, lawyers and governments. Let's take these one at a time...

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Week of 4 July 2016: Saving us from ourselves
Week of 4 July 2016: Saving us from ourselves

This is environment/regulations month here at Paperitalo Publications. Issues surrounding the environment and regulations necessarily, unless you subscribe to conspiracy theories, involve the mitigation of risks. I'll tell a story on myself to set the stage....

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Week of 27 June 2016: What's in a Contract? Part 3
Week of 27 June 2016: What's in a Contract? Part 3

As we wrap up procurement month, I want to talk to you about performance-based contracts. These are very different from most other contracts. They can be complicated to write, but if awarded to a competent bidder, can bring guaranteed results...

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Week of 20 June 2016: What's in a Contract? Part 2
Week of 20 June 2016: What's in a Contract? Part 2

We talked last week about what is not in a contract and the premise that in the eyes of the law in most places, if money has exchanged hands you have a contract. This week I wanted to take a higher level look at what one might want to include in a contract. And, we'll further simplify it by focusing on a contract that is of the "time and material" variety...

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Week of 13 June 2016: What's in a contract? Part 1
Week of 13 June 2016: What's in a contract? Part 1

It is true that if you want something in a contract, you must put it in the contract. It is also true that there are things not in a contract that are implied. A basic principle in the laws in the United States at least is this: if you accept money to do a task, there is a contract. It may be a verbal contract, but it is indeed a contract. Unfortunately, such contracts, if they involve a substantial claim by one party against another, will be sorted out the expensive way--in court. Here's an example...

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Week of 6 June 2016: Procurement Follies
Week of 6 June 2016: Procurement Follies

It is procurement month at Paperitalo Publications. The mill-related troublesome issues that can be attributed to the purchasing department are myriad and legion. This is not to say that there are not great purchasing agents, but this is a focal point of interaction with outsiders. It can lead to grand levels of loss through misunderstanding, incompetence and fraud. I want to discuss two issues today, two issues that are critical even before one arrives at the content of purchasing documents...

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Week of 30 May 2016: A flight of fantasy--wild and crazy energy ideas
Week of 30 May 2016: A flight of fantasy--wild and crazy energy ideas

As we wrap up energy month, let's look at some completely kooky ideas for saving energy. The naysayers will have their negative comments, but keep in mind what looks kooky now may be the greatest thing in just a few years. After all, if a mere two hundred years ago had you tried to speculate on humankind's harnessing and use of electricity coming in just a couple of centuries, you would have been labeled a complete nut-job. So, here we go...

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Week of 23 May 2016: The easiest energy savings
Week of 23 May 2016: The easiest energy savings

The easiest energy savings follow the same philosophy as the easiest safety improvements. If it does not exist, it cannot hurt you or consume energy. Your first reaction will be this: we don't operate anything we don't need in order to run our facility. Really? I'll bet I could find all sorts of things to turn off or modify in your facility...

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Week of 16 May 2016: Energy ROI Calculations are suspect
Week of 16 May 2016: Energy ROI Calculations are suspect

Energy projects have to be looked at from many angles, particularly if they are a significant investment as compared to the depreciated value of the assets they serve. Don't develop a cost overhang situation that will sink the mill if you guessed wrong (and you can count on guessing wrong). This is why you have to develop several scenarios...

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Week of 9 May 2016: Energy Leakage
Week of 9 May 2016: Energy Leakage

If a mill is thinking about adding to their energy generation sources, that is by adding another boiler to their fleet--it is time to pause and take a deep breath. It is one thing if you are changing fuels, quite another if you are just adding to your total steam generation capacity...

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Week of 2 May 2016: Energy is always political
Week of 2 May 2016: Energy is always political

As we start Energy Trends month here at Paperitalo Publications, I want to make sure those of you with a few less years of experience than I have understand that energy is probably the most concomitant political and scientific subject you will ever face...

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Week of 25 April 2016: The safest mill
Week of 25 April 2016: The safest mill

If adding things makes a site more hazardous, taking them away should reduce the hazards. The problem is, that over time, we get used to the hazards around us and pay no attention to them until we encounter them in an accident-causing situation...

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Week of 18 April 2016: When safety is used by top management to set an example
Week of 18 April 2016: When safety is used by top management to set an example

Last week's column was titled, "Does Senior Management cause Safety Issues?" This week, I want to report on two incidents of which I have direct knowledge where safety missteps by plant managers got them fired...

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Week of 11 April 2016: Does Senior Management cause Safety Issues?
Week of 11 April 2016: Does Senior Management cause Safety Issues?

There are times when the demands of management, which I'll admit include demands to conduct all work in a safe manner, sometimes force us to forget safety and push on to achieve the business operational objectives. Further, there is often a fine line when one is ascertaining how to proceed. Nearly everything we do has a dangerous component to it...

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Week of 4 April 2016: Kicking off Safety Month
Week of 4 April 2016: Kicking off Safety Month

It is Safety Month at Paperitalo Publications. Let's start off by understanding two things: (1) serious, sometimes fatal accidents occur in our mills today, this is not something that happens in the past or somewhere else and (2) what we tell our fellow employees, through words, deeds and actions is extremely important to conducting operations in a safe manner.

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Week of 28 March 2016: The greatest of these is love
Week of 28 March 2016: The greatest of these is love

No matter the department, people who love their jobs and care for the assets are the best inside-the-fence chance your mill has at succeeding.
This goes double for maintenance.

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Week of 21 March 2016: More on Boneyards and more
Week of 21 March 2016: More on Boneyards and more

We humans have a propensity for collecting things; it is in our nature. There is an entire industry that has developed in the last three or four decades to cater to this mental disorder--the self-storage industry. You drive by self-storage units all the time--how many of them do you think hold contents whose value equals just one year's rental on the unit? Just because we are in the corporate world does not mean we do not make poor decisions about keeping junk.

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Week of 14 March 2016: From whence comes Maintenance Personnel?
Week of 14 March 2016: From whence comes Maintenance Personnel?

In decades past, in the United States, engineering students came off the farm. It was often a first step up for farm family children to go to engineering school. I was a classic example. I left the farm and became a mechanical engineer. Today, entry level personnel, even if they are trained engineers, often do not have the practical background we used to have...

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Week of 7 March 2016: How to know if a mill is well maintained
Week of 7 March 2016: How to know if a mill is well maintained

You will never know if a mill is well maintained if you follow the mill's "tour route"--you know, the route they keep clean and in great shape for executives, board members and customers. Didn't know that mills have "tour routes"? Have I got some hot property in Florida for you! In a mill that is in really bad shape, you won't have to go to the places I am going to tell you about, for they, that is those in charge, will never let you get there. Thus, the first clue you are in a poorly maintained mill is if you run into resistance to a full blown tour...

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Week of 29 February 2016: Communications
Week of 29 February 2016: Communications

Over my career, the best operating mills and companies I have seen have had very open communications. In these systems, there is a culture encouraging communications between departments and between mills. Conversely, the worst I have seen have been those with a fortress mentality, both internally to a site, between departments and externally to the site, between mills. The worst I have ever seen was in a company making grades in declining markets. The mills saw each other as every bit as big a competitor as the mills actually belonging to competitors...

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Week of 22 February 2016: Transportation on your site
Week of 22 February 2016: Transportation on your site

In some cases, I have seen mills go to great lengths to negotiate strong contracts for their long-haul freight, only to ignore what was happening on their own property, perhaps because of the location of their mills. You can't do much about the location of your mill, if you happen to have arrived after the grand opening. But you might be able to do something about the shuffling of trucks, containers and rail cars about your site...

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Week of 15 February 2016: I've been workin' on the railroad!
Week of 15 February 2016: I've been workin' on the railroad!

Railroads could advance a lot further in serving their customers--in our case, pulp and paper mills and their customers...

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Week of 8 February 2016: The Red Ball Express
Week of 8 February 2016: The Red Ball Express

When the Allies invaded France in June of 1944, they knew they would have to conquer transportation problems if they were to be successful in reaching their objective. Starting on 24 August 1944 and running until 16 November 1944, the Red Ball Express operated 5,958 vehicles and moved 12,500 tons of freight each and every day from the coast of France to the front lines.

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Week of 1 February 2016: Transportation--taking your clues from trucks
Week of 1 February 2016: Transportation--taking your clues from trucks

Where will we see automation next? Driverless trucks. They are less than five years away, folks. You can take it to the bank. The question is, will you be ready for them in your mill?

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Week of 25 January 2016: When Capital Projects Fail
Week of 25 January 2016: When Capital Projects Fail

Failure takes many forms--the budget was too low, the schedule was wrong, training was poor, markets were not as predicted and on and on and on. However, I have never seen a project fail badly if it had a good design basis...

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Week of 18 January 2016: Assets--the intended results of Capital Projects
Week of 18 January 2016: Assets--the intended results of Capital Projects

I once worked for a company that was proud of its capital projects and how the completion of such projects added to the assets of the company. The next company I worked for was proud of its return on investment (ROI) and had a philosophy of investing as little as possible in capital projects, for such investments drove down the ROI. This seems like a conundrum, but there are always other details that need to be explained to understand such matters...

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Week of 11 January 2016: Capital Projects are serious business--not fiction
Week of 11 January 2016: Capital Projects are serious business--not fiction

Capital projects consist of three elements--money, time, and space. Getting two out of three right is not too hard. Getting all three correct is like bowling a perfect game.

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Week of 4 January 2016: Welcome to January--especially those of you with new capital projects
Week of 4 January 2016: Welcome to January--especially those of you with new capital projects

A new year, and it is capital projects month on the Paperitalo Editorial Calendar. In my nearly forty-six years in this industry, I have seen capital projects from all sides. I have seen so many projects, from the truly frightful to shining examples, that I could write a book. In fact, I did. ... I want to start this month's columns with a slightly different slant. I want to begin by talking about the relationship between suppliers and owners.

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Week of 28 December 2015: Energy and Culture in your Mill
Week of 28 December 2015: Energy and Culture in your Mill

As we wrap up power and energy month here at Paperitalo Publications, remember this: unless energy prices change rapidly and drastically (either up or down), the actual practices of energy consumption in your mill are likely driven by your mill's culture more than any other parameter. Of course, this is true of nearly everything that happens in your mill, but it bears noting in particular as we look at energy consumption.

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Week of 21 December 2015: Understanding the scale of energy generation
Week of 21 December 2015: Understanding the scale of energy generation

Here in the pulp and paper industry, we have a difficult problem explaining our energy needs to the public. The scale of our facilities, the energy needs, just do not compute for the individual who is not regularly exposed to the scale of the business. This works to our detriment when the population puts pressure on the politicians. What to do about this?

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Week of 14 December 2015: Your 2016 Energy Budget
Week of 14 December 2015: Your 2016 Energy Budget

If you want to wring unpredictability out of your energy budget, you will push conservation no matter the price of your energy sources. Energy that you don't have to purchase (at any price) reflects energy costs that cannot destabilize your energy budget. It is as simple as that.

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Week of 7 December 2015: A modest start
Week of 7 December 2015: A modest start

Where can we use the force of gravity to eliminate energy costs?

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Week of 23 November 2015: Innovation can be bought
Week of 23 November 2015: Innovation can be bought

In fact, most of the time, that is exactly what large companies do. Earlier in this series I talked about the inertia of large companies and the inability for them to innovate. So, they do the next best thing--they buy it...

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Week of 16 November 2015: Innovation is not fiction
Week of 16 November 2015: Innovation is not fiction

The problem is, good innovation often looks like fiction on the surface. So, challenge innovation--challenge what will make it work. If it is in contracts, challenge the legality. If it is in products, challenge the science. And if it is in services, challenge the psychology that will cause people to behave in the manner that will result in the outcome predicted...

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Week of 9 November 2015: Innovation vs. politics
Week of 9 November 2015: Innovation vs. politics

In our own industry, we are known for inertia. We are not known for innovation, in fact, innovation is almost discouraged. We are known for politics. If I took off my socks right now, I don't have enough digits on my hands and feet to count all the bad managers I know in positions of power in our industry. Politics wins...

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Week of 2 November 2015: Elusive Innovation
Week of 2 November 2015: Elusive Innovation

Innovation has its problems, both from the practitioner and the manager perspectives...

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Week of 29 July 13: Thank you for spreading the word...
Week of 29 July 13: Thank you for spreading the word...

Over the years, Paperitalo Publications has had many firsts, both in ideas and in delivery, and like football teams, we have been gearing up for the season of our lives this year. If you like what you see, if you like to hear about innovations up to three years before the legacy organizations have a clue as to what is going on, we ask for your help...

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