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Week of 21 August 2017: Corruption Month 2017, Third Week
Week of 21 August 2017: Corruption Month 2017, Third Week

Every August, we focus on corruption we have seen or heard about in the industry in the past year. As usual, these stories are told by Fos, a pulp rat. It is my privilege to put Fos's stories in print for you...

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Week of 14 August 2017: Corruption Month 2017, Second Week
Week of 14 August 2017: Corruption Month 2017, Second Week

Every August, we focus on corruption we have seen or heard about in the industry in the past year. As usual, these stories are told by Fos, a pulp rat. It is my privilege to put Fos's stories in print for you...

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Week of 7 August 2017: Corruption Month is here again!
Week of 7 August 2017: Corruption Month is here again!

Every August, we focus on corruption we have seen or heard about in the industry in the past year. As usual, these stories will be told by Fos, a pulp rat. It is my privilege to put Fos's stories in print for you...

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Madison Paper Industries, UPM conclude sale of hydro power facilities
Madison Paper Industries, UPM conclude sale of hydro power facilities

Madison Paper Industries, a partnership of UPM and Northern SC Paper Corp., a subsidiary of The New York Times Company, concluded the sale of its hydro power facilities to Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC.

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Week of 31 July 2017: People versus computer technology
Week of 31 July 2017: People versus computer technology

I was talking to an old friend who spent one of his college days' summers doing fetch-and-carry work in a paper mill. Although it had been many years ago, he was still in awe of that "big ol' paper machine" and the fact that it took "twelve or thirteen men" to run it. No more, Tom, I said...

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Week of 24 July 2017: How well do you know your territory?
Week of 24 July 2017: How well do you know your territory?

"You've got to know the territory." As I remember it, this was a song sung by a chorus of some erstwhile salesmen in the Broadway show "The Music Man." If you are a mill manager or a department manager, it is your responsibility to be a walking encyclopedia about your territory and all that is in it. You've got to know your territory...

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Week of 17 July 2017: The quandary of environmental advocates
Week of 17 July 2017: The quandary of environmental advocates

The real objective of the environmental advocacy groups today is their own survival. They cannot afford to declare a great victory, for then their incomes dry up. They are in quite a predicament!

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Week of 10 July 2017: Being Hands-on Engineers and Scientists
Week of 10 July 2017: Being Hands-on Engineers and Scientists

It was not so long ago that engineers and scientists often came from a rural background. This is still true in developing nations, but for those of us living in developed nations, it is usually no longer the case. My own experience is a good example...

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Week of 3 July 2017: Make your office make a statement
Week of 3 July 2017: Make your office make a statement

This column is for the younger generation. Ready? Away we go! You get your degree and head off to the mill to work. Or perhaps your first job is with a supplier. In any case, you are proud of your accomplishments to date--but reality is about to set in. After you sign the pile of papers from the human resources department, you will be taken to your new office...

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Week of 26 June 2017: Do you feel like somebody's watching you? They are...
Week of 26 June 2017: Do you feel like somebody's watching you? They are...

Do you have trouble getting subordinates to do what you want them to do? There can be many reasons for this, but one of the most common is that YOU are not doing what you want THEM to do...

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Week of 19 June 2017: Preparing for your personal buy-out day
Week of 19 June 2017: Preparing for your personal buy-out day

I have spent a lot of time talking to investment bankers. Their interest is in buying into deals, looking at bankrupt companies for possible purchase and so forth. In short, they are looking for nuggets in the pulp and paper industry. Such are the fortunes of a mature industry. If you have been located in a mill or a headquarters for some period of time, you may have already seen company names and logos come and go, while you personally occupied the same space. Observing colleagues in the industry, I have noticed a number of behaviors that could use some improvement, to the benefit of the persons whose careers may be affected...

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Week of 12 June 2017: Inspect inspections
Week of 12 June 2017: Inspect inspections

If you are buying inspection services, make sure you are getting them. I was in a facility once where I saw what happens when these things go wrong. This facility had some high priced instrumentation for which they had an annual inspection contract. It just so happened that I was very familiar with one piece of instrumentation that was on this inspection cycle and I was standing beside it when the inspector came by. I knew every flaw this instrument currently suffered. The inspector's entire activity, as I observed it, was to take off last year's inspection sticker and put on this year's...

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Week of 5 June 2017: Your role in your company
Week of 5 June 2017: Your role in your company

Wandering around the industry as I do, I am often amazed at the perceived roles people think they have, as indicated by their actions and words each day. Many appear to have no clue to the overall picture. It is really quite simple...

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Week of 29 May 2017: My feelings about feelings
Week of 29 May 2017: My feelings about feelings

A person starting a career is a bit of an open book. Such people may have had some work experiences, maybe even some military experience, but, in general their expectations about the work environment are recognized, even by them, as just that: expectations that may or may not become reality. It amuses me, for instance, to hear some of the ideas soon-to-be college graduates have about work. One told me something to the effect that once she started to work, she saw excitement in life as being over--you go to work each day, do the same things each day and forty years later you retire. Sadly, I have actually met people who have done exactly this. What I am getting at here, though, is something more subtle...

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Week of 22 May 2017: Table talk can be educational
Week of 22 May 2017: Table talk can be educational

No matter how much formal education you have acquired, there is one forum that stands above others in importance. It is one in which you participate first as a receiver, and then, later, if you have children, as a provider. It is the forum of the family dinner table...

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Week of 15 May 2017: The problem of scattered assets--some new, some old
Week of 15 May 2017: The problem of scattered assets--some new, some old

There is a lesson here for us all--an opportunity for a critical self-examination of how large decisions are made...

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Week of 8 May 2017: How would you change things if you could?
Week of 8 May 2017: How would you change things if you could?

Over the years, I have heard many conversations start with, "If I were in charge of this place..." If you were in charge, what would you change? Why would you change it? How would you accomplish the changes? When would you change it? Let us take things one at a time...

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Week of 1 May 2017: Up and at 'em--or just sitting?
Week of 1 May 2017: Up and at 'em--or just sitting?

Recently I have seen a number of cases in which human energy was not being expended to any appreciable extent. Actually, I was witnessing laziness. I have not discussed this topic in a long time, so perhaps it is time once again to bring it up. It is a topic that tends to offend some folks, for people do not like to be singled out as lazy or unenergetic. To assuage the embarrassment of the truly guilty, let me say that we all are struck by this at one time or another. And we must admit that we know some people who are in a permanent rut of inactivity. So, who to blame? What to do?

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Week of 24 April 2017: Perception vs. Reality
Week of 24 April 2017: Perception vs. Reality

The phrase, "perception is reality" is often a cautionary warning as to how others might perceive what one is doing, or how they look and so forth. I want to talk today about times when perception is not reality and how this might affect our actions...

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Week of 17 April 2017: Hindsight vs. Foresight
Week of 17 April 2017: Hindsight vs. Foresight

You are reading this, most likely, at an operating facility. I am going to give you two important challenges that are vital to the success of your company, no matter what your position is.

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Week of 10 April 2017: Taking control of your time
Week of 10 April 2017: Taking control of your time

I will bet you have tasks, if viewed by a critical eye, that would appear somewhat ludicrous. They may include a meeting you attend regularly that does nothing toward moving your enterprise forward. They may be insane reports that no one reads, or some other habitual exercise that does nothing...

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Week of 3 April 2017: General liability and the cost of not caring
Week of 3 April 2017: General liability and the cost of not caring

Years ago, when I started this column, I decided one important thing to be done here was to beat the drum for safety. Well, we have, and we plan to continue doing so. I am writing today, however, about general liability--caused by people or caused to people through exposures of various kinds. Some of these are safety matters, some are security matters. Others can arise out of employment law...

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Week of 27 March 2017: Thinking new thoughts about maintenance
Week of 27 March 2017: Thinking new thoughts about maintenance

There are some ways in which original capital purchases can serve to reduce maintenance costs and downtime...

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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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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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Stora Enso and Volvo Cars to inaugurate renewable energy pipeline
Stora Enso and Volvo Cars to inaugurate renewable energy pipeline

Stora Enso and Volvo Cars officially opened a new hot water pipeline between their manufacturing sites in Ghent, Belgium, on 18 November 2016.

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Duluth, Minn. caps electric franchise fee, saving Verso $390,000
Duluth, Minn. caps electric franchise fee, saving Verso $390,000

Heeding concerns that a proposed franchise fee could jeopardize the future of Verso Corp.'s paper mill in West Duluth and the 260 jobs it provides, city councilors unanimously voted Monday night to roll back the fee the company could have seen tacked onto its mammoth electric bill.

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Duluth, Minn. to modify electric fee to help paper mill
Duluth, Minn. to modify electric fee to help paper mill

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson announced Tuesday that her administration will ask the City Council next week to amend its ordinance which raises the city's electric utility franchise fee from 1 percent to 3 percent starting next year, bending to the complaints from the Verso paper mill that said the higher fee could force its closure.

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Verso paper mill workers in Minnesota ask West Duluth council to reconsider electric franchise fee
Verso paper mill workers in Minnesota ask West Duluth council to reconsider electric franchise fee

Employees of the Verso Paper Co. in West Duluth again implored city council members Monday night to reconsider their decision last month to triple a local electric franchise fee it charges.

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Port Townsend Paper first manufacturer in state of Washington to switch to compressed natural gas
Port Townsend Paper first manufacturer in state of Washington to switch to compressed natural gas

The Port Townsend Paper Corp. has become the first large manufacturer in the state to switch from oil to compressed natural gas.

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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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