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Week of 19 February 2018: Transportation Optimization
Week of 19 February 2018: Transportation Optimization

I was introduced to "Just-in-Time" manufacturing concepts sometime in the mid-1980s--over thirty years ago. At that time, this meant that suppliers of paper products were supposed to keep warehouses full of product made to customers' specifications and deliver it to them on a moment's notice. We kept it on our books, assumed the liability for its potential damage or loss and owned the warehouses. Some savings! In the years since then, mills have clawed back some of the costs that were transferred to them by their customers during this trend...

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Week of 12 February 2018: Using Transportation Costs as a KPI
Week of 12 February 2018: Using Transportation Costs as a KPI

KPI, in case you have been living under a rock, means "Key Performance Indicator." KPI's have been all the rage for a number of years. Everyone has been looking for the Holy Grail of KPI's for a very long time. I'll submit I have found it...

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Week of 5 February 2018: Autonomous Closer
Week of 5 February 2018: Autonomous Closer

Once again it is February and we are in Transportation Month here at Paperitalo Publications. For the past several years we have been talking about "driverless trucks" at some point during the month of February. This year is no different and the general comment is no different from that of the past several years--driverless trucks are getting closer to being "mainstream."

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Week of 29 January 2018: Capital projects are often political
Week of 29 January 2018: Capital projects are often political

I have spent much of my career, dating back to 1970, in and around capital projects. This predates my entry into the pulp and paper industry around 1974. If I was not up to my elbows in capital projects, from my perch elsewhere they were fluttering about me. Categorically, I can say capital projects are political 99% of the time...

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Week of 22 January 2018: Negotiation Enthusiasm
Week of 22 January 2018: Negotiation Enthusiasm

When considering capital projects, especially those of larger sizes, I have always been bemused by the owner's team approach to negotiations with goods and services providers...

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Week of 15 January 2018: Does converting old assets make any sense?
Week of 15 January 2018: Does converting old assets make any sense?

Converting newsprint machines to produce linerboard has become the rage in recent times. There has also been at least one mill that has converted a portion of its directory paper business to tissue (they did replace the machines, they just used the old buildings). Then there are facilities planning to tear down old machines to build new ones in the same grades. This latter idea makes sense to me; the two former ideas, I am not so sure...

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Week of 8 January 2018: Desperation in Procurement
Week of 8 January 2018: Desperation in Procurement

I mentioned last week how we may be entering a period of shortage of goods and services required for capital projects. I have seen this happen several times in the past, and for the uninitiated, a story and a couple of comments may be instructive...

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Week of 1 January 2018: Capital Projects Month
Week of 1 January 2018: Capital Projects Month

It is Capital Projects Month at Paperitalo Publications. How timely this is this year...

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Week of 25 December 2017: The never-ending misperceptions
Week of 25 December 2017: The never-ending misperceptions

In the popular press, it sells stories to depict industry as mean, uncaring, lawbreakers and so forth. And for many of the average persons on the street, these stories fit the narrative they have been believing all their lives. These stories are bolstered by people credentialed as chemists and scientists who may or may not have their own axes to grind. The lesson for those of us in the industry is multifaceted...

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Week of 18 December 2017: The Clean Energy Report
Week of 18 December 2017: The Clean Energy Report

The International Energy Agency released a report in June 2017, "Tracking Clean Energy Progress 2017." Regardless of your political views on energy (and remember: old Jim says everything about energy is political), it is worthwhile to read material such as this. It reflects the viewpoint the general public will adopt and hence, the direction our industry must go in the future if we are to avoid pickets, boycotts and other unpleasant actions. Here are the "Key Messages" in the report...

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Week of 11 December 2017: Has the base case changed since 2010?  Not by much if at all.
Week of 11 December 2017: Has the base case changed since 2010? Not by much if at all.

Some will consider this column to be very negative and indeed it may be--but the following needs to be said.

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Week of 4 December 2017: A reminder
Week of 4 December 2017: A reminder

I have said for a long time, energy is all political (welcome to Energy Month at Paperitalo). As a political matter, the cost of energy does not necessarily obey the laws of supply and demand or act in any way like a true commodity. Certainly, it does in the short run, but never in the long run. My career, going back to the early 1970's, attests to this.

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Week of 27 November 2017: Now let's get practical, part 2
Week of 27 November 2017: Now let's get practical, part 2

Last week we talked about personnel; I promised to talk about maintenance this week.

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Week of 20 November 2017: Now let's get practical, part 1
Week of 20 November 2017: Now let's get practical, part 1

In the first two weeks of Innovation and Strategy month we have talked about theory and the principles you might consider in approaching Innovation and Strategy in your own mill or company. It is time to get real and talk about opportunities and threats we all face today.

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Week of 13 November 2017: Beware of the sizzle when sorting out Innovation & Strategy
Week of 13 November 2017: Beware of the sizzle when sorting out Innovation & Strategy

Think about it, every graph you have ever seen was designed to convey the story the presenter wanted to present. Think about what you have done yourself as you set about preparing graphs for a presentation. I know you chose all the attributes of the graph based on the conclusions you wanted to convey to your audience. Everybody does it.

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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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