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CONFERENCE: Of universal concern – Costs must come down


November 1, 2002
By Pulp & Paper Canada

From the outset, there was proof of the importance of the conference theme for a sector beset by economic uncertainty. Ajoy Chatterjee, chairman of the Midwest branch, was pleased to note that over 30…

From the outset, there was proof of the importance of the conference theme for a sector beset by economic uncertainty. Ajoy Chatterjee, chairman of the Midwest branch, was pleased to note that over 300 attendees defied general attendance slumps in the industry to listen and learn from the technical sessions which presented ideas for increasing efficiencies of the pulp or papermaking process. Short courses covered aspects of corrosion and corrosion prevention, process variability, controller tuning, dispersion modelling for air compliance and planned shutdown optimization.

Keynote speaker David Muss of Research in Motion in Waterloo, ON, spoke of Personal Communication Tools as Presenting Business Value. The Market Forum had B. Laprade of Scotia Capital speaking on an Equity Market’s Perspective and J. Duncanson, of Duncanson Investment Research in Toronto, discussed Global Realities. The conference was held in conjunction with a trade show featuring 56 exhibitors.

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Presidents Panel

A Presidents’ Panel discussion featured Arnold M. Nemirow (chairman, president and CEO of Bowater), Marco Marcheggiani (president of Metso Paper North America) and William Mahoney (vice president and general manager of the Pulping Group of GL&V).

Mr. Nemirow spoke of a program within Bowater called the Cost Assessment Program.

“I have always believed that a company should focus on what it has control over. There isn’t a lot any of us in this room can do to control world events and economies. There is much we can do regarding costs and increasing efficiencies within our respective companies. The philosophy and process behind the program is to identify all activities that drive all costs at the mill.

“We first did this in 1995 with Bowater’s pulp and paper mills — that at the time numbered 5. Today, we’re up to 12.”

By following this policy, Mr. Nemirow pointed out that Bowater had eliminated over $316 million in operational costs, most of this without using any capital. He ended by warning that, “The investment community is demanding a better performance from our companies. If we don’t find a way of providing better returns — I fear for the future of our industry in North America.

His final advice: “Continue to focus your energies on what you do control — your costs. Be ambitious in your goals for cost reduction and conduct the effort on a continuous basis.”

Metso was also interested in keeping costs down. Mr. Marcheggiani explained the two approaches that were used: Externally, for customers, by developing innovative products to make production process more efficient and establishing strong, efficient relationship. Internally, for themselves, by reducing the cost of producing products and maintaining operational and back office organizational efficiency.

He ended by saying, “In Metso, cost reduction is a continuous process where all opportunities are considered and all costs are challenged.”

Close attention to asset management was the theme of Mr. Mahoney’s speech. Every mill, he said, had numerous opportunities to lower costs. He recommended accomplishing this by a close examination of all areas of operation.

Tech Papers

More than 40 sessions in three days covered many topics, including energy management, the environment (such as the impact of the Kyoto Agreement on the forest industry in Canada), laboratory accreditation, techniques for odour assessment, water reduction strategies, descriptions of project upgrades at Bowater and St. Marys, process monitoring, safety measurement, management issues and energy savings (such as benchmarking energy use).

Papermaking was covered in freshwater bromination, expansion projects and water management, cost reduction and modelling jet impingement.

Experiences of the Indian Paper Industry were described by Abha Gupta, Rajeev Mathur and Arvind Kulkarni of Central Pulp & Paper Research Institute of Saharanpur, India.

Best Paper Award

The best paper award was won by Jack Porter and Ron Dokis of Bowater, Thunder Bay, for their paper REA and recover boiler operations – Observations & speculations.

This paper examined the impact of a changing REA (residual effective alkali) on recovery boiler operations, combining mill experience and mill data with existing REA knowledge and research.


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