HOW CAN WE HELP THEE?Let us count the ways
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By Pulp & Paper Canada
Pulp and paper companies invest a substantial sum of money each year in Paprican. How do they get value from that investment? There are four main ways:The first way, and the traditional one, is by par…
Pulp and paper companies invest a substantial sum of money each year in Paprican. How do they get value from that investment? There are four main ways:
The first way, and the traditional one, is by partnering Paprican’s research projects. Partners are Member Companies who work with Paprican staff to define project activities, review resources, assign priorities and set goals. Every project at Paprican has to be partnered by at least two Member Companies and, on average, projects have seven Partners. Progress is reviewed at regular All-Partners Meetings held at least once a year, often with Partners linked via Paprican’s video conferencing facility. Partners, therefore, not only get to influence directly the course of a line of research but also get the opportunity to act on the results at the earliest possible moment. Within a group of Partners there are usually one or two “lead Partners”, companies that are particularly active and want early application of the expertise or new technologies that are being developed. Lead Partners stand to gain most from project work. Although there are always risks in being a leader, experience in other industries shows that the greatest value accrues to companies which lead rather than follow technological trends.
The second route to value is the transfer of established Paprican technology and expertise. There are now more than 70 technologies that Paprican has developed and which Member Companies can use free of all royalties. Paprican technologies cover the full spectrum, from fibre property measurement (the Fibre Quality Analyzer’), through the Alkali Sensor (to improve kraft pulping control), recovery boiler tuning, yellowing inhibition for mechanical pulps, the paper machine felt permeability tester, the tissue crepe sensor, sludge reduction technology and control loop tuning. In many cases companies work through Paprican licensees; but, as Members, they always have access to Paprican for support and advice. Paprican’s Research Program Committee, composed mainly of Member Company representatives, has identified savings approaching $150 million annually which are being enjoyed by companies that have installed Paprican technologies.
Troubleshooting is the third aspect of Paprican’s business which brings big benefits to Member Companies, and a telephone call or E-mail message is all that is required to begin the process. Troubleshooting tends to fall into three categories: a) analytical services and routine testing, b) experimental work, and c) consulting. Sometimes, a Member Company just wants to send samples for testing using standard tests (Paprican’s Physical Testing Group operates an ISO-accredited laboratory). Often, though, the analysis is more complex requiring special equipment and techniques, for example to quantify the microstructure of paper, board and coatings. Troubleshooting that involves experimental work usually arises when the real cause of the problem is hard to identify. Typically, Paprican staff visit the mill and develop a joint action plan. This visit will be followed by further meetings to review progress and to identify the steps that should be taken to finally alleviate the problem. The third category of troubleshooting simply means getting the right advice. For example, Paprican’s material selection team is constantly on the road and in the air visiting mills to advise on materials and corrosion issues. It is a very popular and highly appreciated service, which can save a Member Company literally millions of dollars on the strength of a phone call or visit.
The fourth way that companies get value from their membership at Paprican is in the development of their business. A major capital investment is planned? Paprican staff may be asked to sit in on the planning stage, work with suppliers or consultants, or critique the proposals. New environmental regulations pose a threat? Paprican staff can advise on recent developments and approaches. Thinking about developing new products or applications? Paprican advice on fibre characteristics and on end-use performance could be vital. Increasingly, Member Companies are utilizing Paprican expertise when they are facing major business decisions like these.
Some years ago, Paprican set up the Liaison Program with its Members. For every Member Company, Paprican nominates one or more experienced members of its staff (the Paprican Liaison Representatives) to help the Member Company maximize the value it obtains from Paprican. That individual works hand-in-glove with a Member Liaison Representative nominated by the company. Together they identify the company’s technical needs, the appropriate Paprican technology and expertise, and the right people within the Member Company to participate in Paprican’s project work (the Project Partners). They facilitate troubleshooting and they also ensure that Paprican’s communications, particularly the technical reports, go to the right people. Forty Paprican professionals are involved in the Liaison Program at present, to be supported in the near future through the Paprican Extranet using web-based browser technology.
Another more recent development, and one which is proving a very powerful tool to bring value, is the Member Company Day. This is a day dedicated to meeting the needs of a particular Member Company. Typically, senior staff from that Member Company come to Paprican to review the work that has been done together in the recent past and to present the company’s needs for work over the next year. Recent research progress relevant to that particular company is highlighted. The day finishes with the identification of a list of activities that will be jointly carried out between Paprican and the Member Company over the following 12 months. It is not unusual to have the president of the company attend a day like this. This is a highly effective method to keep both Member Company staff and Paprican staff focused on delivering value. Member Company Days are ways by which Paprican continues to build dedicated relationships with each individual Member Company.
Whenever a Member Company contacts Paprican, an electronic record is filed. It records the significance of the interaction, (i.e., what the issue was and why it was important), and the activity (what Paprican did to help). Paprican’s Extranet will enable each Member Company to access an electronic record of those interactions on-line. This record allows both Paprican and the Member Company to keep track of the value of their joint activities. The volume of these interactions comes as a surprise to many people. Member Companies contact Paprican at the rate of approximately one per hour during the working day. That statistic alone says a great deal about the value that Members obtain from their membership in Paprican.
Roger Howard is Director of Member Company Relations, Paprican, Pointe-Claire, QC.