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Paperweek International 2005

Strength in flexibility proves a winning combination...


April 1, 2005
By Pulp & Paper Canada

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Strength in flexibility proves a winning combination

A number of major changes didn’t faze the delegates and visitors to PaperWeek International / EXFOR 2005 in Montreal. This year, the timing of the event had been adjusted (February instead of January) and the layout of the exhibition had been modified, locating, for the first time, all 400 exhibiting companies into the newly expanded exhibition hall.

Had there been any criticism?

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On the contrary, stated Rob Wood, director of the Pulp and Paper Canada Technical Association of Canada, there were many enthusiastic comments.

“The visitors found that having everything on one floor was certainly positive,” Wood stated. “And all of the organizers were extremely pleased with the overall level of participation in PaperWeek International this year.”

The numbers supported the view. Although they fell slightly short of last year’s total, there had been a definite improvement over the corresponding days in 2004 until a sudden snow squall (this is Montreal, after all) cut the momentum on the last day.

As Wood points out, “It was particularly gratifying to note that the number of delegates registered to attend technical sessions increased 1% over a year ago. Even more impressive was the fact that participation in the sessions went up by 11%.”

Carmie Lato, the PAPTAC events manager, was proud to admit that many of the comments centred on the quality of the technical program.

“More than a few sources said that it was the best by far,” said Lato. “This is very important to us since the sessions are the very core of the event.” According to Wood, the higher attendance figures demonstrated the high calibre of the programs that were prepared by the Standing Committees.

Winter timing

Lato admitted to being asked frequently about the reason for the change of dates, although the questions seemed to be based on curiosity and not complaints. She felt that there was a certain mindset about the usual date of PaperWeek International being in January but that no one had a problem with the new date.

“The change from January to February was a non-issue for most people,” said Wood. He admitted that there have traditionally been comments as to why the event takes place in the winter. “It originally started due to the fact that the industry lived on the statistics and shipment data at the year-end,” Wood explained. “And, of course, it would also make a difference in space availability and rates if we moved it to a higher season.” Importantly, PaperWeek/EXFOR remains the first major event on the calendar each year, thereby continuing to set the standard while providing an invaluable forum for the industry to remain informed, network, implement new ideas and purchase new technologies.

Although it is necessary to be wary of the weather in Montreal, this year’s PaperWeek was timed very well for a mild break and visitors were able to stroll outside for a fresh air break. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse on the Thursday, as a heavy snow fall prevented much of the planned activities in the city that day.

The change had been agreed upon more than a year ago. Wayne Novak, general manager of ActivExpo (EXFOR management company), explained that there were two main reasons. “One was that the former date created more conflicts of annual shareholders meetings with many forest companies. Postponing the opening meant that more senior executives could come to Montreal.”

The other reason, he added, was to accommodate the Pulp and Paper Products Council of Canada (PPPC). The extra time allowed them to collect all the necessary end-of-year statistics to present during their press conference.

“The change obviously didn’t interfere with anyone’s schedules,” said Novak. “The numbers speak for themselves. Despite the continued challenging market conditions, PaperWeek International and its technology exhibition EXFOR 2005 attracted close to 10,000 individuals from 31 countries.”

Of those, he said, many commented favourably on the improved exhibit layout, the high calibre of decision-makers present, and the increased business opportunities awarded.

“It’s a good sign that things are turning around,” said Novak, “Altogether, it was a win-win situation.”

Wood agreed, saying, “What an outstanding educational opportunity it was for all who were in Montreal during PaperWeek International.”

PAPTAC honours 73 individuals

The JOHN S. BATES MEMORIAL GOLD MEDAL, in recognition of long-term contributions to the science and technology of the industry, was presented to W. Donald May. Unfortunately, he was not present to receive it.

May came to Canada in 1957 and joined the Pulp and Paper Research Institute of Canada where he worked on the scientific fundamentals of mechanical pulping. He was appointed head of the mechanical physics section in 1967, and continued to work on and manage research into the physics of chip refining and thermomechanical pulping until his retirement in 1990. One of the highlights of this period was the construction and optimization of a 30 tonne a day thermomechanical pulping pilot plant in the Price Company mill at Kenogami, QC. The result was some of the first successful printing runs on a commercial scale of letterpress and rotogravure newsprint made entirely from thermomechanical pulp. Another highlight was the development of the concepts of residence time and refining intensity in high consistency chip refining with his colleague Keith Miles. This theoretical work produced the well-known Miles and May equations for calculating the refining intensity in terms of the refiner design and the operating conditions, which are now used to tailor the properties of mechanical pulps to the energy consumption on a theoretical basis.

He won the I.H. Weldon Award twice, in 1962 and 1975, and was awarded the Asplund Mechanical Pulping Medal in 1991. Together with Keith Miles, he was awarded the prestigious Marcus Wallenberg Prize for path-breaking research into the fundamentals of chip refining in 1998. The prize was presented by King Carl Gustav XVI of Sweden in Stockholm.

An HONORARY LIFE MEMBERSHIP was bestowed upon Norman Liebergott. During his 49 years of service to the industry, Dr. Liebergott has distinguished himself as a leader in pulp bleaching processes. His research in the area of pulp bleaching processes and environmental control has earned him 39 patents. He has published over 100 scientific articles and presented at more than 150 international scientific and technical meetings.

In 1968 and 1971, Dr. Liebergott was awarded the I.H. Weldon Award for Best Paper, the Douglas Jones Environmental Award in 1991, and the Western Branch Award for best technical paper in 1989. He also received numerous TAPPI awards and became a TAPPI Fellow in 1991. Dr. Liebergott is also the recipient of Paprican’s Presidential Citation Award.

The I.H. WELDON AWARD recognizes the best paper presented at a PAPTAC meeting taking place from six months before to six months after the previous Annual Meeting. The winners were Laurie Frederick, Douglas L. Singbeil and Joseph Kish (Paprican), Jerry Yuan (Pacific Simulations), James Keiser (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and Preet Singh (IPST) for their paper Causes and Solutions for Recovery Boiler Primary Air Port Composite Tube Cracking.

Individuals who had been members of PAPTAC for 50 years were recognized: Alan V. Shaw, John E. Houghton, Maurice Moore, James S. Motherwell, John S. Overbagh, Raymond R. Pinard, Archie L. Flora, Frank L. Ramsay, Stewart K. Henry, Charles Skeet, Stephen Steeves, Thomas G. Taylor, Charles M. Williams, Louis H. Wittenberg, Ian T. Pye, Edward T. Barnes, Robert M. Benjamin, James C. Besserer, John Bryce and Allan M. Hubley.

The NATIONAL STUDENT PROBLEM-SOLVING COMPETITION was won by Pierre-Alexandre Levasseur, Trois-Rivires ouest, QC for
his project Augmentation de l’efficacit d’un clarificateur air dissous.

The inaugural presentation of the JPPS BEST PAPER AWARD was made to Maria B. Ezhova, Dominggus Yawalata and Brian R. James (UBC) and Thomas Q. Hu (Paprican) for the paper A New Class of Bleaching and Brightness Stabilizing Agents. Part I: Bleaching of Mechanical Pulps.

The F.G. ROBINSON COMMITTEE SERVICE AWARD is conferred annually upon a chairman of one of the Standing Committees to recognize outstanding service to the industry and to PAPTAC. The award was conferred upon Jean Hamel (Paprican) who served as chairman of the Paper Machine Technology Committee in 2003 and 2004.

The C. HOWARD SMITH AWARD for Best Paper by a Young Member was presented to Patricia Winchell (Norske Canada – Crofton) for her paper Using Multivariate Data Analysis for Process Troubleshooting.

The JOHN S. BATES AWARD is conferred for the best paper presented at a Branch meeting by a member of the Branch. The winners were Martin Dub, Bruno Chabot and Claude Daneault (UQTR — Centre de recherche en ptes et papiers) and Mikko Alava (Helsinki University of Technology, Espoo, Finland) for their paper Fundamentals of Fluid Front Roughening in Imbibition.

The DOUGLAS JONES ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD is conferred for the best paper in the field of environment improvement presented at a PAPTAC meeting. The Award went to Rene Riffon (Papiers Fraser – Thurso) and Claude Asselin (Norbord) for their paper Pilot Testing and Full-scale Implementation of the Low Sludge Production (LSP) Process.

ENERGY CONSERVATION AWARDS are presented to individuals working in the industry who submit the best examples of energy conservation opportunities applied in Canada. Les Papetires du Qubec sponsors this competition.

1st Prize: Jack Smith (Tembec — Smooth Rock Falls) for his Steam and Condensate Optimization.

2nd Prize: Pierre Slusarek and Pierre Sawyer (Smurfit-Stone — La Tuque) for their Batch Digester Steam Stabilization.

3rd Prize: Jean Fiset (Tembec — Spruce Falls) for his Low-Grade and Waste Heat Recovery Reduces Fossil Fuel Usage.

The BRANCH SERVICE AWARD was conferred upon Siew Yong Sim (Howe Sound — Port Mellon) who served as chairman of the Pacific Coast Branch in 2003 and 2004.

Four CERTIFICATES OF APPRECIATION were awarded:

Raymond D. Banham (Advanced Dynamics) for serving as Chairman of the EXFOR Committee for the past 14 years;

Carole Gagn (Cgep de Trois-Rivires) for long-time service to the Comit de francisation des mthodes d’essai and for her dedicated support of the Student Open Houses;

Mary Barnes (PAPTAC’s West Coast Representative); and

Vaughn Munroe, (Natural Resources Canada) for long-time service to the Energy Cost Saving Committee and assisting the pulp and paper industry with energy conservation efforts.

The DOUGLAS ATACK AWARD is given for the best paper presented at the Mechanical Pulping sessions at the previous Annual Meeting. The winners were Michael Crowell, Rick Murphy, George D. Court, Robert Belliveau and Zhiqing Li (Irving Paper – Saint John), Mark Wajer and Aileen Gibson (Martin Marietta Magnesia Specialties – Baltimore), Yonghao Ni (UNB – Limerick Pulp & Paper Centre), and Burton Branch (Neill and Gunter – Fredericton) for their paper Using Magnesium Hydroxide (Mg(OH)2) as the Alkali Source in Peroxide Bleaching at Irving Paper.

The JASPER MARDON MEMORIAL PRIZE for the Best Paper Contributing to the Advancement of Papermaking was presented to Claude Alexander, Ross MacHattie and David Watson (Honeywell Process Solutions) and Oskar Skrgrd (Stora Enso) for their paper Production Results from Control of the Coating Consolidation Process on Coated Carton Board.

The HOWARD RAPSON MEMORIAL AWARD for the best chemical pulp bleaching paper presented at a PAPTAC session was presented to Laurier Morissette (TEXO Consulting & Controls), and Douglas Reid (Eka Chemicals) for their paper The Impact of Sample Temperature on pH of Extraction Stage Filtrates.

The YOUTH SCIENCE FAIR AWARD, given for the best exhibit related to the pulp and paper industry at the Canada-Wide Science Fair, was given to Ryan Idzes, a Grade 8 student from Summerland, BC, for his project Recyclable Insulation! The News Solution?

AWARDS FOR RESEARCH and technical papers, and for service to the Canadian pulp and paper industry, were conferred upon 73 individuals during PaperWeek International, with the winners receiving certificates, gold lapel pins and prizes.

Gadget Competition Winners: Ingenuity at work

Over the years, the Gadget competition has seen some amazing inventions, created by the people who are directly involved in different roles and in direct contact with different pieces of equipment to be found in a pulp and paper mill. With the safety and responsibility of the worker in mind, these people have carefully thought out methods which have made the work both easier and safer for the people involved.

For more than 50 years, Pulp & Paper Canada has proudly sponsored the Gadget Competition and awarded prizes for the inventiveness shown by these people. The level of interest generated by the Gadget Competition was particularly impressive in 2004, with the number of entries up by 12% over 2003. The calibre of the entries was especially high this past year, so the Mechanical Engineering and Maintenance Committee (PAPTAC) who administer the contest decided to award a total of five winning gadgets.

First prize was awarded to Michel St-Cyr of Domtar, Lebel-sur-Quevillon, QC, for his invention of a Self-cleaning “backet”. The chip fragments found in this dumping bin are difficult to empty because the material sticks to the bottom. The operator must shake the “backet” and this action occasionally breaks the equipment. To avoid breaking the lifting mechanism, St-Cyr suggested attaching a sheet of Teflon so that the chip fragments would not stick. This avoided damage to the bins and made the work easier and safer for the workers.

The first father and daughter team entry into this contest, Grant Hooper and Lynn Hooper of Norske Canada, Port Alberni, BC, was awarded second prize, for their gadget, Bearing Puller Plug. The objective was to build a device that would safely remove the drive side inner bearing assembly form the type of suction rolls that are very common in the paper industry and need to be rebuilt every eight to twelve months. The solution was to incorporate a threaded plug and the steel plate into a single unit. The unit is to be shaped and weighted so it will stay in the bearing assembly by itself. The advantage of the new procedure was that the worker has full control of the puller while it is being loaded and there is no danger of miscommunication between workers while one is trapped inside the roll. There were also fewer parts to shift around as the bearing assembly is removed from the roll.

Third place was awarded to Joe Halloran and Ray Hallam of Norske Canada, Crofton, BC, for their novel idea Down Draft Table – Pipefitting Holding Device. Since they were not present to accept their award, Patricia Winchell, also of Norske Canada, accepted it for them. Their entry consisted of a device to hold pipe fittings firmly over a down draft burning table in order to stop all the dust and filings from becoming air borne since stainless grindings are extremely hazardous if inhaled.

This year, there were two gadgets worthy of honorable mention.

It is worth noting that the next winner has had previous success in the Gadget Competition, having won first place in 1990. Basel Buckle of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, submitted the entry Bearing Alignment Plate. This device was designed to hold self alignment bearings in p
lace while removing and installing bearing housings. The plate makes the job easier but most important it allows the housing to slide on with ease and there is no damage caused to any new bearings that was replaced. Eugene Mercier of Corner Brook Pulp and Paper accepted the award for Basil Buckle.

There was also an honourable mention for Jean-Pierre Audet (Abitibi-Consolidated – Clermont) for his gadget Dryer felt and press trimmer. The primary objective of this device was to trim the edges of the dryer or wet felt press along its length where it was damaged by the friction with the equipment or when, for whatever reason, the felt length has become larger than the roll itself. Equally, this device can replace the outdated methods which were less safe and efficient.

Many of these gadgets have been in use for months or years and have helped our industry in small but important ways. These thoughtful and insightful inventions should be encouraged, as well as brought to public attention so that others in the same situation can benefit, saving money to various operations and improving safety at different levels. Pulp & Paper Canada would like to thank all those who entered gadgets in the 2004 Competition and would also like to thank the Mechanical Engineering and Maintenance Committee of PAPTAC for helping with the competition. PPC encourages everyone to review the many novel ideas that appear in the Gadget book published by PAPTAC.

Business Luncheon

It was a cautious roundup to a somewhat judicious, though constructive, week. The PaperWeek business luncheon, hosted by PAPTAC and FPAC, summarized the sentiment that appeared to colour many aspects of the four-day event. “We’re fighting to keep our position,” said FPAC president and CEO Avrim Lazar. “We have some advantages, but we have to have the freedom to be light on our feet. We will only succeed if we radically innovate.”

By Heather Lynch

Lazar elaborated on the ways in which tariffs and trade barriers maintain a chokehold on productivity for the Canadian pulp and paper industry, claiming that a lack of government support will force the industry to look for other options. “Relying on a U.S. market makes us particularly vulnerable to tariffs, taxes and customs. But this means we have a choice. For 50 years we have renewed, but to find new business, all we have to do is speed it up. When you’re trying to sell Kleenex, you don’t wait for the customer to come to you. You go to them and tell them their nose is dripping.”

Lazar’s enthusiasm was matched by that of PAPTAC’s new chairman Scott Travers, who appealed to his audience to collectively address some of the most salient issues and challenges currently facing the industry. “We’re surviving the storm, but many people depend on this industry staying in Canada,” he said. “We have to be up to the challenge to keep this industry healthy.” Although Travers also touched upon contentions that ran through many of the week’s events as a common thread, he maintained a positive approach, contending that it isn’t too late to rejuvenate the Canadian industry and prop it back up as a major player on an international scale. However, the president and COO of Minas Basin Pulp & Paper Company implored industry players to work together to find solutions and to take advantage of industry associations, namely PAPTAC, that provide resources, support and information to members. “It’s true that we may compete against each other, but at the same time, we share technology, we share information, we help each other. I encourage anyone who comes into this industry, to become a PAPTAC member, to partake in the sense of community it offers. I also strongly encourage those of you who have been in the industry for a number of years to become a PAPTAC mentor.” Travers spoke of his personal value of having a mentor, explaining that the reassurance that came from having someone to guide him along his way prompted him to accept the position of PAPTAC chairman. “I was hesitant about the amount of time required for the job,” he readily admitted. “But Peter Tyne assured me that it wasn’t a problem, that he would always be there to help. He did an outstanding job, and he did that job with exceptional leadership. I’m truly honoured to be filling his shoes. They’re big shoes to fill.”

Continuous improvement and operational excellence

By Anya Orzechowska, Managing Editor

“It might sound a little dry,” said Bob Leslie, mill manager of Millar Western’s Whitecourt mill, speaking of the title of the Forum, “but, in fact, this is a subject of the most intense personal interest to all of us.

“What could be more important to any of us here today — mill managers and others — than the drive to ensure our mills are performing at their optimum level…that we are achieving the kind of business success needed to ensure ongoing survival in a competitive global industry?”

After all, Leslie pointed out, “our jobs depend on it.”

Leslie attributed the drive for continuous improvement at his mill to the personal commitment of the people who work there. It is, he said, an outstanding workforce of highly-skilled, highly-motivated employees who contributed to every success. “They work very hard — every day — to keep our costs low, keep our productivity high, expand our markets and maintain the value of our assets.”

Having faced the same challenges as the other mill managers in Canada, Leslie said the fact that his mill had a competitive position in the industry due to constantly striving for better performance.

Whitecourt’s advantage was to hire the best and retain them, which means keeping wages and benefits competitive but also taking on the challenge of ensuring everyone’s work is satisfying, rewarding and appreciated.

“At Whitecourt,” he stated proudly, “75% of the operators who were with us for mill start-up in 1988 are still with our company, over 17 years later.”

He advised a system whereby employees have the tools to get the job done right, they have opportunities for career development and job satisfaction, and they feel they have a personal stake in the company’s success. In this way, people have a pride of ownership in their mill and a vested interest in its optimal performance.

“If you want things done right in your mill, you’ve got to listen first to the people who do the work,” Leslie emphasized. “You need their inside expertise.”

Rgis Rehel, director general of Cascades Transportation, has championed continuous improvement implementations for over 10 years and uses a technique that involves coaching, facilitation and challenge to enable the change process.

To illustrate one of the important points of his speech, Rehel asked for audience participation. Once everyone was on their feet, a comparison was made between the difficulty of balancing while standing on one leg with eyes closed, to the much easier task of balancing with eyes opened. Rehel stated, “If you are doing something, and you don’t have a point to focus on, don’t bother.”

With action plans involving change, Rehel stressed the importance of performance management. He listed the essentials for change, including: leadership, vision, skills, incentive, resources and plan. When any of these were missing, he said, the results were slow at best but more often negative.

Based on his experience in Cascades with plant by plant basics, Rehel listed the lessons which should be learned:

* Clarify the “Why”, then “What”

* Ensure a transfer of knowledge

* Allow participation and choice

* Coach managers

* Build an in-house approach by unit

* Listen to feedback and adjusting

* Evolve using the same principles and values

Applying a “made in the can” approach rarely works, Rehel said, “And anything that’s imposed is opposed.” Success does not come through external sources but through the resources an
d people who are there already.

Rehel concluded by saying, “If you can get the people to buy into the program, then you are winning.”

Jim Gartshore, vice president, Energy Engineering & Continuous Improvement at Abitibi-Consolidated, explained the Four Pillars of the Operating System which guide his company on the road to continuous improvement. First is Operational Strategy, which consists of running the right assets at the right time. Second is Leading Change, referring to relentlessly upgrading the talent pool. The third is a circle of actions: Stretching performance management cycles, includes set stretch targets vs. technical limits, plan and implement, track and adjust, and then integrate with HR/budgets. Finally, the fourth pillar of the operating system is turbo-charging the way we learn from each other.

This operating system should be used throughout the mill since it would help create detailed guidelines on how to improve.

Gartshore also spoke of the Blitz Strategy, which he described as a systematic process that achieves concrete results in a short time frame using a multi-disciplinary team. This strategy was successful, he claimed, since it had a clear mandate and the power to change things through management support and presence.

Since customer focus is one of Abitibi-Consolidated’s core values, the roadmaps for operational strategy are customer-focused. Gartshore gave the example of a need for runnability that was critical to the customer which led to a study of what was critical to quality (study of fibre cuts) and what was critical to the process (shive reduction).

In summary, the operating system has been proven to lower costs and to improve on quality. One of the difficulties, however, said Gartshore, “was the constant challenge to get people to share their knowledge.”

Jean-Claude Savard of JCS Consultants shared his expertise in adapting world-class tools and methodologies to the pulp and paper industry. Emphatic about one of his key points, he said, “What hurts companies the most is low expectations. We need to target something that makes a difference.” After all, without a goal, “it’s for sure that nothing will happen.”

Pushing up the ceiling is a good goal. People who are established for a long time are the most difficult to change. Generally, people do not push enough to get results. “You must be positively aggressive,” he instructed the audience.

Overall, a crucial message concerned the importance of learning and sustaining the knowledge. Companies pay a big price for not building a learning capability into the organization, he claimed.

“The more systematic in continuous improvement,” Savard concluded, “the more significant is the chance to keep the plant alive for the next 10-15 years.”


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