Scott Paper Gives a Second Life to Its Crabtree Mill
By Pulp & Paper Canada
By Pulp & Paper Canada
These days, it looks like most of the major capital projects in the Canadian pulp and paper industry are taking place in the province of Quebec. After Gaspsia Papers and Kruger Wayagamack Inc. in Tro…
These days, it looks like most of the major capital projects in the Canadian pulp and paper industry are taking place in the province of Quebec. After Gaspsia Papers and Kruger Wayagamack Inc. in Trois-Rivires, Scott Paper (a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kruger Inc. since 1997) is investing $116.4 million in its mills in Crabtree, near Joliette in the Lanaudire region, and in Lennoxville, in the Eastern Townships.
The biggest share of the pie is going to the Crabtree mill where a new tissue paper machine is being installed, along with two conversion lines. The project is funded in part by a Quebec government subsidiary, Investment Quebec, which is putting $11.1 million in the project (as a refundable loan). Inno-Pap, another government organization, is helping with a non-refundable contribution of $16.6 million. Kruger Inc. and Scott Paper are financing the rest of the project. One of the reasons why the Quebec government was eager to involve itself in the project is that not only will it secure the existing 636 jobs at the Crabtree mill, but it will also create 60 new positions, which is welcome news in the region.
In Crabtree, this represents more a salvation than an investment. Scott Paper Canada bought the Crabtree Mills Company in 1957, added PM 3 two years after and PM 4 in 1971. Since then, no major investment was done in the mill and the equipment in place was getting out of shape. With the arrival of Kruger Inc. at the helm of the company, choices had to be made in order to give a second wind to the installation. Other than Scott Paper mills in Crabtree, Lennoxville, Hull and New Westminster (BC), Kruger also owns tissue paper mills in Venezuela, Colombia and Great Britain. Its expertise in that field is excellent.
But Kruger is firmly implanted in the province of Quebec and it somehow has the knack for salvaging mills and entire communities. This was the case recently when the company purchased the Wayagamack mill from Abitibi-Consolidated to turn it into a value-added paper mill. This time, the whole Joliette region really benefits from the project since the Crabtree mill is one of a few and important job providers. But beyond the good deed, Scott Paper is investing in high tech equipment to lower its production costs and increase its productivity.
“Without this project, the long-term future of the mill was compromised,” says Donald Cayouette, CEO of Scott Paper Canada, without any hesitation. “It is a crucial project for the region and we worked hard with our partners to make it happen. And let me add this: the Crabtree mill employees did their big part by opening the bargaining agreement and making it more flexible so we could really work on the project and secure the long-term future of the mill.” The actual five-year agreement, which was running from 2001 to 2006, has been extended to 2009.
Sixth tissue manufacturer in the world
Scott Paper Canada, which was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Scott Paper Worldwide, was acquired by Kruger in 1997. Three years before, Scott Worldwide was tackling important financial issues and after cleaning up its act, the company was bought by American paper giant, Kimberly-Clark. To abide by the United States antitrust rules, K-C had to dismantle Scott Worldwide and sold Scott Paper Canada to Kruger Inc. Because of that, Kruger now controls about 30% of the global tissue paper market.
The company is divided into two sectors, Consumer Products and Away-from-Home and Industrial Products. The Consumer Products sector makes and distributes bathroom tissues, facial tissues, towels and napkins for retailers such as Loblaws and Jean Coutu drugstores. The Away-from-Home sector also produces and distributes bathroom tissues and napkins for industries, institutions and restaurants.
Its trademarks are widely known: Cottonelle (bathroom tissue), Purex (various products in Western Canada), White-Cloud (in the U.S.), White Swan and Duvet. Scott Paper Canada also handles private retailers trademarks such as Loblaws. In towels, Scott manufactures Scott Towels, White Swan and Viva. The company also offers Scotties facial tissue and White Swan napkins.
With the addition of a new paper machine, Scott Paper Crabtree will be able to produce up to 100 000 tonnes/year (300 t/d) of bathroom tissues, facial tissues and towels. The Lennoxville mill can produce up to 25 000 tonnes/year (65 t/d) of tissue-based paper, while the Hull mill produces up to 90 000 tonnes/year of bathroom tissues, facial tissues, napkins and towels.
A brand new machine
The new tissue paper machine in Crabtree is la pice de rsistance of the whole project. Metso is supplying the equipment, with the assistance of its satellite plants in Karlstad, Sweden; Valkeakoski, Finland and Thunder Bay, ON.
The machine will have an annual capacity of 30 000 tonnes/year of paper, which will then be converted to bathroom tissue on-site. The PM will be supplied with virgin fibre pulp (chemical and kraft) and recycled pulp (deinked), according to market demands and product specifications.
The machine has a wire width of 2.7 meters and can reach an average speed of 2000 meters/minute.
Like other paper machines devoted to tissue production, Crabtree’s PM will be equipped with a Crescent former. The Metso Periformer is the most common concept today for new machines producing dry-crepe tissue. The Crescent former provides the most attractive concept both from a cost and space point of view, according to a Metso representative. It has also proven to be the most suitable concept for production of paper tissue with a high recycled content.
The sheet is actually formed between a forming wire and felt that wrap a solid forming roll. When drainage is completed, the formed sheet is already on the felt. That felt carries the sheet directly to the pressure roll and Yankee dryer. This eliminates the pick-up function required by other machine concepts.
This part of the process requires a short period of time but it is an intensive drying method. For a conventional dry crepe machine, the system consists of a Yankee dryer and associated high velocity, high temperature impingement hood. The Yankee dryer really is the heart of the machine, as it works as a press roll, dries the sheet together with the hood, and finally prepares the surface for the creping process. “This means that the Yankee dryer must perform well in all its functions to meet production and paper quality demands. Since the Yankee dryer also is a complex mechanical structure, exposed to steam pressure, there are extremely high demands on safety and operational reliability,” points out our contact at Metso.
The project at the Crabtree mill also includes two winders for hygienic paper, the automation of one wrapping line for finished product cases, and the addition of a new robotized line for unitization of the cases.
The new Metso machine will come equipped with Metso Automation DCS and QCS. Scott Paper Canada chose ABB to supply drives and motors. At the dry end of the machine, Paper Converting Machine Company (PCMC) supplies all winders. Casing is provided by Edson and wrapping by Casmatic. Other suppliers are participating to the project (see box for details), under the project management of Kruger/Scott Paper Canada (Kruger usually prefers calling the shots — it is also managing the Wayagamack project). Engineering work has been divided amongst Gnivel BPR and Amec.
The new paper machine will use a proprietary technology for which Scott Paper owns a license.
“This will allow us to answer the future needs of the Canadian market with superior quality products,” says Cayouette. “The objective is not really to launch new products on the market as it is more about making our current line of products better, while expanding our views beyond the border, at the American market, for example.”
Recently, Scott Paper acquired owning rights on the White Cloud trademark in the U.S. and signed an agreement with Wal-Mart USA for exclusive rights on this trademark. “With our mill network in Quebec, in British Columbia, and a new acquisition in th
e Southern United States, and with our brand new converting plant in Calgary, AB, we will be able to meet the requirements of Wal-Mart USA, which will be our opened door in Uncle Sam’s country. This will likely trigger other growth opportunities elsewhere in the country,” Cayouette reasons.
As of March 31st, construction of the new building structure, where the new paper machine is being installed, has been completed. Workers were just adding the finishing touch outside the building, closing everything properly. Piping and equipment installation was under way. The project required 60 000 hours of engineering work and 250 000 hours of construction work, including the management of various steps of the project. At the peak of construction, 300 workers were on the site.
“The work is progressing well, within our schedule,” Cayouette adds. “Everything will be completed in June, followed by machine startup and a testing period.” Scott Paper estimates that commercial production on the machine should begin in August-September.
The timetable for the work to be done in Lennoxville is not clear yet. The base paper mill, acquired by Scott Paper in 1978, will have the wet end of its paper machine reconfigured, in order to improve paper quality and to increase the machine’s speed.
“We are still studying this part of the project,” Cayouette confirms. “We are at the preliminary engineering stage and a couple of scenarios are still possible. No supplier has been chosen at this time, but everything will be done in 2004.”
At the moment, the Lennoxville mill is busy evaluating the impact of its new Yankee dryer installed about three months ago. The new equipment was provided by PremiAir of Montreal, QC.
A world in itself
The tissue paper sector really appears to be a world in itself, somehow isolated from the rest of the pulp and paper industry. Its market does not behave the same way the newsprint or market pulp markets do.
“Tissue paper is different because it is a very linear market,” says Cayouette. It is less cyclical because it heavily relies on population. The growth rate of the market is very similar to the one of population, roughly 1.5% per year,” he adds.
The penetration rate of tissue paper in homes is far better than any other type of paper. “Who does not have bathroom tissue or boxes of facial tissue at home? These commodity products are related to everyday personal needs,” Cayouette adds.
Tissue paper is also an extremely competitive sector, which explains the secrecy surrounding its fabrication, each manufacturer attempting to protect its products and markets with trademarks and exclusive licenses.
More and more retailers require a North American presence from their paper suppliers and this is exactly why Scott Paper Canada is seriously expanding in the United States right now.
“This competitiveness also takes its roots because tissue paper marketing happens at two different levels: consumer and retailer,” Cayouette explains. “We, as suppliers, have to satisfy both: our product has to be appealing on the retailer’s shelves, and also meet very specific criteria with consumers, being a blend of softness and resistance at the lowest price possible. You don’t see all of that in other paper markets.”
What is also not seen in other paper markets, is the heavy presence of American products on Canadian soil. “The competition is really fierce in that area,” Cayouette acknowledges. “You won’t see that on the newsprint market, for instance. Canada is a big newsprint exporter but we don’t import at all from the United States.” He adds, “The newsprint domestic market is all in Canadian hands.”
Which would explain why the growth strategy of Scott Paper Canada necessarily takes place on both sides of the border. “More and more retailers require a North American presence from their paper suppliers and this is exactly why Scott Paper Canada is seriously expanding in the U.S. right now,” Cayouette explains. “To meet that goal, we have to rely on a strategic network of installations because tissue paper cannot be moved on long distances. It’s a fragile product that degrades easily when moved over long distances.”
On the long term, Cayouette is very confident about the future of Scott Paper Canada. “We benefit from a very interesting network of mills and converting plants. Of course, we are always looking at other growth opportunities, especially in the Canadian Prairies and in the American Midwest region, where we still have long distances to cross.”
The company invests $116 million in a new paper machine and in the wet end improvement of its machine in Lennoxville, QC
Main suppliers on the Scott Paper Canada, Crabtree project (as of March 31st, 2003)
Metso Paper: paper machine, DCS, QCS
Paper Converting Machine Company: finished product winder
Gnivel BPR + Amec: engineering
ABB: drives and motors
Casmatic: finished products wrapper
Edson: caissing system
Mcanique CMC: small diameter piping
Ganotec: big diameter piping
Bruneau lectrique: power
Nico Mtal: steel structure
Liard Mcanique: mechanical work
Bernard Malo Inc: excavation
Construction Sorel: Foundation