Looking for Comments on the Paper Industry

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Can someone address the status of the paper producing industry? i worked in a "pulp-mill" as a summer job during college. Pulp in this sense is a paper-like product which is a raw material shipped out to producers of commercial paper products. Those producers refine the pulp to their specifications.

The mill I worked in was powered by its own power plant. Barges loaded with fuel oil came up the river, docked at the plant and had their contents piped to the plant. Also mixed with the fuel oil was some bark and other tree by-products which were not used in the pulp itself.

The pulp mill was an incredibly complex operation. Its own power plant (which by the way, sold a significant amount of power back to the grid), the pulp mill itself and then a water treatment plant which could have served a medium-size city. The pulp milling process actually took up very little of the plant acreage. Most of the acreage was water treatment, power generation and rail yard.

The plant was extremely automated. In fact, during a strike in the mid 1980s, management ran the entire plant for a very extended period of time, I think about one year. The union finally agreed to return to work at wages which may have been lower than when they struck. I think deferred maintenance finally caught up with the plant and management was not adept at the maintenance function. But the point is, pulp can be produced with very little sweat due to automation.

So here we have a microcosm of a y2k world. Power generation, water treatment, thousands of embedded systems, total dependence on rail systems (pulp can't be stored outside-warehouse space is extremely limited), very limited regulatory oversight to prod compliance, what are the odds they'll come through this unscathed?

Got paper products?

-- Puddintame (dit@dot.com), February 08, 1999



Groundbreaking is expected near here next month on a $750 million newsprint mill. It will have two machines, requires four megawatts of power and the availability of millions of gallons of water. It is an immense project, yet will employ less that 350 people when it goes on line. Obviously, it will be highly automated. The company considered cogeneration, but opted to purchase power from the regional utility. All of this presupposes, of course, that newsprint will be needed two years hence.

-- Vic (Roadrunner@compliant.com), February 08, 1999.


I don't know about the paper industry, but how about a related industry that depends on trees...pencils. Here is a good description of all the steps involved in getting the wood from a forest into your hand as a pencil.


"I, Pencil"

-- Kevin (mixesmusic@worldnet.att.net), February 08, 1999.


That's a good one!

The odds? Do you know the meaning of the phrase "fat chance"? :-)

BTW, I have the impression that pulp plants use lots of bleach, perhaps some form of chlorine, perhaps others. If so, there's another possible supply and/or control problem.

Yep, better pick up some more paper products.


-- Jerry B (skeptic76@erols.com), February 08, 1999.

We've modelled paper companies in 3D in the past - they are tremendously complex, highly automated, and very fast paced: they process hundreds of thousands of tons of paper and chemical. Much of it to very tight tolerances (tens of thousandths of an inch at thousands of feet per second!)

Just went through bunch of past paper industry trade magazines -> literally hundreds of implied and direct references to automation, chemical and process controls, and plant regulation and monitoring - some to improve profits, some to control inventory, set roll pressures and shrink distances, coating thicknesses, chemical spec's, environmental and chemical controls, boiler regulation, etc.

Only two sentences on Y2K - both in the Oct 1998 "Papermaker" - One in a column to IT managers aknowledging that that plant must be made Year 2000 compliant, snuck in there in 6 columns of (more important) stuff.

The second was a big full page ad from "REAL Intentia Group" (IBM business partner, apparently) that warns users they must replace their AS/400 computers. Quoting the ad:

"Even if you start today, you'll probably have to take a series of time consuming, not-always reliable steps...unless you (buy their .... replacement program.)

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (cook.r@csaatl.com), February 08, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ