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Week of 30 March 2020: Brave new world: How do you do maintenance with a 6 foot separation between employees?
Week of 30 March 2020: Brave new world: How do you do maintenance with a 6 foot separation between employees?

The first thing that popped into my mind was to dress all your maintenance people in pre-Civil War hoop skirted ball gowns. Although it will maintain the distance, I can think of many other reasons this won’t work. For the future, this just emphasizes more predictive maintenance and solid maintenance monitoring. If you know the condition of your equipment and the failure curve it is on, you can plan on how to prepare it in a timely fashion.

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Week of 23 March 2020: Maintenance Contractors need to step up their game
Week of 23 March 2020: Maintenance Contractors need to step up their game

OK, everything today is coronavirus. No matter which way you turn. Reminds me of a year's worth of Reader's Digest that I bought at a flea market years ago. The year was 1944 and nearly every story in every issue of that year was about the war. Well, one might say we are in a war now. If you are a maintenance contractor, likely you need to step up your game.

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Week of 16 March 2020: Ford vs. Ferrari
Week of 16 March 2020: Ford vs. Ferrari

When you look at auto racing, at least 50% of the difference between winners and losers is maintenance. The recent movie, Ford vs. Ferrari, drives this point home. Watch the movie, watch the maintenance. You just may learn something and improve your operations.

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Week of 9 March 2020: What to maintain?
Week of 9 March 2020: What to maintain?

Seems like a simple question, but it is often missed. How do you determine what to maintain? It starts with what you intend to keep. How do you determine what to keep?

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Week of 2 March 2020: Maintenance Again
Week of 2 March 2020: Maintenance Again

“Maintenance Again” is pronounced in many mills with a slight groan and downward inflection in the voice. In many CFO offices, the words “Maintenance Again” are recognized about as easily as any phrase in Klingon. By the way, you can translate “Maintenance Again” to Klingon—it is “leH jatlhqa” so don’t let the person holding the checkbook in your mill get by with feigning ignorance of the necessity of maintenance, no matter what language you use. I have been writing this column for over eighteen years and I have railed against the cheap maintenance managers for nearly fifty years. It is absolutely criminal to not do prescribed maintenance.

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Week of 24 February 2020: Transportation entities must watch their Public Relations
Week of 24 February 2020: Transportation entities must watch their Public Relations

Whether truck, rail, air or jitney, transportation companies often have a public relations problem.

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Week of 17 February 2020: Conveyors are transportation, too!
Week of 17 February 2020: Conveyors are transportation, too!

Throughout my career, I have seen lots of goods moved within many facilities' sites...

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Week of 10 February 2020: Cancer!
Week of 10 February 2020: Cancer!

Expecting a column on transportation here in February, you may have been slightly startled by this week's column title. This is the way cancer strikes, you are going along, minding your own business, planning what you'll do next and cancer rears its ugly head.

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Week of 3 February 2020: What's developed in transportation in the last year?
Week of 3 February 2020: What's developed in transportation in the last year?

We last visited transportation in February of 2019. What's new?

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Week of 27 January 2020: Dainty and Rugged Capital Projects
Week of 27 January 2020: Dainty and Rugged Capital Projects

I have seen few project engineers successfully transfer their skills between the two extremes of the paper industry. On the front end, we find incoming long wood, chippers, chip piles and so forth. At the other end of the business, we find printing and packaging lines with the daintiest of doodads, which must nevertheless work properly and flawlessly for long periods of time.

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Week of 20 January 2020: Leveraging Capital Negotiations
Week of 20 January 2020: Leveraging Capital Negotiations

If you have the corporate foresight to do so, leveraged buying can provide tremendous savings for the procurer and savings for the supplier as well.

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Week of 13 January 2020: The Emotion in Capital Budgets
Week of 13 January 2020: The Emotion in Capital Budgets

When you are in the trenches looking up, it is often easy to see the perceived capriciousness of capital budgets. Hence, as the project manager overseeing the actual project implementation, it is sometimes easy to be lackadaisical about the funding. Do this at your own peril.

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Week of 6 January 2020: Do low interest rates make for sloppy capital projects?
Week of 6 January 2020: Do low interest rates make for sloppy capital projects?

I have been around long enough to remember when retail interest rates were in the +20% range. At the time, corporations were not usually being charged at these levels, but they did reach into the mid-teens. The usual reaction at that point was not to do capital projects, but to wait. Even if corporations were self-funding, they often waited because they could make larger and safer returns with their money at interest in the bank. Today, interest rates are trivial, even for construction loans. Gone are the days when there was a sharp focus on construction interest costs.

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Week of 30 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hubris and Finality
Week of 30 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hubris and Finality

As we wrap up December's Power & Energy Emphasis, I want to offer a caution or two.

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Week of 23 December 2019: Power & Energy: Fossil Fuels
Week of 23 December 2019: Power & Energy: Fossil Fuels

I have admonished readers a number of times over the years not to demolish their fossil fuel-powered assets. Although they may be out of favor at the moment, history indicates nothing is ever permanent in the energy sector.

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Week of 16 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hydroelectric
Week of 16 December 2019: Power & Energy: Hydroelectric

Hydroelectric power has been a significant component in pulp and paper mills for over 120 years. Early modern paper mills quickly adopted electric power produced by streams near their facilities. It was a natural--the pulp and paper mills needed water and when the ability to generate hydroelectric power came along they quickly built dams and harnessed this renewable power.

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Week of 9 December 2019: Solar is getting closer to making economic sense without subsidies
Week of 9 December 2019: Solar is getting closer to making economic sense without subsidies

Solar cells are continuing to improve in efficiency. My best source tells me that within a few years, we will likely be seeing solar arrays of multiple layers, each layer tuned to a particular wavelength emitted by the sun. Why is this important now?

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Week of 2 December 2019: For the 46th Year in a row...energy is a big topic
Week of 2 December 2019: For the 46th Year in a row...energy is a big topic

I largely look at energy on a cost avoidance basis. Yes, we all want clean air (low emissions) but let's not go crazy following ideas that are not well proven scientifically (don't send me surveys on what scientists believe about energy consumption--people's opinions are not science). Nevertheless, when looking at places where energy is dear makes me realize we still have a long way to go to make our industry as efficient as possible.

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Week of 25 November 2019: Creativity, the imperfect mortar in the Innovation and Strategy Structure
Week of 25 November 2019: Creativity, the imperfect mortar in the Innovation and Strategy Structure

If the problems with Innovation and Strategy are that we can never be certain as to how they will turn out, Creativity, the mortar that holds the other two together, suffers this fate in an even larger measure.

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Week of 18 November 2019: Strategy Pitfalls
Week of 18 November 2019: Strategy Pitfalls

There is the old children's story of the blind men describing an elephant. As the story goes each one of them walks around the elephant and feels different parts of it. As they do so, each has a different impression of what an elephant might be, based on the parts they touch. Some companies operate as the blind men did when it comes to setting a future course--their strategy. They are so lost in their myopic view of the world they miss the big picture.

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Week of 11 November 2019: Sources of Innovation
Week of 11 November 2019: Sources of Innovation

Many years ago, when I purchased a motorcycle, I wanted the equivalent of a "cruise control" for it. I shopped around and found this clever little mechanical device that fits on the right handlebar and gently locks the accelerator into position. With the flick of a handy little lever, you could turn it off. My cousin, a machinist, saw this and said, "I can copy that." I didn't let him. I think inventions should belong to the originator in perpetuity (I think we should still be paying royalties to the descendants of the inventor of tables and chairs--marvelous inventions in and of themselves). At least that is the way I used to think...

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Week of 4 November 2019: Innovation
Week of 4 November 2019: Innovation

This is innovation and strategy month here at Nip Impressions. The sources of innovation (which can either lead or lag a strategic vision) are many. These days, it is popular to do innovation in an institutional environment with government or other deep pocket funding. That’s OK, however there is another way of which I am fond. That is when we do innovation out of necessity or when a bright entrepreneur has an “Aha!” moment. Here is one of those...

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Week of 28 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 4
Week of 28 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 4

In my travels this past spring and summer, I saw the matters I described in these four columns. In fact, I saw a lot more than I have had space to share. The urban settings were difficult enough, but what really struck me was one rural scene I saw and with which I have a history.

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Week of 21 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 3
Week of 21 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 3

The question for this week gets a bit tougher as we look at quality in a different way.

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Week of 14 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 2
Week of 14 October 2019: A whole different look at Quality, part 2

We talked about lobbies last week. This week let's imagine a valued customer showing up at your facility unannounced. What would they see? What would be their reaction? From what I have seen in my travels this year, I'll give you some examples.

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