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Management Side

Writer for Nip Impressions

Recent Articles

Week of 15 April 2024: Cell Phone Safety

Week of 15 April 2024: Cell Phone Safety

In most jurisdictions, it is illegal to hold a cell phone while driving a car. Yet in most paper mills, one does not see this sort of restriction, indeed, anything close to it. Should we have similar restrictions in mills? I think so...there is almost no place in a pulp and paper mill where a phone is appropriate.

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Week of 8 April 2024: Macho Nonsense

Week of 8 April 2024: Macho Nonsense

I must admit I did this back in the day, and I recently heard this practice still happens. Hourly workers are usually protected from this, with or without unions, so it is a practice where one needs to focus on the management ranks. I am talking about ridiculously long working periods.

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Week of 1 April 2024: The role of standards in safety

Week of 1 April 2024: The role of standards in safety

Observing mill engineering departments for a few decades, I've noticed a haphazard application of well known nationally and internationally recognized standards in small, mill originated upgrade projects. I'll even admit that, decades ago, I likely participated in this negligence. Standards are created for a reason.

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Week of 25 March 2024: How to fix your maintenance--really

Week of 25 March 2024: How to fix your maintenance--really

This is the column I promised you last week. Your reaction will be either scoffing at it or believing it--there will be no middle of the road reactions. If you decide to believe, contact me and I will help you, at no charge, to get started.

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Week of 18 March 2024: Maintenance as a morale booster

Week of 18 March 2024: Maintenance as a morale booster

I don't think I have ever been around more depressing pulp and paper mills than those experiencing poor maintenance. The only thing that can drive morale down faster is producing a product in a declining market (anyone remember newsprint?). Sadly, many senior managers view maintenance as a cost.

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Week of 11 March 2024: Maintenance on the fringes

Week of 11 March 2024: Maintenance on the fringes

Sometimes I think maintenance suffers from "macho disease." We talk about changing out press rolls, monitoring machine bearings and other sorts of "big deal" maintenance projects. I would hate to think how many times I have been exposed to pump and motor alignment. Yes, it is an important subject, but it is not everything. There are other things that can shut you down, too (or at least cause you to lie).

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Week of 5 March 2024: Maintenance--my favorite month

Week of 5 March 2024: Maintenance--my favorite month

It is my favorite month because maintenance can pay huge dividends. Or maintenance can kill you if you ignore it. I've told many mill related tales of maintenance in this column over the years. For some reason, when I started to think about maintenance for this year's column series, I went back to my youth and some maintenance disasters that took place when I was a teenager at home.

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Week of 26 February 2024: A Possible Answer?

Week of 26 February 2024: A Possible Answer?

We have spent the last three weeks talking about transportation issues and challenges in the pulp and paper industry today. About a year ago, I had an epiphany in the transportation and warehousing area. I went out and got a "patent pending" status on it. Due to all my other activities, I only feebly marketed it. At the time, my idea was to sell the idea. In the meantime, I have now decided to present it here for you to ponder.

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Week of 19 February 2024: Stop moving stuff

Week of 19 February 2024: Stop moving stuff

Jerry Seinfeld has an old joke that goes like this. He is out driving in a rural area. He passes a log truck. Then he meets a log truck coming towards him. He asks, "If the people over here need logs and the people over there have logs, couldn't they just call each other up and avoid driving these logs all over the place?" It got a big laugh. Of course, real life is not this simple.

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Week of 12 February 2024: Watch the terminations in transportation

Week of 12 February 2024: Watch the terminations in transportation

To borrow from last week, I don't care if it is the bar of soap going down the conveyor or the shipment of pulp from Brazil, the costs in transportation is the onloading and the offloading. These termination points are also the points most susceptible to mishandling and accidents. Granted the load must be secured appropriately, depending on the application, but you'll find the problems and the costs are at the ends.

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Week of 5 February 2024: Transportation Thoughts

Week of 5 February 2024: Transportation Thoughts

It is transportation month here at Nip Impressions, and there is a lot to talk about. I almost titled this first column of the month "Transportation Follies" but then thought better of it. There certainly are many transportation follies in the headlines these days. However, I thought I would spend this first column of the month in a cerebral fashion. What do you think of when you think about transportation?

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Week of 29 January 2024: Dishonest Dealings in Capital Projects

Week of 29 January 2024: Dishonest Dealings in Capital Projects

I promised you this column last week. Everyone in a capital project is under pressure. The mill team is under pressure to bring the project in on budget (remember how you kept shaving the budget to get the project through the board of directors?). The suppliers are under pressure to win the project at the highest possible profit for them, and will promise the moon, if they don't have to put it in writing. And this is all good, for it gives an old guy like me a steady income as an expert witness in project lawsuits. The grayer and thinner my hair has gotten, the more I can charge.

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Week of 22 January 2024: Nothing Magical

Week of 22 January 2024: Nothing Magical

I have served as an expert witness in several capital project cases (dare I say disasters?). How do projects end up in this condition (disasters)? There only seem to be two major causes of such fates. The first is believing in magic and the second is dishonest dealings. We'll cover magic this week.

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Week of 15 January 2024: Foolish Capital Choices

Week of 15 January 2024: Foolish Capital Choices

There have been several capital decisions in recent years that have left me scratching my head. In these cases, a great deal of funds have been expended to clean out old paper machine halls for the express purpose of installing new machines of a different grade.

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Week of 8 January 2024: Beware the Package Deal

Week of 8 January 2024: Beware the Package Deal

Back when I started in the industry, one bought everything for their new machine, printing press, or flexofolder/gluer piecemeal. Yes, there was a primary machinery supplier, but the capital project team and the project engineers bought everything else separately and integrated it all into one concomitant system. Due to growth of the industry, project teams became less experienced, and the system fell apart. Startup dates and startup curves were missed because of missing but vital components. Major machine suppliers had ready excuses for not meeting performance guarantees and there was a lot of finger pointing.

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Week of 1 January 2024: What you can't see can hurt you

Week of 1 January 2024: What you can't see can hurt you

I am speaking about the capital projects sector for 2024 and going forward a bit.

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Week of 25 December 2023: Keeping the gas and electricity flowing to our mills this winter

Week of 25 December 2023: Keeping the gas and electricity flowing to our mills this winter

I am sure you have heard the story many times about how I lost all steam producing capability in a northeastern Ohio mill in the winter of 1987. It was early February and temperatures had plunged to -20 F. I was not at the mill at the time, but no difference, both the powerhouse and the maintenance departments reported to me...

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Week of 18 December 2023: Conserving Water

Week of 18 December 2023: Conserving Water

As you have probably noticed by now, I have taken a bit of a cynical view in this power and energy month here at Nip Impressions. I tend to do this when secular subjects become so widespread and accepted as the whole truth, all other theories be damned. Experience and logic tell me that such widespread, cult like belief must have a few cracks somewhere and those cracks must be explored. Thus, I will continue down this path this week and next.

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Week of 11 December 2023: Do we detect an inflection point?

Week of 11 December 2023: Do we detect an inflection point?

The Cop28 Climate Change Conference currently underway in Dubai seems to have hit a couple of speed bumps on the way to banning fossil fuels.

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Week of 4 December 2023: Power & Energy--Make your own

Week of 4 December 2023: Power & Energy--Make your own

There are a group of Mennonites in southern Ohio I love dearly. I try to go visit them a couple of times a year for a few days. My next visit is planned for the weekend of 16 - 17 Dec 2023. When I get there, my phone goes off and into my bag. There is no electricity. Heat is wood. Farming and local transportation is done with horses. They do use the bus system for long-distance traveling, and they do this quite often. Sounds inconvenient? It is the price of freedom.

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Week of 27 November 2023: Innovation--your turn

Week of 27 November 2023: Innovation--your turn

The question for you, dear reader and marketer, is what are we missing? Our typical product cycle is to try out a feature or a concept and gauge the reaction. Then it lives or dies. But let's turn this around. You may know better than we do what the next innovation in digital marketing to the pulp and paper industry should be. Sometimes one can be so close to something that they miss the obvious. We want to make sure that is not happening to us. Hence we want to hear from you.

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Week of 20 November 2023: Barriers to Innovation--Part 2

Week of 20 November 2023: Barriers to Innovation--Part 2

Often, the barriers to innovation boil down to an unwillingness to take risks. If those risks involve technological changes, that just adds to the resistance. In the last thirty years, communications, for instance, have gone through startling changes, more changes than had been seen by humankind from the first written and spoken words up until then. These changes profoundly affected the pulp and paper industry and have blown by as if we were sitting still.

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Week of 13 November 2023: Barriers to Innovation--Part 1

Week of 13 November 2023: Barriers to Innovation--Part 1

One of the major barriers to process innovation is knowing too much about the subject. Knowledge of a subject sets up unconscious barriers to innovation. Think of learning to drive an automobile. I have taught three teenagers how to drive. In all three cases, their first time behind the wheel experience resulted in eyes darting about rapidly. As they became familiar with driving, the eye darting subsided because they learned what was important and dismissed everything else. Same is true of a process or procedure. If you know it with your eyes closed, so to speak, you are dismissing a great deal of information that might be helpful in innovation. It's the "we've never done it that way syndrome." There are a couple of ways to shortcut this.

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Week of 6 November 2023: Innovation and Strategy Month

Week of 6 November 2023: Innovation and Strategy Month

A couple of seemingly disparate items strike me as we start to think about innovation and strategy this month. The first is the press release a couple of months ago announcing the coming departure of the chairman of a major pulp and paper company. Reading between the lines, one could infer that this chairman and the board are out of ideas as to how to take the company forward. The other is the current popular human resource acronym, DEI, which stands for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. As with most such acronyms, this one is too simplistic and is itself too inclusive, likely being applied where it is not appropriate.

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Week of 30 October 2023: Quality is people and culture

Week of 30 October 2023: Quality is people and culture

At their best, all the sensors, software and specifications you have pertaining to quality are merely aids to your personnel as they produced quality services and goods at your company. This is true for even the most sophisticated (buzz word alert!) AI systems. If your people and culture are not tuned in and dedicated to producing quality, it will not happen. In the pulp and paper industry, we have not done such a good job of starting where quality starts--with our people and our culture.

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Week of 23 October 2023: Pre-Emptive Quality

Week of 23 October 2023: Pre-Emptive Quality

Everything that comes onto your mill site must meet established standards before it gets to your mill site. Multiple suppliers must be in place to provide quick backup if a primary supplier fails. I would dare say the plan for the quality of the product you will make in a month or two must be already established now. When it comes to the quality actions needed from the human component of your operation, that must be planned six months to a year before you need it.

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Week of 16 October 2023: Quality is Attitude, Part 2

Week of 16 October 2023: Quality is Attitude, Part 2

Little did I know when I wrote the column last week, "Quality is Attitude" that there would be a sequel, but here it is. We usually think of quality, and concomitant attitudes about quality, as we think of suppliers serving customers. So, what would you say about customers providing outstanding, unheard-of quality to their suppliers? Would you infer from this that such a company, if it existed, would have quality service so ingrained that their customers could rest assured the quality they receive in service and products is top notch? I have found such a company and unabashedly want to tell you about them and their president.

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Week of 9 October 2023: Quality is Attitude

Week of 9 October 2023: Quality is Attitude

As we continue to think about quality in a different way this month, I have to say quality is attitude. I have seldom seen an angry person produce quality services or products. Likewise, I have never seen a glib, happy-go-lucky person produce quality either. Let's face it, quality is serious business. It can be a complicated business, too.

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Week of 2 October 2023: Quality--easier to receive than give?

Week of 2 October 2023: Quality--easier to receive than give?

Many of us recognize quality and we love to acquire it. Few of us love to create it. We'll explore the love of quality and how to create it this month.

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Week of 25 September 2023: What to do if you are quietly cut

Week of 25 September 2023: What to do if you are quietly cut

It has been widely reported recently that companies are "quietly cutting" employees. If you are not familiar with this term, it means your job has been eliminated, but you haven't. You'll be put on the sidelines until a place can be found for you. Likely your department has been eliminated, but to avoid paying you a severance package, you are "being placed in inventory" until a position can be found that matches your perceived skill set.

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Week of 18 September 2023: Where does DEI fit into your hiring and promotion practices?

Week of 18 September 2023: Where does DEI fit into your hiring and promotion practices?

Extremely touchy subject, but I have never let that stop me before. DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is at least on the lips of every human resource professional today. What should be your posture and response?

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Week of 11 September 2023: Smurfit and CCA Redux?

Week of 11 September 2023: Smurfit and CCA Redux?

It is being reported that Smurfit, of Dublin, Ireland, and WestRock, of Atlanta, Georgia, are in merger talks. These are interesting times indeed. I recall in 1986 when Smurfit bought Container Corporation of America (CCA) with the help of Morgan Stanley. In fact, the combined company name included Morgan Stanley. Long term, that merger did not end well.

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Week of 4 September 2023: Present at Work

Week of 4 September 2023: Present at Work

There is a new norm for work attendance. It was caused by the Covid lockdown, and if you are not aware of it, you must have been under a rock for the last three years. In the hourly ranks in our mills, it seems to be working itself out. Mills are adopting the twelve-hour day and hourly workers in many cases are working fourteen twelve-hour days out of each twenty-eight days, on various schedules of day and night shift. Maybe this will work and be widely adopted. That is a few hours more than a straight forty hour per week job, but who works forty hours per week. Salaried staff schedules have been more of a problem.

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Week of 28 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 4

Week of 28 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 4

Fos the Rat says, "Every August, I look forward to taking over Mr. Jim's column and providing the insights of the Pulp Rats. This year we've done things a little differently, but here we are, already, at the end of the month. I hope you have enjoyed these interviews as much as I have enjoyed doing them. Let's see what Mr. Jim has to tell us today."

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Week of 21 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 3

Week of 21 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 3

Fos the Rat says, "We've been talking to Mr. Jim this month and he has told us some amazing stories. Let's see what he has for us this week."

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Week of 14 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 2

Week of 14 August 2023: Pulp Rats, Week 2

As we discussed last week, this year we are using a different format. Fos the Rat is interviewing Mr. Jim in a side room at the Pulp Rat Convention. Last week's story relayed matters that can happen within one's company. This week, we'll move outside the walls and see what can go wrong when an outside company has an evil intent.

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Week of 7 August 2023: It is August, time for Pulp Rats

Week of 7 August 2023: It is August, time for Pulp Rats

Fos, the Rat, says, "I am going to use a slightly different format this year. Yes, the rat convention is going on as usual, but I have reserved a private room off the main convention floor and Mr. Jim has agreed to being interviewed concerning some of the situations he has seen over his fifty plus year career in this industry."

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Week of 31 July 2023: Too much?

Week of 31 July 2023: Too much?

How clean is clean? What are we willing to pay for things to be incrementally cleaner?

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Week of 24 July 2023: A new third party

Week of 24 July 2023: A new third party

Let's not forget what business we are in. Simply, that is to manufacture, convert, and/or print paper. There are many other activities in which mills must engage but these must be our focus--this is how we spin our invoice printer. I have lived through nearly the entire environmental era to date. Perhaps it is time for a new third party to rise up and help us with the entire environmental equation.

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Week of 17 July 2023: Reasonable people all want the same thing

Week of 17 July 2023: Reasonable people all want the same thing

By and large, we all want the same thing for ourselves, our families and our friends. Clean air, clean water, and a pleasant view of nature. In most places governments have disincentivized (read: one can go to jail) managers from disobeying when it come to environmental regulations, so regular and repeated excursions from what is expected are matters of reasonably respecting compliance requirements. So why do your mill's neighbors have an adversarial relationship with your mill? There can be several reasons for this.

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Week of 10 July 2023: Corruption and Hysteria

Week of 10 July 2023: Corruption and Hysteria

Conditions should not be us and them, but that is what they have become. My solution? At this point, you have no choice but to be absolutely transparent to your local neighbors and be cautious of the traveling rabble-rousers. This situation is no fault but our own.

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Week of 3 July 2023: Another year...what has changed?

Week of 3 July 2023: Another year...what has changed?

This is environmental/regulations month here at Nip Impressions. I must ask, what has changed in the past year? It appears the rhetoric has become shriller, the regulations more onerous and the government has become more invasive.

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Week of 26 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 4

Week of 26 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 4

Last week we talked about the missing doctor blades and how the solution cost the mill serious money through their own inability to manage their needs. I have a story from the other side of this issue as well.

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Week of 19 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 3

Week of 19 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 3

If I am being a bit hard on purchasing this month, it is because I often see purchasing as a silo in our mills and corporate structures. Purchasing is often thought of as price, terms and conditions. There is a lot more that purchasing can do for the mill. It is not all about pricing, terms and conditions.

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Week of 12 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 2

Week of 12 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing, Part 2

Today's purchasing professionals are much better than the ones I ran into early in my career, but there is still room for improvement. A great purchasing executive must be a strategic and tactical thinker, also keeping their company's ESG goals in mind.

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Week of 5 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing

Week of 5 June 2023: Let's talk about Purchasing

We can't start talking about purchasing without talking about corruption. This is my 54th June in industry, and I wish I could tell you that corruption in purchasing has diminished over this period, but I can't. One bright spot I know is a mill in Texas where a new purchasing agent eliminated all hats, pens, calendars, meals...any freebies provided by the vendors and suppliers. Sounds harsh? Once the camel gets its nose under the tent, there is no stopping.

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Week of 29 May 2023: 'til we meet again

Week of 29 May 2023: 'til we meet again

No, this is not a retirement announcement. I am merely pointing out that we are done with energy for this month. We'll be back with more energy columns in December. If you haven't figured it out yet, Nip Impressions features energy two months per year--May and December. Energy is that important. As I have said before, it has been important for my entire career and will be far into the future.

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Week of 22 May 2023: Absolute Energy Improvements to Implement now

Week of 22 May 2023: Absolute Energy Improvements to Implement now

I have been beating around this energy trends subject all month. It is time for me to get serious and give you some help. Are there any sure-fire energy solutions you can do now and not be required to back track later? Let us think about it for a minute and see what we can develop and what can be set up for continuous improvement.

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Week of 15 May 2023: Where are we going with electricity?

Week of 15 May 2023: Where are we going with electricity?

At this point in time, we have forgotten that using electricity as a widespread energy form is an almost new experience. My own grandparents, for instance, were born (early 1880's) when electric lights were brand new and only in the homes of the rich in concentrated urban places like New York City. It was years before they experienced these in the US Midwest. While electricity brought many advantages and improvements to life, business and industry, it was not without its negative side effects, too.

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Week of 8 May 2023: Energy Independence

Week of 8 May 2023: Energy Independence

Let's take a walk down nostalgia and fantasy lanes this week. I am so frustrated with energy issues; I see no other choice.

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Week of 1 May 2023: What can we say about energy that we have not said before?

Week of 1 May 2023: What can we say about energy that we have not said before?

It is energy month again, and, quite frankly, I am getting tired of talking about energy matters. As I have stated before, the first energy crisis occurred about four months after I received my undergraduate degree. We have been talking about energy ever since, not only in our mills, but in life in general. At first, the issue was, do we have enough? At the time, known petroleum reserves were about eight years, which would have gotten us to 1981. Obviously that was incorrect. Later in my career, climate change became the issue when the powers that be decided we face global warming instead of global cooling.

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Week of 24 April 2023: Finally, this safety month...your health

Week of 24 April 2023: Finally, this safety month...your health

When I was young, binge drinking seemed to be the personally destructive behavior of choice. In one mill where I worked, the staff was in the habit of having a beer blowout after every shutdown day. I don't know if that is still a widespread activity or not. Of course, drugs, especial fentanyl, are widespread today and kill many people. We have had this tragedy hit close to us. Today, however, I want to talk about overeating and weight. We all, including me, struggle with this.

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Week of 17 April 2023: Implant this in your mind now

Week of 17 April 2023: Implant this in your mind now

What I am about to describe can happen anywhere...work or home. Most of us would say our life is more important than material goods. However, here in our neighborhood, two people have lost their lives in the last six months because, in a rapidly developing situation, they thought saving material goods was paramount. They didn't have time to think it through.

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Week of 10 April 2023: Safety in life outside of work

Week of 10 April 2023: Safety in life outside of work

In recent years, companies have started emphasizing safety off their premises as well as at work, for anything that causes an employee to be missing from work is a cost. It is just a matter of how big that cost is.

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Week of 3 April 2023: Safety in Maintenance

Week of 3 April 2023: Safety in Maintenance

As we start safety month, we could almost repeat the issues discussed last month in maintenance month. We'll spend some time this month talking about attitudes as well. Attitudes have a lot to do with safety.

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Week of 27 March 2023: If it doesn't exist, you don't have to maintain it

Week of 27 March 2023: If it doesn't exist, you don't have to maintain it

We started off this month talking about obsolete equipment and processes left in place. This is not what I am talking about now. Here, I am talking largely about installed spares.

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Week of 20 March 2023: Better Maintenance through better materials

Week of 20 March 2023: Better Maintenance through better materials

There has been a vast improvement in the selection of materials for new capital projects during my 53-year career. There are new materials, upgrades to old materials and a general view of specifying materials more suitable for the application now than in prior decades. If you have read me for any length of time, you know I like galvanized steel for all structural components (indoors and out) and stainless for nearly everything else where appropriate in pulp and paper mills. Granted, there a bleach plants constructed of titanium, but those are more the exception than the rule. I like plastic, too. CPVC pipe, FRP tanks are your friend.

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Week of 13 March 2023: Cleanliness and Oil/Grease

Week of 13 March 2023: Cleanliness and Oil/Grease

Last week, we talked about the first step to better maintenance. That was cleanliness, as in wholesale cleanliness by removing dead and obsolete equipment. To me, the next thing after cleanliness is oil and grease--lubrication.

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Week of 6 March 2023: A Maintenance Travesty

Week of 6 March 2023: A Maintenance Travesty

If you have taken an automobile to a dealer's repair shop lately, you have no doubt noticed how clean and neat the facility is. I have been wheeled into operating rooms in prestigious hospitals with more clutter and cobwebs than one will find in the typical auto dealer repair shop. Automobile dealers work at a high charge out rate, out of a rate book. They have a constant struggle between the profitability demanded by their owners and the resistance of the customers to high prices. The repair shop is a profit center. The repair services provided by the maintenance department in your pulp or paper mill are treated as a cost center, a cost center the mill does not want to own. Big difference from the automobile dealership repair shop. Perhaps this is at least one reason why pulp and paper mill maintenance centers are so unkempt and trashy.

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Week of 27 February 2023: A novel use for transportation intelligence

Week of 27 February 2023: A novel use for transportation intelligence

Your mill has all sorts of motive equipment, from skid steer loaders to clamp trucks to over-the-road transportation providers. The outside suppliers who maintain this equipment have a tremendous amount of valuable information that can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars, sometimes on a monthly basis. The key is how you approach accessing this information.

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Week of 20 February 2023: Transportation--Electric v. Petroleum Fuels

Week of 20 February 2023: Transportation--Electric v. Petroleum Fuels

At this point the decision to go electric in your motive equipment or trucks is an easy one. If the vehicles are used for short range and there is charging time, go electric if it makes economic sense. For everything else, don't even bother doing the calculation.

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Week of 13 February 2023: Corporate Travel

Week of 13 February 2023: Corporate Travel

A lot of money leaks out of a company through the travel budget. It does not need to be this way.

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Week of 6 February 2023: A bit about railroads

Week of 6 February 2023: A bit about railroads

It is transportation month and I will be the first to admit that this column will likely not make you any money. But occasionally, we should have a little education and fun without worrying about ROI, eh? Over the years, when I have brought up these matters with individuals, I get, "Well I didn't know that." So perhaps I can give you a little education, too.

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Week of 30 January 2023: Now you must run it

Week of 30 January 2023: Now you must run it

If you are building statues or monuments, when the construction is done, you are done. We don't build statues and monuments in the pulp and paper industry.

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Week of 23 January 2023: Capital Projects: Improper Cash Flow Planning

Week of 23 January 2023: Capital Projects: Improper Cash Flow Planning

If you have spent your career in the shelter of large, rated companies, you likely have not experienced this problem. Some explanation. By "rated" I mean a company that carries a rating by a Dun & Bradstreet, Fitch, or some other recognized rating agency. Most such companies fund their capital projects through their corporate treasury.

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Week of 16 January 2023: Second Number Uttered

Week of 16 January 2023: Second Number Uttered

Very long time reader Dene Taylor wrote me a note after last week's column (Week of 9 January 2023 "First Number Uttered") suggesting the second number uttered is the time to complete a project. Mike Higgins offered a similar comment. This is so true and in line with the items I covered the first week of this series, the week of 2 January 2023. I have seen so many schedules blown over the years that they are uncountable. The worst are the rebuild schedules, for they are the ones that take an operating machine out of production for a period of time, endangering the customer base. There is a lot of pressure to make these as short as possible.

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Week of 9 January 2023: First Number Uttered

Week of 9 January 2023: First Number Uttered

Capital project budgets suffer from "first number uttered" syndrome. Whatever project cost number gets to the executive suite first is the one that every decision hangs on. That number may arrive from a back of the envelope exercise, an article read in a trade publication, or some other unresearched source. The corollary to "first number uttered" is, "surely we can beat competitor x's reported costs." More projects have been doomed by these kinds of thinking than any other I have ever known, and remember, we're talking about my fifty-three-year career here.

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Week of 2 January 2023: Capital Projects Month

Week of 2 January 2023: Capital Projects Month

What continues to amaze me are the stories of projects gone bad. Large, small, makes no difference, there are still for me, after nearly 53 years of watching projects from all sides, reports of disastrous projects. In this time period, experienced and learned people have brought forth courses, books and institutes to tackle the subject of project management, yet my side gig of being an expert witness in construction lawsuits continues to thrive. These are the top five reasons I think capital construction projects fail...

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Week of 26 December 2022: One final thought on energy savings

Week of 26 December 2022: One final thought on energy savings

The 10,000-pound elephant in the room is that old digester that you abandoned in place. Or maybe it is an old paper machine, or an old bleach plant. Managers have gotten really cute about abandoning old equipment in place rather than take a write-down. The error in this is that one has no idea what kind of energy consumption or fluids consumption (water, lubricants and so forth) are taking place in that abandoned unit operations.

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Week of 19 December 2022: There are always many new ways to save energy

Week of 19 December 2022: There are always many new ways to save energy

The first energy crisis started within four months of my graduating from college. You might say I, and anyone younger than me, has spent their entire career energy centric. Yes, at times energy became relatively less expensive than at others, but it was always there.

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Week of 12 December 2022: More Energy Follies

Week of 12 December 2022: More Energy Follies

I think my long-term proclamation that all energy is political (which is proven true every day in the popular press), licenses me to wander a bit from our normal management and technical topics here as we attempt to figure out how to get the pulp and paper industry through this coming Northern Hemisphere winter.

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Week of 5 December 2022: Where's the energy coming from?

Week of 5 December 2022: Where's the energy coming from?

In May of each year, we talk about Energy Trends, and we wrap up in December with Power & Energy. Energy is an important topic in the industrial and post-industrial world. As I have said many times, modern energy is all politics. It doesn't help that most politicians and journalists did not go to STEM schools for their secondary education.

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Week of 28 November 2022: When it is time to break the rules and innovate anyway

Week of 28 November 2022: When it is time to break the rules and innovate anyway

So, what have we learned from this series of columns?

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Week of 21 November 2022: Sometimes you want execution, not innovation

Week of 21 November 2022: Sometimes you want execution, not innovation

Discerning when to be innovative or not is just as important as the art of innovation itself.

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Week of 14 November 2022: Another innovation example

Week of 14 November 2022: Another innovation example

Be creative, but make sure you are creative from many points of view. Additionally, don't get hung up on your idea, there may be a better one.

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Week of 7 November 2022: How to get started in innovation

Week of 7 November 2022: How to get started in innovation

I think anyone can train their brain to be creative. It is a matter of recognizing and knocking down the subconscious mental barriers in your thinking. I believe most are not creative because they won't let themselves explore the possibilities. I know this happens to me even though I am aware of this barrier.

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Week of 31 October 2022: Quality in your products

Week of 31 October 2022: Quality in your products

I suspect when I started this series four weeks ago and you saw the word quality, you immediately thought about the products or services your company provides. That is normal. However, we first must get our house in order, starting with ourselves, before we talk about the products or services our company provides.

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Todd Brooks of NORPAC in Longview, Washington, wins Capital Arguments Project Manager of the Year Award

Todd Brooks of NORPAC in Longview, Washington, wins Capital Arguments Project Manager of the Year Award

We had an opportunity to gather on the evening of 6 October 2022 and award the Capital Arguments Project Manager of the Year Award to Todd Brooks of NORPAC in Longview, Washington. Todd came in on budget on a tough project that was done entirely during the Covid Era. Todd learned the meaning of Force Majeure and still pulled it in on budget. Great job, Todd!

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International SAP Conference  For Forest Products, Paper and Packaging in Madrid

International SAP Conference For Forest Products, Paper and Packaging in Madrid

I am just from the SAP Conference in Madrid and I have to tell you my head is still spinning. One cannot understand the rapid advancement being made in business and process software unless one listens to the users.

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Week of 24 October 2022: Quality in your customer relations

Week of 24 October 2022: Quality in your customer relations

As we talked about attitude last week, you should have picked up some ideas for making sure your customer relations exude quality, but there are a few more items I would like to emphasize.

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Week of 17 October 2022: Quality in your attitude

Week of 17 October 2022: Quality in your attitude

Generally, I think that a cheerful countenance and an empathetic attitude convey a person of quality, and like I have said in other parts of this series, an aura of quality is contagious throughout your entire sphere of influence.

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Week of 10 October 2022: Quality with your phone

Week of 10 October 2022: Quality with your phone

The modern phone is a miracle device. The downside is that it may expose us in multifaceted ways that are not flattering.

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Week of 3 October 2022: Quality in your workspace

Week of 3 October 2022: Quality in your workspace

Quality starts at home, and that home is often your home, your car, and your workspace. Organization exudes quality. Ever walked into an automobile dealership? Was it disheveled or spotless? How would you react if you walked into an automobile dealership that was untidy? If we are going to talk about quality, we must start with ourselves in the places we live and work.

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Week of 26 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 4

Week of 26 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 4

Hidden Costs

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Week of 19 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 3

Week of 19 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 3

Nothing is free

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Week of 12 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 2

Week of 12 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 2

Spinning the Invoice Printer

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Week of 5 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 1

Week of 5 September 2022: The Eclectic Management Series, part 1

So, you want to be a consultant

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Week of 29 August 2022: And everything else

Week of 29 August 2022: And everything else

Well, after a few days, the Great Mother came back. She did not mention gorging herself and neither did anyone else. Great Mother, "We have gotten very far behind, and our time is almost up. Til, can you come forward and read the remaining cases? If we have time, we will take them up at next year's conference." Til came forward.

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Week of 22 August 2022: Threats

Week of 22 August 2022: Threats

The Rats took a break for a couple of days. We found a pond for swimming and had a good time. On the way back to the meeting area, we went past a place where the Big Things eat food that they heat up very quickly. Out behind, there were bins full of discarded food, so we had quite a feast. The Great Mother got sick from gorging herself and was very embarrassed. The Great Mother always takes her role very seriously and is very conscious of her decorum. Gorging herself was out of character. She must have felt quite ill, for when we reconvened the Junior Mother was presiding. "Attention, please!" she called us to order. "The Great Mother is a bit under the weather and has asked me to preside over this session. Today, we are going to quickly look at cases where Big Things threatened the companies for which they work. Clerk, please read the cases."

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Week of 15 August 2022: The Big Things are up to their old tricks

Week of 15 August 2022: The Big Things are up to their old tricks

After a brief recess, the Great Mother called us together again. "What is on the docket for today?"

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Week of 8 August 2022: The Rats find a new problem

Week of 8 August 2022: The Rats find a new problem

After three lights, the Great Mother called us together again. "We have heard a particularly disturbing story," she began. "It seems as though the Big Things want to be known for protecting this whole place where we live, but some of them take what they call shortcuts at times. The RBI, or Rat Bureau of Investigation, has been looking into this. I'll let them explain." Phineas Kirby came to the front of the room...

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Week of 1 August 2022: Fos takes control of the computer

Week of 1 August 2022: Fos takes control of the computer

By Jim Thompson interpreting for Fos the Rat ... Yes, it is August again and its is corruption month at Paperitalo Publications. We rats have observed in the past year that the human engagement in corruption is not limited to pulp and paper mills. This last statement may sound naïve, but one must understand our methods of communications are rather limited (basically just walking around and talking to each other) so we perhaps don't get all the information Big Things do.

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Week of 25 July 2022: HR and Regulations

Week of 25 July 2022: HR and Regulations

As we wrap up Environmental and Regulations Month here at Paperitalo, we would be remiss if we did not mention the minefield that regulations relating to Human Resources have become.

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Week of 18 July 2022: Don't make this regulatory mistake

Week of 18 July 2022: Don't make this regulatory mistake

Don't think you can turn regulations into a marketing advantage. Thinking that a customer base must buy a certain good or service and hence this will make an automatic market for you is a potential mistake.

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Week of 11 July 2022: When Regulations get Political

Week of 11 July 2022: When Regulations get Political

The general intent of regulations is to keep order in society and keep the population safe. A dictionary definition of regulations is "a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority." My cynical version is this: "those who have power by fiat telling those who own assets what to do." Over the decades, we have seen many actions that follow my definition here in the pulp and paper industry.

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Week of 4 July 2022: Asphyxiation by Regulation

Week of 4 July 2022: Asphyxiation by Regulation

A little regulation is probably good, but a lot of regulation chokes business to death.

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Week of 27 June 2022: We interrupt the Purchasing Series to talk about Energy Again

Week of 27 June 2022: We interrupt the Purchasing Series to talk about Energy Again

Sorry about that, but the energy news is coming thick and fast for all of us these days. I am sure you remember old Jim telling you to carefully preserve your boilers, regardless of what form of energy they consume (I have also said these are the only types of idled assets to save). I hope you have heeded my advice. It appears the rapid transition to "Green Energy" sources appears to have some problems.

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Week of 20 June 2022: Purchasing and Gifts

Week of 20 June 2022: Purchasing and Gifts

A tough subject and one all of us, not matter what side of the negotiating table we sit, should treat with respect, not forgetting our fiduciary duty.

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Week of 13 June 2022: Procurement Today

Week of 13 June 2022: Procurement Today

Today, we need to know the delivery status of items way before their expected delivery date. We even need to know what ship they are on and where that ship is at any given moment. As shortages continue, this becomes even more important.

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Week of 6 June 2022: Procurement Opportunities

Week of 6 June 2022: Procurement Opportunities

The purchasing department is an area of great opportunities. It is also a place where all the profits of the mill can be dribbled away, and a potential source of grossly unimaginable corruption. The purchasing department must be carefully managed.

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