The Light Green Machine Institute

December 2019: Other ways to shed weight

By Jim Thompson
This month we are taking a break from the mill optimization problem we have been working on for the last few months.  Need some time to think about the math some more and make sure, in the end, we provide an elegant solution.

So, let's spend some time this month talking about other ways to shed weight.  Over the years we have talked about the weight of nearly every portion of the paper machine process. We have further recognized that some weight (engineered and manufactured equipment for instance) is more costly than other items, such as building frames and foundations (although engineered, they tend to be made from more widely available standardized components).

Let's spend a few minutes this month considering likely the most expensive weight in our mills and coming ways to reduce this weight.  I am talking about storerooms.  These are filled with expensive items, sitting on the shelf, awaiting the day they are needed. The logic in this expensive investment is that this "insurance policy" is a better alternative than the downtime that would be incurred should we have to wait to receive these parts.  Mill downtime is so expensive that we don't want to wait even a day to obtain a part necessary to operate the mill. So we have these large investments, idly waiting the day they may be needed.  Of course, with large custom items, such as press rolls and so forth, there seems to be no choice to but to buy these in advance and carefully store them.

Today, however, there are software systems and sensors that are making inroads into reducing the necessity of keeping large storerooms of fairly easily procured items (motors, ANSI pumps, etc.).  These offerings are claimed to be doing a better job of detecting potential failures far in advance and then, via software routines assuring procurement in time to effect the repairs necessary in a timely fashion.  

What is the value of this?  If you have a sloppy old storeroom, my guess is you will be able to reduce its value by 25 t0 50%.  This is real money.

As always, your comments will be appreciated.

Think light!

Jim Thompson

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