January 15, 2021
Correcting Scheduling Misses and Errors

Despite all of our modern, fancy scheduling tools, errors occur. I am correcting an error in real time here, hopefully making it an object lesson for you.

One of my responsibilities around our shop here is to write and produce several small newsletters each month. It is a long standing routine, one I have been doing for over a dozen years.

For some reason this month, I produced two of a certain title and none of another title, this one--Capital Arguments. So, one of our senior leaders discovered this miss today and I was asked if I would kindly correct it. I said, "Of course." Now, I can't turn the calendar back, but I can deliver the product needed. Late on a Friday night, meeting my commitment is more important than anything else I can think of to do this evening.

This happens in capital projects, too. When it happens, it is all hands on deck until the error is corrected.

I was once involved as technical advisor on a large, complex paper mill construction project. Early in the project, a bright experienced engineer was put in charge of checkout. One month, he took me to the construction trailer he had set up to organize this work. He had binders of different colors that meant different things for each piece of equipment. I was impressed with the organization and impressed with his competency, dedication and devotion to accomplishing this very critical task.

We were within a few days of startup. Everything was humming along wonderfully. We got stock on the wire and were planning to put it through the press section the next day.

Boom! Well, it wasn't exactly a boom, but we had smoked a critical gearbox. Despite all the careful planning, despite all the checking and rechecking, somehow this gearbox was not properly filled with oil. Actually, it had no oil in it.

This is one of those gearboxes you expect to run for a long time--no spares available. The team found a machine shop within a 100 miles, took them the damaged box, and this very competent machine shop, working straight through, crafted a new shaft and gear set in about 36 hours.

The mill made its target startup date, but there were a lot of people who put their work/life balance on hold for a few days. This is what you do when there is a miss.

So, will I meet the goal of getting an issue of Capital Arguments for January 2021 published? Yes, but not on the correct date, even with extraordinary effort. But when we find an error, we all must fix it within the limits of natural constraints. In this case, I cannot turn the clock back, but I can do my work competently except for that little issue of schedule.

What is your opinion? Drop me a line at jim.thompson@ipulpmedia.com. I would like to hear from you.

Young Engineering Manager of the Year, call for nominations

We are looking for an individual who has done an extraordinary project, one that almost defies belief. Its extraordinary features can be schedule, technology, cost or all three. There is an age limit on the manager eligible for this award: they must be under 35 years old when they completed the project.
We have often gotten nominees that go something like this, "I nominate Joe because he has done a great job of running our engineering department for the last fifteen years." Quite frankly, we are not interested in such nominees.
However, if you know someone who has led a very exceptional project in the recent past (the last two or three years) and meets our age requirement, we want to know about it. We want to honor them and hold them up as an example for Engineering Managers in every pulp and paper mill around the world.
Just send your nomination, with as much details as you can provide, to jim.thompson@ipulpmedia.com. We will seriously consider it.
Current Patent Activity is available here.

Please write when we tickle your brain cells! Email jthompson@taii.com