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Expert help refused - to save money?

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Expert help refused - to save money?

January 23, 2011 - 14:00

BRUSSELS, Jan. 24, 2011 (RISI) -Why is valid technical guidance often not accepted by some papermakers? Is it to save money? These questions need answering.

It is an essential requirement of these times that mills must all consistently reduce costs and increase efficiency. Everyone is struggling to find out how and where savings can be made. Ultimately it's about large sums. But even small amounts have a contribution to make, since the pressure on costs is enormous.

Inevitably in the search for savings, everything that is purchased has to come under consideration. Purchasing managers are under pressure to ensure price reductions - under the belief that "The cheapest purchase is the best purchase". The ‘cost' of such cheap purchases is often paid for in the paper manufacturing process.

Obviously there will be discussion as to what savings can be made at home. Personnel? No, we are already at minimum levels. Production processes? Hardly, we have already done everything. Perhaps we should ask the crews again. But their suggestions always cost so much, after all we have only just ...

This could be the scenario - certainly much simplified. Therefore, a more concrete approach is now needed.

Does the motto ‘cheapest purchase' really have unrestricted validity?

No, this principle in the present climate is not quite correctly formulated: "The ‘best value' purchase is the best purchase" would be more precise. The difference is small but important - and of towering significance. Not to be aware of it could in the end be dearer rather than cheaper. As an entrepreneur recently said pointedly "I simply don't have the money to buy cheaply."

A further, and in the medium-term, existential determining factor must also not be underestimated. Excessive price pressure ties the hands for a period of those from who, in addition to the supply of technical consumables, e.g., machine clothing, also their innovative further development is expected. What value is a super modern paper machine if the basic consumables without which it cannot be run, can reliably no longer be further developed to the required high level?

Particularly included at this high level is the development of the clothing performance, which, in addition to purely technical factors, influences the production process by significantly reducing costs and simultaneously increasing profitability.

And last but not least, there exists for all papermakers the inherent risk, initially fairly inescapable, to be temporarily influenced by, and at the mercy of, apparently useful suppliers from the lower price ranges, particularly those who invest more in taking market share than in serious technical development. "At the mercy" particularly if the market dominance thereby achieved leads to a high price dictate, which then cannot be avoided owing to the lack of qualitatively reliable and innovative alternatives. The necessary innovation forces that are fed by a normal healthy level of competition would in such cases no longer exist.

"Black propaganda or horror scenario?" No. There are already sufficient examples of such developments in the world economy - and we all know them.

At this point an old commercial saying is relevant: "Competition stimulates business". The word "stimulates" can easily be replaced by the phrase "is kept going by price-value diversity". There is clothing and service available with a very high ‘Return on Investment'.

Today, the critical customer can justifiably demand "the goose that lays the golden eggs" for his machine clothing. In addition to the technological requirements, Heimbach understands the expectations of financial advantages as a creative imperative that can be provably achieved.

This applies to the service performance of the Heimbach TASK Division, which with its mobile diagnosis units and its extensive know-how is not only solving acute problems, but is providing substantial improvements in efficiency.

The prerequisites for these successes, in addition to highly sophisticated and constantly updated measuring and analysis equipment and detailed recording of information, is the training received by the members of the TASK team who are able to apply years of experience to the data obtained to achieve process optimization.

However, in the meantime it has become unavoidable that such service work in future will require a cost-related equivalent. The current historically low clothing prices make the inclusion of the cost for such quality service impossible.

In relation to the total costs of paper production, the clothing costs at 1.5-2.5% are relatively insignificant. Nevertheless, it is inevitable that machine operators even here have to submit to price pressure. At the same time it would be encouraging in the current cost-dominated times, if the significant valuable possibilities would be recognized and exhausted by all to maximize their economic efficiency.

At this point the previously quoted difference between ‘cheap' and ‘value for money' is worth noting:

Here some examples of real recorded customer gains and much more.

For the following compared case studies only the financial results are recorded. The complete case studies can be found

Forming section:Comparison between roll side polyester/polyamide CD filaments (alternating weft) of previously used forming fabrics and exclusively Duralon® CD filaments on roll side from Heimbach PRIMOBOND fabrics: Twin-wire former, fluting and testliner 90-180 g/m2, 600-1100 m/min, bottom fabric position, measurement over two-year period. Drive costs: Euro 135,000/yr savings, fabric usage: Euro 77,000/yr savings.

Forming section:Same comparison, different machine: Hybrid former, copier grades 68-100 g/m2, 1,000 m/min, bottom fabric position. Drive costs: Euro 118,000/yr savings.

Forming section:Same comparison, different machine: Twin-wire former, packaging board 135 g/m2, 868 m/min, top and bottom position. Results only from bottom fabric position. Drive costs: Euro 111,000/yr savings. Production: Euro 1,709,400/yr increased production.

Press section:Comparison between previously run felts with lives to an absolute limit of eight weeks and Heimbach ATROMAXX multi-axial felts with lives significantly under maximum, i.e., six weeks. Testliner, 8 m width, 1,250 m/min: financial advantages from reduced breaks, faster start, lower Uhle-box vacuum and higher production: in total Euro 900,000/yr.

Press section:Comparison between Uhle-box dewatering with a conventionally woven felt and nip-dewatering with Heimbach ATROCROSS non-woven substrate felt: 80 g/m2woodfree, 10 m width, 1,400 m/min: Moisture profile allowed 1% higher dry content at reel: Euro 2,714,250/yr savings.

Press section:Same comparison, same machine: Break rate: Euro 1,522,400/yr increased production.

Press section:Same comparison, same machine: Steam consumption in dryers: Euro 1,023,750/yr savings.


Such examples show clearly to what extent the clothing can influence the function and performance and thus the economic efficiency of the paper machine. Therefore the question is not the lowest purchase price for the clothing, but the profitability of its operation: The clothing which achieves in total the highest additional operational value, is the most economical and therefore provides the best value for money.

Michael Kelleris corporate account manager, Heimbach GmbH &