Our team has been focusing on how they can best support their tissue clients’ ultimate goal – to provide high quality products efficiently to the retail consumer.
Changing consumer and retail trends, environmental demands, production safety, and supply chain evolution all impact this ultimate goal and are continuously topics of discussion among both tissue manufacturers and their suppliers.
While the successful tissue manufacturing companies of the past decade share many characteristics, the team found that virtually all have exercised an intentional focus on the following four initiatives:
Distribution network optimization
Minimization of downtime
In this blog, we’ll explore the first two major initiatives.
Tissue manufacturing facilities can be significant consumers of natural resources. Water, wastewater treatment, fiber, and steam (for the tissue making process); and natural gas and electricity (for tissue making, converting, and packaging) are all utilized on a large scale. As an industry, there is broad consensus that these resources and utilities must be used with the utmost efficiency.
While challenging to achieve, reducing resource consumption in manufacturing facilities is both morally and financially rewarding. Options for plant utility reductions can be diverse, but almost all are founded in “common sense” concepts that can be implemented with relative ease when partnering with a single source provider. Examples include:
Combined Heat & Power (CHP) solutions utilize gas turbine or reciprocating engines to generate electricity by burning natural gas. The systems, which are often retrofitted into existing facilities, capture heat from the combustion system’s exhaust stream and convert it into steam or hot water. CHP systems are ideally suited for tissue making because natural gas is readily available in the plants, the electricity created by the generator can be consumed in the tissue making and/or converting processes and the steam can be used to feed the dryer or create hot water. Payback on the capital investment can be quick, and the financial and environmental benefits extend for decades.
Plant energy studies require minimal investment risk but can pay large dividends. Generally, a small team of evaluators audit a facility for two to five days to evaluate how a plant consumes energy and utilities. Once this information is collected, the team pinpoints inefficiencies and provides initial engineering for the best solutions. With these findings, a payback analysis that illustrates the plant’s return on the potential investment is performed, and informed decisions can be made regarding which solutions to implement.
LEED certification of new facilities and expansions is an internationally accepted roadmap to ensure that your operation is energy efficient, comfortable for your employees, built with sustainable materials, and that the facility receives the recognition that it deserves through the LEED certification system. The US Green Building Council (USGBC) continues to invest in the evolution of the program and officially launched its newest update, LEEDv4, at the 2013 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Philadelphia, PA.
Distribution Network Changes
As populations shift, consumers’ retail habits evolve, pulping expands out of North American, and fuel prices increase, tissue manufacturing and distribution locations are changing. Consequently, new facility site selection is becoming a major focus for tissue industry leaders. With a shrinking inventory of large, greenfield industrial sites, identifying suitable properties with adequate electricity, water, natural gas, and wastewater services is becoming a specialty. Traditional realty resources generally do not have knowledge of tissue manufacturing utility demands and the options they provide are often limited to suboptimal properties in business parks and land marketed by Economic Development councils.
Manufacturers can gain a competitive advantage by utilizing Engineer, Procure, Construct (EPC) firms who also specialize in site selection and evaluation. This approach allows for an integrated approach that includes a (non-commission based) broader selection of sites, an evaluation tailored to a tissue manufacturing or converting plant’s needs, prioritization of other operational considerations (proximity to highways, labor force characteristics, etc.), negotiation of local and state incentives, and experience working confidentially.
Ready for the next two initiatives? Read Part 2 of the Tissue Manufacturers 4 Key Initiatives blog series now. If you want to learn more about how to implement these initiatives, contact Matt Gulden by email, email@example.com.