The unexpected events of the last few years, notably the pandemic, have had a profound impact on business practices, accelerating the transition to remote and home working. While industry has adjusted to this new normal, it has highlighted systemic vulnerabilities in global supply chains and underlined the need for industry leaders to reassess how they engage with the digital transition.
Add to that global political instability, and the impact of the war in Ukraine, and you have a perfect storm of challenges facing manufacturers across multiple sectors. This is compounded by the perennial need to optimize production, maintain quality, reduce costly downtime, while at the same time limiting waste, energy usage and environmental emissions.
Adversity does, however, bring with it opportunities to disrupt the existing order by eschewing entrenched, inefficient working processes and taking a simpler, smarter approach to digitalization; an example being the trend for remote project commissioning and servicing during the pandemic.
Adversity also demands that the foundations of any operation are as robust and resilient as possible.
This is particularly true for the pulp and paper industry. The pandemic was a challenging time for operators who had to keep mills running in difficult conditions and were focused on surviving rather than thriving. It’s not surprising that, during a time when people were running on empty and under intense pressure, certain disciplines became a lesser priority.
Now is the time to re-instill discipline and bring back some of the good habits that may have been lost during these difficult years. We need to collectively remind ourselves of the importance of the basic, daily hygiene that is so critical to mills: regular service, maintenance, continual optimization, troubleshooting, long-term planning and more.
Let’s take the discipline of regular, physical inspection and maintenance as an example; pulp and paper operators cannot afford, nor no longer have an excuse, to let service levels drop.