Nov. 3 marked a new day in Domtar’s history, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Ashdown Mill in Ashdown, Arkansas, celebrating the startup of a newly converted fluff pulp machine.
The conversion of a paper machine at the Ashdown Mill to produce Lighthouse Fluff Pulp is the largest capital project in the company’s history, making Domtar the world’s third-largest fluff pulp producer. The fluff pulp produced at the mill will be used to make baby diapers and incontinence products sold around the world.
The Journey to Fluff Pulp Production
This extensive construction project began in early 2015 with the demolition of one of the mill’s paper machines. The mill then built a fluff pulp machine that could produce rolls and bales, depending on market demand. For nearly two years, hundreds of people — including local employees, contractors and employees from across Domtar — worked at the site.
While the most visible work at Ashdown was the construction of the machine and its many parts, the work happening in the training area was equally important. The operating crews received two months of classroom training and were well-prepared for startup.
The effort — from planning and finance to demolition and construction to engineering and operations to sales and marketing — culminated in August, when the first pulp ran on the machine.
Work continues this fall on the installation of the calendar, reel and winder equipment. The first fluff pulp rolls will come off the machine in November.
The Fiber of Our Future
Ashdown Mill manager Bob Grygotis praised the team.
“I’m very proud of our mill employees for working safely and staying focused throughout the entire project,” he said. “This investment will provide a bright future for the mill at Ashdown and offer a new product line that will service our customers well.”
Domtar Pulp and Paper President Mike Garcia agrees.
“I would like to thank the Ashdown Mill team that put in the many hours to make this project a reality,” he said. “Their slogan was ‘One Team, One Mission, One Mill, The Fiber of Our Future.’ Their commitment and continuous effort helped to not only construct a stellar piece of equipment, but also to set up the Ashdown Mill and its employees for future success in various markets. We’re very appreciative of the work put forth by so many individuals. The team genuinely shared our vision for creating a world-class fluff pulp operation that is truly the future fiber for Ashdown.”
“The Ashdown team was also supported by dozens of colleagues from other mills and facilities,” Garcia continued. “They worked alongside one another in the spirit of teamwork and collaboration that is part of the strength and character shared among our mill system and its employees. Thank you to all of those men and women who put forth their time and attention to this project as well.”
Interested in learning more about this project? Watch this video about the mill’s fluff pulp conversion.