This year is shaping up to be a great year for slush pulp and paper production at our seven communication paper mills. Both slush pulp and paper are running at record-level production thanks to our colleagues across our Pulp and Paper business and our continuous improvement efforts. Given the current market demand for paper, our strong performance couldn’t have come at a better time.
Paper productivity in the third quarter at our seven communication paper mills (Hawesville, Johnsonburg, Kingsport, Marlboro, Nekoosa, Rothschild and Windsor) exceeded budget by 80 short tons per day. At the same time, daily production of slush pulp — wood fiber that’s been cooked down and bleached to a consistency perfect for making paper or market pulp –— surpassed the third quarter budget by nearly 200 air-dried metric tons per day. That’s a new company record for quarterly slush pulp production, which helped deliver a successful third quarter for the business.
“2018 has been a great year for us so far,” says Bill Edwards, vice president of manufacturing for communication papers. “Our increased production is really helping support the increased customer demand we’re seeing for uncoated freesheet paper.”
After a challenging first quarter, we had five of the six best months of slush pulp production in our company’s history. That prompted Domtar President & CEO John Williams to comment during a recent earnings call that our strong corporate performance was driven by solid business fundamentals within our Pulp and Paper operations.
Those solid business fundamentals are evident in the way each mill has worked with our continuous improvement and reliability teams to develop and share operational best practices across our mill network. Our systemwide use of PARCview and other data-tracking software allows us to share ideas and collaborate on new ways to optimize slush pulp and paper production while using fewer bleaching chemicals. This benefits not only the environment but also our bottom line through greater productivity at lower costs.
“We’re committed to maintaining our position as North America’s leading uncoated freesheet producer,” Edwards says. “I’m proud that our operations have been keenly focused on doing everything we can to ensure we’re able to meet our customers’ needs and take advantage of the favorable market conditions.”
Additionally, Edwards points to our communication paper mills’ focus on preventative maintenance practices that keep them running as efficiently as possible around the clock while minimizing downtime for planned maintenance outages.