Data Drives Decisions in 21st-Century Manufacturing

In 21st-century manufacturing, data is king. Data analysis is often a key factor in helping business leaders make informed decisions that drive business strategy, performance and innovation. Today, Domtar uses a plant analysis and visualization tool called PARCview to monitor up-to-the-minute manufacturing data across our network of pulp and paper mills.

“A lot of companies in the pulp-and-paper industry use PARCview to monitor their machines,” says Jason Miller, Domtar continuous improvement specialist. “But we’ve taken it a step further. We are one of a few that actually use it for every mill in our entire network, which affords us the convenience of being able to understand what’s happening at any mill, on any machine, at any time.”

Imagine you’re a process engineer in our mill in Nekoosa, Wisconsin. You want to see a real-time comparison of the machine’s output at your mill versus a machine run by your colleagues at the mill in Windsor, Quebec, or at any of our 11 other pulp and paper mills. We have one common system that makes it possible, in real time.

Since 2016, we have used PARCview as our mill system’s one-stop data visualization tool. It combines data from multiple sites and multiple data sources into a single view. Our operators, or anyone else in our network, can see key pulp-and-paper manufacturing performance indicators as they happen, around the clock. This allows for precise statistical quality control that helps us trend performance over time and make real-time adjustments to ensure each process across the network is running optimally. The next step, Miller says, is to automatically aggregate the data together into a single data sorting software.

While performance monitoring and data trending is crucial to our manufacturing efficiency, Miller says the best part about this 21st-century manufacturing tool is that it’s the perfect platform for sharing best practices between our colleagues at different locations.

“Because mill employees can see what other mills are doing at any given time, it makes for a great idea exchange,” says Miller.

For example, 47 employees from across our 13 pulp and paper mills recently visited our Fort Mill, South Carolina, headquarters for a three-day PARCview training course. Attendees said the highlight of the training was the opportunity to network with each other.

“Many people said the best part of the training was being able to sit in the same room with the mill data pulled up to talk to and learn from each other,” says Miller.

So, if an employee wants to know the flow rates at the Ashdown Mill right now, or the operating temperatures and pressures at the Dryden Mill over the last month, PARCview makes it possible to do that, and more. Thanks to some 21st-century manufacturing technology, what we learn from the data helps drive manufacturing performance across our pulp-and-paper network.

Take a look at other ways we use data-driven continuous improvement to excel at 21st-century manufacturing:

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