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William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Headbox Hairballs
William K.   3/7/2012 9:49:59 PM
NO RATINGS
Very good engineering, and an interesting approach to implementing the solution. Being able to produce right answers consistently certainly does aid an engineers career, although some acounting types will still be upset that the direct benefits can't be shown as production. 

Providing right answers is one of the things that engineers are supposed to be doing and it is what makes them both valuable and unique assets. It would be good if some management types realized that we are not all interchangeable.

Tim
User Rank
Platinum
Detail
Tim   3/6/2012 9:22:46 PM
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I have never been in a paper mill, but I can only imagine that it is a harsh manufacturing environment.  The combination of wood pulp, water, and pressure is bound to cause large "hairballs" somewhere in the facility.  It was good to see that the investigation was started looking to people for their opinions on what might be causing the issue.  Person to person communication is often a forgotten part of engineering.

cramg
User Rank
Iron
Re: Six Million Dollars, Man!
cramg   3/6/2012 8:15:52 PM
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The losses incurred were real, but it's a complicated situation.  I recall that making paper was (except for some premium grades) a very low margin affair, so the mills were graded primarily on tons out the door - do anything to keep the machines running.  And paper mills are marvelously complex systems, which means an enormous number of possibile root causes to investigate.  Often that meant the overwhelmed operations guys would only have time to do the simplest things.

That opened up the ecosystem for people like me to come in and help out.  I can't help thinking about all the other mills that must have had the same problems that I was solving, but there didn't seem to be an effective way to spread the word.

HBJimmy
User Rank
Iron
Six Million Dollars, Man!
HBJimmy   3/6/2012 1:36:58 PM
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If they had fixed that 'broken window' in the first year, they would have saved about $6M.  A little educated guesswork tells me that was just over 20 years ago, making your sleuthing worth more than Six Mil to them.  Don't play the lottery, folks; hire an engineer!  :-)

Mydesign
User Rank
Platinum
Generic Skills
Mydesign   3/5/2012 11:14:15 PM
NO RATINGS
1 saves
Geoff, it seems that you are good service engineer too. Basically most of the problems are occurs due to small similar negligence's. if we know the exact working principle and functionality of the machine, it's not that much complicated to rectify the problems. Like design, it's also a generic skill.

TJ McDermott
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hair Ball Mystery
TJ McDermott   3/5/2012 8:47:05 PM
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I love a double alliteration in a title.

Alexander Wolfe
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hair Ball Mystery
Alexander Wolfe   3/5/2012 7:15:19 PM
NO RATINGS
On behalf of the site, thanks for the kudos on the headline, Al. This was indeed an unusually well described Sherlock. Hope to see more of these.

Rob Spiegel
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Hair Ball Mystery
Rob Spiegel   3/5/2012 1:05:21 PM
NO RATINGS
Yes, Apresher, that is a strong headline, even if it's seems a tad misleading. And I agree the careful research and analysis is impressive.


apresher
User Rank
Blogger
Hair Ball Mystery
apresher   3/5/2012 8:22:52 AM
NO RATINGS
Thanks, Geoff, for this story on the headbox hairballs.  The headline definitely caught my attention, and might spawn other hairball stories. It's amazing how many long terms engineering problems (this one a pest for 20 years) are ultimately solved by careful research, analysis and followthrough. Thanks again.



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