As part of a five-year plan to implement new control technologies for its paper mills across the US, a large paper products manufacturer engaged with ARC to provide an independent review and assessment of the various automation systems currently in place.
Due to multiple mergers and acquisitions over the years, the company's various mills employed a wide variety of automation systems (and generations of systems), instrumentation, and related applications. Furthermore, each mill had its own automation and maintenance groups, with few corporate standards and minimal centralized guidance. Thus, while the mills continued to operate and produce high-quality products, there was considerable variability in cost, efficiency, and availability from mill to mill.
With an eye toward introducing targeted corporate standards for automation and associated applications and taking advantage of emerging Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technologies to improve asset management and availability, the company needed an independent assessment of its existing automation and related IT assets as part of its five-year plan to implement new control technologies. Company management was particularly interested in learning how its mills were positioned to take advantage of IIoT, Big Data analytics, remote system access, and advanced process control (APC). The company engaged ARC Advisory Group to visit many of its mills over a 12-month period, assess the current technology and support situation, and issue associated reports for management review.
In Phase 1 of the project, senior ARC consultants visited the various mills across the US (as many as four a month) to assess both process control and associated support capabilities at each mill and make recommendations. These assessments involve having managers at each mill complete a detailed questionnaire prior to a site tour, followed by face-to-face interviews with appropriate mill personnel. Following each site visit, the ARC team prepared a detailed report for the mill managers to review. Once ARC incorporated this feedback into the reports, we forwarded the reports to corporate management with appropriate recommendations.
The client has expressed satisfaction with ARC's work. In Phase 2 of the project, ARC helped develop a unified strategy for effectively adopting the new technologies to help improve mill and business performance and position the company for the future. The company continues to engage with ARC through an Advisory Service agreement.