How to manufacture toilet paper with minimal production downtime

Every plant manager is under pressure to get the greatest value out of their tissue converting equipment investment. The pressure to achieve optimal efficiency can be even more intense after investing in top-of-the-line equipment.

But specific steps can help reduce unplanned downtime and ensure that every piece of equipment is always performing at optimal efficiency. The first step is to ensure full awareness of all potential issues, and that begins with a complete process audit.

Factors to consider in a toilet paper manufacturing process audit

It’s essential for plant managers to have a clear and comprehensive understanding of every factor that increases or reduces efficiency. Equipment evaluation should include an assessment of the condition and functionality of all machines on production lines. Identify machines, tools, steps, or process phases that effectively set the upper limits on outputs or process efficiency.

A physical equipment audit is needed to identify issues including:

  • Worn machine parts
  • Obsolete components
  • Necessary upgrades
  • Options available for replacements, repairs, and updates

Start a punch list of problems found and potential solutions available.

Equipment is essential, but it’s not the only aspect of production to consider. Be sure not to ignore other important factors, including: 

  • Issues with raw materials
  • Gaps in personnel skills that may call for additional training
  • Accessibility of information and documentation of standard operating procedures
  • Access to process data
  • Maintenance plans

Equipment maintenance is often the second greatest tissue converting budget expense, coming in just behind utilities. 

Plan for preventive maintenance … or expect unplanned downtime

Perhaps the most important tool plant managers have to ensure overall equipment efficiency (OEE) and the best possible use of resources is a maintenance plan. 

The math speaks for itself. First, preventive maintenance ensures that equipment stays up and running when it’s scheduled to run, preventing productivity losses. Second, planned maintenance reduces energy costs by 5-20% and maintenance costs by 12-18%.2 

Planned maintenance also works to extend equipment lifespan and improve energy consumption. It keeps repair budgets under control and creates regular intervals for gathering performance data. The data provide insights that improve predictions for production and periods of time for future maintenance intervals.

Automated solutions can also help tissue converters optimize quality and performance. Valmet’s Sam Operational Solution measures, monitors and adjusts production processes in real time, in response to raw material characteristics, equipment performance measures, and final product quality.

What are the alternatives to preventive and predictive maintenance (PPM)? There’s only one: reactive maintenance. In fact, 75-85% of all equipment failures are caused by improper maintenance.2 

Unplanned downtime events affect more than production on inoperable equipment. The downtime costs add up to anywhere from 40¢ to $1.20 lost from every $20 in revenue, plus:

  • Underutilization of related production equipment and operators
  • Increased scrap and rejects as a result of pre-failure quality problems
  • Higher repair costs due to neglect
  • Longer, less predictable downtime to wait on spare parts

Reactive maintenance, and the downtime it causes, are still going to happen — but ongoing preventive and predictive maintenance can help manage and minimize the losses of that downtime. Contact Valmet to learn more.