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Case Studies

Paper mill cuts material loss by 300% with maintenance planning

February 13, 2024 | Operational Excellence

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At a Glance

Due to falling prices and competitive pressure, a paper mill decided to engage Renoir on a project to improve its production planning and maintenance. By revising the client’s best practices in preventive maintenance and providing specialized training for material handling to workers, the client achieved a 3:1 return on investment. 

Key Results 

A 1:1 ROI within the project duration

Annualised ROI of 3:1

Material losses reduction 300% above target

Visible changes in behaviour, skills and attitudes


The client is a market leader in South Asia for coated board products and corrugated boxes. Its mill is fully integrated and consists of a straw pulp mill, seven paper & board machines, two sheeting and finishing houses, a corrugating box plant, and a captive cogeneration plant for power and steam.

The Challenge

The local market had changed due to an increase of imported paper and board products, especially from China. These imported products drove prices down and the client was forced to respond. Management decided to improve its operations processes at the mill to differentiate themselves from the competition, rather than engage in discounting. Renoir was selected to conduct an analysis.

The 2-week analysis highlighted the potential to increase the client’s output tonnage by 3% and reduce its material losses by 0.5%. An implementation program of 30 weeks was presented and accepted.

What We Did

The project was divided into two areas (Management Action Teams):

1. Production planning

2. Production and Maintenance

The initiatives were conducted with an extensive task force of 11 young engineers in the client’s organisation with guidance from the Renoir team and involved managers. The major initiatives included:

Production planning

We implemented a frozen plan concept together with sales & marketing to achieve smoother and longer job sequences. Improved visibility of the production status for sales & marketing helped understanding.

Revised best practices

The practice of using speed ranges was changed to a single, optimal, set speed per product. New standard times were set in all repetitive down-time jobs, in collaboration with operators, and implemented by drills. Additionally, a responsibility matrix on key tasks was agreed on.

Preventative maintenance 

A complete program was mapped out through detailed analyses to develop a preventative maintenance strategy which was then implemented. 

Quick maintenance actions 

Joint walkthroughs were conducted on two major lines to take quick actions regarding technical or operational weaknesses.  

More than 90 actions were implemented during the project in order to minimize sheet brakes and shade variations, and brainstorming sessions were conducted to come up with new ideas as well as test them. Many preventative actions and processes were proposed and implemented thereafter. 

Material losses in sheeting halls, box plant, R/M handling and deckle utilisation 

Several specific tasks were conducted to reduce material losses. For example, the changing of stacking and packing of materials, focused reports, usage and set up of machinery, and cleaning and training on new work instructions. 

Management Control System 

Daily and weekly production reviews meetings were implemented, along with technical meetings per line, monthly sales operation planning meetings within box operations and a temporary technical breakdown report. An MCS was implemented to measure performance and provide an overview of tasks for simplified performance management

Specific training  

Over 380 people were trained in material handling, technical ERP notifications and forklift driving. On top of that many workshops, drills, brainstorming sessions and training on standard operating procedures have been conducted.  

The Results 

The project delivered a return on investment during the project phase, despite 2.5 months of an ongoing power crisis within the country. The annualized ongoing gains followed with a return on investment of around 3:1.  

The changes in behaviour are becoming more proactive, momentum is accelerating, collaboration between departments is increasing, and there is a noticeable change in the mindsets and attitudes of working teams. An added plus for the client was the coaching of 11 future leaders. 

“One of the most beneficial lessons learned is the power of working in cross-functional teams.”

– General Manager, Production

Increase returns on investment with effective process planning and training.

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