Engage Your Suppliers in Every Step of the Process to Improve the Outputs

The Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) was born more than 100 years back, having headquarter at Atlanta , Georgia USA. TAPPI is a volunteer-led association that is built around a community comprised of thousands of members engineers, managers, scientists, academic, suppliers and others from around the world. In an exclusive interview given to The Pulp and Paper Times, Mr. Larry N. Montague, President and CEO TAPPI shares his views over research and developments, industrial affairs being conducted around the global paper mills. “Ask the new hires who are just out of the universities, as they are have a fresh set of eyes and are not hampered with the idea of “we have always done it this way.”

Q.TAPPI has organized large number of seminars and conferences based on pulp and paper technology. How much TAPPI is satisfied with the transformation of knowledge into commercial operations?


TAPPI is extremely satisfied with the transformation of knowledge to commercial operations. TAPPI was born out of sharing knowledge and networking 103 years ago. The genesis of TAPPI was to create standards for manufacturing pulp, paper and packaging. This desire was to standardize the processes to ensure the customer’s orders would be the same no matter which mill in the U.S. and now the entire world, the product was sourced. TAPPI was started in 1915 and will celebrate its 103rd birthday on September 23,2018.

Q.TAPPI has led the world in setting up the TAPP! Standards for operations and these standards have been widely accepted across the world in academic and industry both. How any Professional/ individual/ Institutional Body can develop the standard? What is process of setting up a Standard?

This is a very good question. TAPPI Standards are developed through a consensus of a technical working group acting in accordance with the procedures described in our guidelines. We publish 4 types of TAPPI Standards; Test Methods, Specifications, Guidelines and Glossaries. TAPPI Test Methods are testing procedures. We use 6 different categories for our Test Methods: Official Method, Provisional Method, Standards Practice, Classical Method, Withdrawn Method, and Useful Method (UM). If you are interested in submitting or reviewing a Standard, learn more on our website www.tappi.org. (/Get­ Involved /Develop-Standards-Methods/).

Our Standards may also include certain information that is not directly related to our Test Methods, such as technical information and definitions. This information is found in our Specifications, Guidelines and Glossaries. These documents comply with TAPPI Standards regulations in their development and approval. TAPPI has been certified by the American National Standards Institute as an American National Standards development Organization. As a result our standards are considered as American National Standards. The scope of (ISO) International Standards Organization’s Technical Committee 6 (ISO TC 6) is standardization in the field of paper, board and pulps and cellulosic nanomaterials (CNM), including terminology, sampling procedures, test methods, product and quality specifications, and the establishment and maintenance of appropriate calibration systems. ISO TC 6 and its subcommittee, SC2, along with the various working groups are responsible for over 180 international related standards.

Q.Research and developments play an important role in improving Productivity and Profitability of a company. How do the Paper Mills value to the R&D in different Countries such as India? What are your suggestions to Paper Mills to improve the results?

R&D is key to our entire industry’s success. TAPPI serves as a platform to share approved updates, in R&D, that our members companies will allow us to share. We value all countries R&D, this is why TAPPl’s members went from 66 countries in 2017 to 86 countries in 2018. We have 29 individual members located in India at the time of this writing. TAPPI gives out individual awards, each year for excellence in our industry. My suggestions are; engage your suppliers in every step of the way. They are the experts on their equipment and /or products that you are using in the mill. Ask for their opinions. In addition, ask the new hires who are just out of the universities, as they are have a fresh set of eyes and are not hampered with the idea of “we have always done it this way.” India has some of the brightest minds in the world in our industry.

Q. What major differences do you see between American Paper Mills and Asian Paper Mills in context of operations?

In my travels, the biggest difference in the majority of the American Mills versus Asian mills, is the age of the machinery and associated equipment. Although we now have some new startups in the past 3-5 years in the U.S., these numbers are dwarfed by the number of new mills and machines in Asia. The U.S. has been busy in converting Paper Machines from one product to Tissue and Packaging grades. In Asia, if one new machine works well, they order more of the same machine, as this keeps parts inventories down. In the U.S. many mills have various brands of paper machines with different attributes.

Q.Digitalization is expanding and making its roots more deep and strong. Is digitalization a curse or boon for paper making industry? If yes, then how a Paper Mill can make digitalization a powerful tool for their sustainability?

My thoughts, are there is room for both. It’s not a matter of one versus another, but how they will complement the other in the centuries to come. A few years ago I was asked to speak at a news conference in Washington DC on The Defense of Print and Paper. It was amazing when you looked at the discussions on how one compliments the other. Clearly you could see why. Globally, the latest and greatest digital inventions help our industry in so many ways. Just imagine the improvement in efficiency we have experienced in places like paper mills around the world where your employees have instant access to your suppliers and/or experts to help solve issues while a paper machine is running. They can gain access to experts from an app on their phones or Google Glasses that puts help right where you need it,in real time. This is the future of making paper. Please never forget these absolute state of the art, cutting edge products were shipped in a folding carton that was loaded into a corrugated box to ship and arrive intact. Now that is a perfect example of how we can complement each other.

Q.Better industrial outputs much depend on the skills of the employees. What are various ways, through which, an industry should think to upgrade the operation knowledge of their employees?

As I mentioned before, training our employees is the best way we can keep them and optimize the output from our facilities. TAPPI realizes that every one cannot attend our conferences and training programs in person.

We do offer internet base training by experts in a specific field, as well as, webinars for those who cannot make a course in person. In the U.S., we depend a great deal on our suppliers to trouble shoot issues in a facility.

Q.What are the major suggestions and complaints TAPPI receives from its members commonly?

In my travels the 3 issues that always tend to come up are: Safety, Training and Filling the gap from the retirement Tsunami
• CEO’s around the globe want to make certain that their employees, contractors and all other visitors who come on their sites are not exposed to any unsafe incidents. They care about all of these people and want them to be able to go back to their families each day safe and sound. TAPPI has responded by developing TAPPI Safe, a site specific safe and general orientation form any Pulp, Paper and converting facilities across the U.S.and now in two other countries.
• TAPPI has responded to the training need by offering online and company classroom training for Pulp, Paper and Converting operations
• TAPPI has expanded our reach in to the universities that have paper and packaging programs. We have approximately 30 Student Chapters whose members are highly sought after as potential employees of the Pulp, Paper & Packaging industries. Each year we hold a Student Summit in January to bring students together with potential employers in our industry.

Q. What annual global growth in paper and its converted products do you see in coming years?

The areas that quickly come to mind are Tissue & Towel, as well as, all packaging and shipping grades. Such as toilet tissue, paper towels, specialty papers, liner board and folding carton grades and setup box grades. Apple, Amazon, McDonalds, Starbucks and many others are looking to replace non-paper products with paper products, such as paper straws and paper beverage stirring utensils. These Papergrades, as well as filter papers, have a very nice future on a global scale. From what I have heard and witnessed most other grades will be flat over the next five years, with the exception of the previous mentioned grades, which show promise of growth on a global scale.

Q.Is paper making a cause of deforestation? If no then why paper mills are failed to convince the society & government that paper making is not hazardous to the forest?

Paper Making is absolutely not a cause for deforestation. The world will not allow this. The Sustainable Forestry Initiative(SFI), The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the American Tree Farm Systems, (ATFS),or the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification, {PEFC), are great examples of the world coming together to clear the air on misinformation. For every tree that is harvested from well managed timberlands or forest, 2-3 trees are replanted.

Our industry has made great strides since 2005 to increase the amount of fiber procured from certified forest lands and through certified fiber sourcing programs in the U.S. from 2005 to 2020 and work to decrease illegal logging.(AF&PA)

Q.Being a leading Paper Mills association what are your plans to make paper mill operation more advance globally?

In1915, mostTAPPI members we relocated in the North Eastern United States. Today, in 2018,we have members in 86 countries. We are truly a Global Association. We are the Technical Association for the Pulp & Paper Industry.

You do not see the word American in our name. TAPP! also has an International Research Management Committee that exists to share the latest technological advances in our global industry, this committee is comprised of Chief Technology Officers, Research Scientists and other professionals from our industry. We host conferences each year that brings people from all areas of our industry together to share knowledge to advance all of our companies. We are under strict Antitrust Policies and we do not share cost, pricing, or restraint of trade in anyway. Knowledge sharing and Networking for the betterment of our industry, is what TAPPI is all about.

Q.How a paper mills association can increase or retain its number of members if the association is facing decreasing numbers?

Many associations face loss of memberships due to retirements, acquisitions and facility closures.

One big difference in TAPPl’s membership base is that we have Professional Memberships as well as Sustaining Memberships. Our memberships are not company memberships. Many of other associations have company based memberships. In contrast, TAPPI has individual based memberships. If we were company based, we would lose a large source of income each time a company is acquired or closes down. If one of our members changes companies the membership remains with the individual. Other membership varieties include, Student Memberships and Young Professional Memberships as well as Retired Memberships.

Q.In today’s era where the stock of natural energies (such as coal &crude) are being depleted significantly. How TAPPI takes this matter to educate its members to adopt renewal energy? How does TAPPI evaluate its efforts in term of conversion?

This is a very good topic. TAPPI works with our members to develop ideas, topics and expert speakers to come together and discuss what works and how to expand their knowledge in these areas.

We are also members of AF &PA (American Forest and Paper Association) who serves as our industry’s lobbying arm in the USA. AF&PA,alongwiththeirMembers,are working on multiple projects of which many are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

These specific goals are Quality Education, Clean Water & Sanitation, Affordable &Clean Energy, Decent Work and Economic Growth, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and Production, Climate Action and Life on Land.
Reductions in Greenhouse Gas emissions are achieved by decreasing oil and coal use and utilizing biomass energy, natural gas and improving energy efficiency.

TAPPI conducts annual targeted conferences such as IBBC (International Bioenergy & Bioproducts) Conference and PEERS (Pulping, Engineering, Environmental, Recycling and Sustainability).

We attract multiple countries around the globe who attend these conferences, to learn and share knowledge concerning these topics. The information can then be taken back to their specific mills and manufacturing facilities.

Q. Apart of Agro, Wood & waste paper, has TAPPI been researching on any new substance for papermaking?

The industry, as a whole, has been experimenting with Wheat Straw, Hemp, Bamboo, Cotton, Jute and many plant based materials. These types of experiments involve suppliers to the pulp and paper industry, such as chemical and equipment suppliers. In addition, many universities combine their experience to work on these projects.

On a slightly different topic, many non-traditional products such as Nanocellulose properties are now being utilized in automobiles, air plane wings, boats, clothing and many more product lines in many countries. One of TAPPl’s newest divisions is the International Nanotechnology Division.