Car industry ideas drive positive change at Mörrum
The Lean manufacturing approach originated with Japanese car making so it wasn’t an obvious next step for Södra’s Mörrum mill back in 2014. Now mill manager Stefan Sandberg wouldn’t have it any other way.
The motivation for Lean was to maximise the benefits of the woodyard and brownstock washing investment project. “The upgrades were so important for Mörrum but we wanted the whole mill to be as good as it could be,” says Sandberg. “Our vision was to optimise our use of resources and improve the cooperation between maintenance and production. To get the most out of the investment, the whole mill needed to respond and Lean was a practical way to make it happen.”
Minimization of waste is Lean’s cornerstone, but the methodology also acknowledges that lots of small improvements can be as effective or more so than one big change. The key is involvement. Its effectiveness relies on everyone whose responsibilities relate to the process.
The essence of Lean is captured in Mörrum’s production system and operational principles combined with Södra’s core values in a system developed during the Produktionslyftet programme. Lean groups are built around the “Improvement Kata” which is:
1. Understand the direction in which you’re going
2. Grasp the current condition of the process
3. Establish the next target condition
4. “Plan-Do-Check-Act” towards achieving the target condition
A tangible example of Lean’s impact is the recovery boiler. The new evaporation plant installed concurrently with the brownstock washing investment produces a higher dry content in the black liquor for better energy efficiency - a challenge for the recovery boiler. Stefan Sandberg is convinced that Lean helped the mill handle this and all the debottlenecking and stabilisation which accompanies any major upgrade.
Will customers notice a difference? Annica Larsson Ahlstedt: “The customer will notice in that they will receive the pulp they ordered, on time and of top quality. Our Lean work should also shine through in our professionalism, how we treat our customers, our level of expertise and our state-of-the-art mill. Lean is about how we work together and the processes we use. It's about how we think and collaborate.”
The gains from Lean have been taken on board at Södra’s Värö and Mönsterås pulp mills, while Mörrum staff regularly visit Värö and Mönsterås, particularly when those mills have shutdowns, in order to create benchmarks and ensure an upward spiral in standards across all the facilities.