As some West Coast port congestion eases in the United States, there’s reason to believe that the paper industry supply chain is showing signs of righting itself. That may ultimately be the case, but the sheer reach and impact of the disruption indicates no quick fix is on the horizon.
In the United States, diversion of shipments from overwhelmed West Coast ports to East Coast destinations is on the cusp of causing major delays and backups along the Atlantic seaboard. Overseas, escalating tensions in the Russia-Ukraine war and mandatory Shanghai COVD-19 shutdowns are causing similar concern. Without access to the world’s largest container port, other Chinese ports and airports are being inundated with exports and unable to keep pace with demand.
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No one in the industry is exempt from these issues or the consequences of the larger supply chain upheaval. Flexibility and innovation are needed in the face of uncertainty. Tissue manufacturers are turning to Valmet for creative solutions.
3 supply chain constraints affecting the pulp and paper industry
From tissue to finished paper products, manufacturers continue to struggle with three major, interrelated constraints surrounding raw materials that pose logistical, operational, and profitability obstacles.
Imports of paper have been waylaid, leaving manufacturers that routinely depend on this source with no solid alternatives. In some parts of North and South America, a lack of critical supplies — specifically pulp and some chemicals essential to the papermaking process — is causing some major manufacturers to idle production lines.
In the rare event that finished paper or raw materials are located outside of the United States, there is the issue of transportation. Shipping containers are scarce as item inventories across industries remain on ships or in ports awaiting distribution. Also, once the containers are transported to their destination, trucking labor and availability shortages complicate the logistics of having empty shipping containers returned to their points of origin for re-use.
Overcoming the obstacles of procuring raw materials for tissue and paper production is costly. On average, manufacturers are facing shipping costs that range anywhere from three to eight times higher than pre-crisis rates.
Valmet innovations help manufacturers find timely, creative solutions
Raw materials scarcity and steep cost of doing business has fostered industry-wide uncertainty about everything from order fulfillment and delivery dates to capital equipment purchases. Manufacturers are understandably cautious, but none can afford to take a prolonged “wait and see” position.
Aligning with suppliers that are agile, innovative, and flexible can provide creative solutions that offer better management of unpredictable supply chain circumstances. This is particularly true for tissue manufacturers that need to keep their lines running without risking limited raw materials.
Valmet has long been the trusted tissue equipment supplier. Our commitment to creating advanced machinery, technologies, and services that help manufacturers implement practical solutions is proving invaluable during these challenging times:
- Quick delivery equipment provides opportunities for prompt receipt of Valmet converting (rolled and folded) and packaging equipment. Through this service, manufacturers can affordably secure machinery that might otherwise be delayed or unavailable due to supply chain disruptions.
- Valmet Spare Parts has more than 30,000 OEM parts in stock for all Valmet equipment, available through traditional or online ordering. Easy accessibility in reviewing inventory, finding certified quality parts, and global distribution mean production lines experience minimal downtime and critical spare parts can typically be stocked on the shop floor for preventive maintenance.
- Expert On-Line is a 24/7 remote assistance tool that offers subscription-based equipment assistance and troubleshooting assistance to manufacturers anywhere in the world — no need for a technician to visit on-site. Leveraging the latest technologies for remote diagnostics and machine model compatibility, the Expert Online team can quickly diagnose and fix problems, and tune operational parameters directly from remote.
Undoubtedly, supply chain disruption across industries has changed how the world does business. Making strategic decisions about the suppliers you rely on to support you through the current uncertainty is key in having future success. Contact the Valmet team to discuss the innovative equipment, technologies, and service solutions to fit your needs.
Written by Pete Augustine
Pete Augustine oversees the entire operation for Körber in North America, including strategic planning, sales, and production. Augustine holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin and an MBA from Purdue. He also served as a Captain in the United States Army. Augustine was named a 2017 TAPPI Fellow and currently serves on the TAPPI Board of Directors as its Vice Chair.