By: Todd Van Gompel, Vice President of Baisch Engineering
Baisch Engineering has a long history with Little Rapids Corporation. In the late 70’s / early 80’s, we helped Little Rapids Corporation move an existing tissue machine from New Jersey to Shawano, WI. Almost 40 years later, we were fortunate enough to be asked back to replace this same tissue machine with a new tissue machine. Baisch provided the budgeting phases as well as the complete integration engineering, but this project didn’t come without its challenges.
As the project manager for the detailed engineering portion of this project, it was my responsibility to make sure we were on schedule, staying on budget, and that the overall process was moving along smoothly. In the early part of our planning phase, we were faced with a difficult situation. Machines from 40 years ago are a lot different in both configuration and size compared to modern paper machines. We were challenged to replace a smaller, older machine with a much larger, modern machine within the existing infrastructure of the existing building.
After performing a detailed analysis of the machine’s beams and frames, our team placed new loads on those beams. We had to come up with some creative ways to readjust the machine haul in order to accept the new configuration and weight of the new machine.
During the initial planning phase, the team had planned for a 36 day shutdown. For a small, family owned company like Little Rapids Corporation, shutting down one of their machines for 36 days is a big deal. Throughout the project, our team had a great line of communication and when it came time for the shutdown, we worked hard with our partners to find opportunities to shorten the amount of time the machine would be down for. We utilized our proprietary checkout and startup system to help shorten the overall downtime.
In the end, the team took out the old machine, installed the new equipment and machine, and shortened the length of the shutdown to just 30 days from sheet to sheet! It was a big accomplishment for our team and it really meant a lot to Little Rapids Corporation that we were able to speed up the process by almost a week.
One of the individuals from Little Rapids Corporation actually came up to me and thanked our team for being a part of the project. “You guys have our future in your hands and we trust you,” she said. “Thank you for caring about our future.”
With the new machine, Little Rapids Corporation is able to produce more paper at a faster production rate. It’s more efficient and more cost-friendly. Being involved with this project when it was just an idea in someone’s head, working with Little Rapids Corporation through the budgeting phase, and then having the opportunity to be a part of the detailed engineering and the final machine installation made the whole experience really special for Baisch Engineering. We were involved with everything from beginning to the end, cover to cover and we were able to deliver Little Rapids Corporation with the solution they needed to be a raging success.