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Aylesford back up to full speed

One of the UKs largest paper mills in now back up to full production after a machinery fault caused the loss of around 6,300 tonnes of production.

Aylesford Newsprint operates through its PM13 and PM14 machines, but a problem caused the head box slice to bend out of shape on the larger of the two (the PM14), meaning the halting of production.

The firm's recycling operations manager Andrew Perkins said: "The flexibility of our systems have allowed us to absorb the impact of this unforseen production problem, so avoiding any restrictions on our recycling schemes. Thanks to the excellent partnerships that we have with transfer stations and hauliers, we have been able to make alternative storage and logistics arrangements where necessary, meaning that we can continue to recover and recycle  paper as normal."

Aylesford Newsprint human resources manager Martin Atkinson added: We keep a fair amount of stock in our warehouse, which allowed us to be flexible and supply from there. With the PM13 also continuing to run, we were able to keep customers happy, but the tonnages we lost from the PM14 we will never get back.

With the 900 tonnes/day machine out of commission for seven days from November 7, Atkinson praised the efforts and reactions of all concerned.

He said: We keep an awful lot of recovered paper in stock and our demand for this was also drastically cut back. But the reaction of our suppliers was brilliant with us unable to take in as much material. The reaction of Metso [machine manufacturer] from Finland was also brilliant.

We phoned them late in the evening and people arrived from Finland and Germany hours later to work on the machine. It really was all hands to the pump.

The problem arose with the head box slice, a high precision 10 metre piece of metal critical to putting paper in the machine, which was forced against an apron and bent out of shape.

This had to be re-shaped in the actual machine and with other processes such as polishing, the procedure took days.

But while both machines have now been running for the past 36 hours, Atkinson stressed what a massive piece of work the PM14 has undergone.

We have just started the machine up. Other things were changed as well during the procedure and this is something we have never done before in the machines life.

So we have got to optimise it again and set it up to run. But although it is still settling down, we are back up to full production. However, there remains the possibility that the lip slice will have to be replaced which will be a major piece of work, Atkinson added.

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