Changes!My how time flies when you're having fun.One day you're a young man tugging a comb through your hair and chasing girls and… It just seems a few days later and your comb is an unused artifact and you're walking a girl down the aisle to a young man. But those aren't the changes I want to write about this month.I was looking at the finishing line recently and got to thinking about the first pulp finishing line I saw, and even worked on.
The time was 1968. The location was an old pulp machine that dried 150 tons per day of sulphite pulp into sheets, cut wrapped and baled for sale as market pulp into Europe. Three of us worked on the finishing line of this pulp machine. We worked eight hour shifts which meant that each shift handled 50 tons. Job rotation is nothing new, during each shift we rotated through the three positions: two wrapping and one "on the boxes".
First, let me describe the "on the boxes" job. The sheet of pulp was cut length-wise into strips and the strips were then chopped into sheets, about the size of MeadowLake’s bales of pulp. This was all mechanized and didn't require any help from us. The sheets dropped into boxes which had a slot in the front, allowing the box man to reach in and pick up as many as he wanted. He could pick up a heavy stack and make few trips or he could pick up a few sheets and make many trips. However, he had to carry every sheet that came off the end of the machine. This meant he carried a little over sixteen tons per shift from the end of the pulp machine to the end of the "conveyor" at one side of the pulp machine. The pulp was stacked against a backstop until there was a bale's worth. Then it was pushed along the rollers, by hand, to the scale, picking up the lower wrapper sheet that the box man had put into a slot in the conveyor. He then added or took away sheets of pulp until the needle of the scale matched 500 pounds with the top sheet of wrapper on it.
The stack of pulp then was pushed along into the bale press. The bale press was started by operating a manual level and a ram compressed the bale until a mechanical travel stop was hit, tripping the bale press and returning the ram to the top if its travel. And the pulp became the responsibility of the wrappers.
One of the wrappers would pull the bale of pulp out of the bale press and fold one end of the wrapper. He would hold it in place with a doorknob with a big spike in it. The bale was raised by operating a foot lever, feeding air to a cylinder, and lifting the bale in the air. With the bale raised, the wrapper would run some baling wire around the end of the bale and tie it using a hand operated tying machine. Meanwhile the other wrapper would fold, hold and wire the end on his right. The bale would be rotated ninety degrees (by hand) while up in the air and the wrappers would each put on a wire that held the folded ends, remove the spike and push the bale along to the forklift driver.
The forklift driver tallied the pulp, unitized it and stacked it in the pulp warehouse. He did the same job all shift. So, not counting the fork lift driver, we worked hard and carried, weighed, wrapped and wired pulp at a rate of a little over 2 tons per person per hour. Compare that to MeadowLake's finishing line at eight hundred ADMT a day at just under 37 tons per person per hour. Then, as now, the finishing line was run by PLC. Of course, in those days PLC meant pretty lively crew, not programmable logic controller.
Article by Paul Alton originally published in a corporate newsletter
Copyright Paul W. Alton 2006 through 2019 All Rights Reserved
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