How a Pulp Mill Worked to Become More Reliable

Executive Summary

The executive leadership at a diversified wood products company determined that there was a need for a reliability initiative within one of their pulp mills. The mill was originally built in 1957 as a chemical pulp mill, employed 350 employees, and generated revenues of over $100 million. The mill wanted to begin to shift its maintenance strategy from reactive to proactive and begin creating documentation and strategy around its reliability processes.

To help achieve this goal, the mill partnered with Allied Reliability to bring effective change management and work execution management to the team. During their work with Allied Reliability, the mill successfully implemented phase one of their reliability strategy, began documenting business processes, and created a change leadership team/program that trained and mentored employees around change management and work execution management.

Reactive Maintenance and No Business Process Causes Strain on Employees and Budget

Before their effort with Allied Reliability, the mill was running their maintenance strategy as a reactive model, stressing their workforce and budget. The team did not have a reliability strategy or asset management policy. They also lacked basic business process documentation, relying solely on tribal knowledge. Lastly, the mill did not have a resource dedicated to change management even though they knew change needed to happen.

Partnering with Allied Reliability for a More Reliable Mill

After working with a consultant and receiving references from others in the industry, the wood products company decided to partner with Allied Reliability on their journey to creating a more reliable mill. They began with a systems review to determine their company's and assets' key pain points. The mill focused the first part of its reliability work on change management and work execution management.

Allied Reliability began a yearlong project with the mill to help them with their top three priorities:

  1. Creating a reliability roadmap and strategy
  2. Asset management policy
  3. Change leadership

Over the year, the mill and Allied worked together to map out current work processes and identify gaps and needs. After completing the mapping process, they began the planning and scheduling work team certification program. This was done through classroom training, hands-on training, and mentoring in the field.

They built a plan to continue their work execution management strategy, and they identified a change leader and team responsible for communicating the work done on this project and pushing the cultural change for a more reliable mill.

The Mill sees the Success of their Hard Work

At the end of the phase one journey, the mill was able to see the results of their hard work:

  1. Wrench time improved by a couple of points, and wait time went down.
  2. A communication board was developed to discuss change, work orders, feedback, etc., and was used as a meeting point for employees and their leaders.
  3. Work feedback forms between the planners and maintenance staff started to come back. It reinforced that what they were doing mattered, and they were beginning to see results.
  4. They began to recognize and reward individual employees and teams for their work to change the culture from reactive to reliable.
  5. They began to see a more satisfied workforce who began to understand the importance of communication and documentation. Employees reported feeling like there was a process and structure around the work they were doing, and roles and responsibilities were easier to identify.
  6. They used a project map to identify highs and lows within phase one. This allowed their change team to communicate and help pull them through the rough patches.
  7. The change leader from the mill was duplicated within the corporate structure of the diversified wood products company. It is now required when new projects begin at other plants within the company.


Transforming reliability maintenance requires a journey from reactive through preventative and then a predictive approach. For many companies, a culture shift is required. Businesses are often in distinct parts of their transformation, and through a simple assessment, Allied Reliability can help you and your team determine where to start.

Reliability wins come in all different shapes and sizes, and what you accomplish in one piece, such as work execution management, spills over into the rest of the effort. It is important to celebrate the small wins while also focusing on the long-term reliability roadmap.