Celgar’s 14-day maintenance shutdown completed earlier this month was by far, the largest maintenance shutdown in Celgar’s history.
As a 24/7 continuous production operation, the mill’s annual maintenance shutdowns are required to allow inspection, repair and change-out to the major pieces of production equipment.
This year’s shutdown, ‘The M17’ as it referred to at the mill, had more than 2,000 maintenance tasks completed with a material, services and labour price tag of $20 million, and also completed a few capital projects totalling just under $17 million. Add 14 days of downtime where the mill is not producing pulp or exporting power… and you’ve got a pretty expensive shutdown.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of pulp mill shutdowns…” said Rick Percy, Mill Operations Manager, “Some pretty big; but nothing of this magnitude. And yet throughout the shut was a sense of calm and orderliness. That only comes from good pre-planning and a desire from everyone involved to do their very best.”
The ‘everyone’ in this case included as many as 1,200 workers onsite at one time during the peak of the shutdown.
“With that many workers, multiple jobs happening simultaneously in a multiple employer environment we are pleased that our careful planning and hazard reduction procedures, combined with great team effort, resulted in no major injuries.” said Health and Safety Manager, Mark Goebel.
“The mill communicated through radio and newspaper to keep the community safe and informed; including asking for extra care and patience during the increase in traffic and traffic congestion. “We also asked our visiting contractors to respect the community and they very willingly complied.” Said Goebel. “In general the contractor group was appreciative of the support they received from the community too, and we’d like to extend our thanks in that regard.”
“This was the first year we’ve had an easy, open, two-way communication option for the community during a shutdown using our facebook page” said Sandy Hinter, the mill’s Communication Coordinator, “The photos we shared capturing a glimpse of the magnitude of work being performed were really well received.”
The mill was constructed in 1961 and did a major overhaul in 1993, but the operation today still uses some of the ‘original’ pieces of equipment.
Annual inspection and maintenance is key to keeping all of the equipment in optimal running condition. In many cases the mill has two of the same pieces of equipment. One that is in use, and one that is repaired and overhauled throughout the year in preparation for swap-out during the shutdown.
Planning for each shutdown begins years before it starts and is part of the mill’s Long Term Plan (LTP).
This year’s shutdown at 14-days was longer than usual, so much of the longer-duration work was aligned to occur this year.
Results from inspections during the shutdowns, are used to determine future shutdown repair plans.
According to Managing Director, Kevin Anderson “Chemical pulp mills such Celgar are very capital intensive operations and can only be sustainable with continuous, and sometimes significant, maintenance and capital investment. This year’s shut will go a long way towards supporting the long-term viability of the mill. I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to our community and the workers that supported us in executing this important maintenance shutdown.”
The Celgar mill has an annual production capacity of approximately 520,000 ADMT (Air-dried metric tonnes) of pulp, and exports approximately 170 GW hours of ‘green energy’ every year.
The mill employs approximately 400 people.