Paper360 - September/October 2017 - 40
millwise | AMERICAN EAGLE
Ready to Compete for
It took a phoenix to let an eagle soar again.
Greek mythology describes
the phoenix as the bird that is cyclically regenerated or reborn; typically the
phoenix rises from the ashes. In this story,
the phoenix is an eagle-American Eagle
Paper Mills, Tyrone, PA. It began Project
Phoenix in 2013 to "reinvent the mill's critical infrastructures by primarily focusing
Energy-water, steam, electricity-was
the main target. The mill was built in 1880
and is one of the oldest operating paper
mills in the US. Management realized
improvement had to be made to ensure
the mill's future; the project also provided
immense environmental benefits.
The mill now produces 85,000 tpy of
uncoated printing and writing grades using
a 100 percent recycled furnish. There are
two 1940s-vintage paper machines (Pusey &
Jones), which have gone through numerous
upgrades over the years. "There's not much
original stuff left," notes American Eagle
CEO Mike Grimm.
Its main market segment is recycled copy
paper. American Eagle can take advantage
of many government (local, state, federal)
regulations that mandate the use of recycled
content in the paper that "tax-supported
offices" buy. "We've grown rapidly in this
segment recently," Grimm says. The mill
also produces general offset, envelope, and
some colored paper grades, as well as private label paper.
Project Phoenix addressed multiple
issues facing the mill. Grimm lists the three
* Power boiler;
* Steam turbine generator;
* Proprietary frequency converter.
The mill's frequency converter was the
only one of its type in the world. As Grimm
points out, "If it had failed, it would have
been catastrophic for continuity."
There were also issues with the insurer,
which wanted changes to the electrical system.
A consultant had done an EPC study earlier, but came in with a price tag of US$15-16
million. Management decided to design the
project in-house, although a general contractor was hired. "We had a great team with
great buy-in at all levels of the organization,"
The process began in 2013 with a lot of
evaluation. The mill was spending about
US$12 million annually on steam, power
generation and purchased power. As the team
went through the mill, it started to discover
it had opened a "can of worms" because of
the equipment inefficiency (too big, too old).
Basically, the three main pieces-boiler,
steam turbine generator, old static frequency
converter-were due to fail and if any one of
the three did, the mill would need to be shut.
"We also realized how much steam we need
to run the paper machines and this put us in
the direction of a package boiler," Grimm adds.
The project team studied multiple alternatives and made technical decisions by early
2015. To get through the capitalization of the
project, ownership had to be restructured. In
June/July 2015, orders for the larger equipment were placed.
Construction started in February 2016.
Luckily, an existing building was able to
house the new package boiler. The new
Babcock & Wilcox natural gas-fired package boiler looks like it was made for the space,
Grimm says. The new boiler and frequency
converter were turned on in mid-July 2016.
American Eagle CEO Mike Grimm.