CASE STUDY: Manufacturing Rolls Non-Stop at Paper Company

26 Apr

plant connectivity increases productivity


KapStone Paper and Packaging makes unbleached kraft paper that goes into the packages, wraps and surfaces that are part of everyday life. The company’s production is converted into everything from gift boxes, to paper bags, to subsurfaces for laminate countertops and furniture. Two mills in Charleston, South Carolina and Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina operate around the clock and together are capable of producing 1.3 million tons of paper annually.

“Downtime costs about $33,000 an hour, per machine. You never recover that because you’re running 24/7/365.”- Christopher Deslandes, CIO

Business Situation

When KapStone bought the two Carolina mills from their previous owners, each mill had a manufacturing execution system (MES) that had been in place for almost 20 years. The facilities were immediately looking at technology to replace the outdated systems.


  • Minimize unplanned and planned downtime to support 24/7/265 production lines
  • Implement the new system in the shortest amount of time
  • Standardize on the same MES application as the rest of KapStone, if possible.

System availability was the most important consideration by far, according to KapStone. Plant management was understandably wary of making a change, because the mills had not used a Windows server for its most critical manufacturing application before.

Availability Equals Time and Money

Exactly why does availability matter so much to KapStone? If the MES system stops, they
can make reels of paper coming off the paper machines for a little while, but they can not cut the rolls to match orders because sizing information comes from the Elixir system. KapStone only had a little time before they were forced to shut down the paper machines.  At nearly $33,000 per machine for an hour of downtime, if all three production lines were affected the impact would be nearly $100,000 for every hour lost.

Restarting production lines is a significant effort because of the physical and mechanical factors involved. The entire process could take hours. Investing in a solution built for maximum uptime takes the risk out of the equation. With the ftServer system, KapStone was able to tell plant management that they were implementing a system built to NOT shut down. This gave them confidence in the new technology.

Specifically Configured MES In Just Months

KapStone wanted to avoid having the project stretch out for years. Yet Charleston wanted to use roll tracking, which required integrating Elixir with PLCs (programmable logic controllers) that interface with and control the paper machines and wrap lines in productions.

Being able to implement the application and the required product development within months, instead of years like some of their competitor was was an important advantage for KapStone. They were on the next version of their application by the time others only had their first project completed.

Business Impact

The Charleston mill has been using the ftServer hardware, fault-tolerant ftScalable storage and MAJIQ Elixir software since Deceiver of 2009. The Elixir system supports Charleston’s entire production capacity of 882,000 tons of paper.

“With the Elixir software and ftServer hardware, we’re able to provide the highest level of availability for the Charleston paper mill.” System availability is expecitonally high, approaching 100%. Server reliability compares well with the previous MES. Plus, the ftServer system monitors its own operation and ocntains problems that would bring other servers to a halt. “We haven’t had any hardware issues that have affected production, and we’re very impressed with that,” Said Beach.

Solution Profile

  • Sales order processing (SOP) and manufacturing execution system (MES) for the paper mill
  • Enables order management, roll production and inventory management, domestic/international shipping, and invoicing
  • Supports 882,000 tons of production capacity
  • Helps ensure 24/7/265 operation
  • Approaches 100% continuous availability

Products Used

  • Stratus ftServer systems
  • Stratus ftScalableTM storage
  • MAJIQ Elixir SOP/MES Software
  • Microsoft Windows Server operating system
  • Microsoft SQL Server database software

Interested in how CBT and Stratus Technologies can help drastically reduce your plants’ downtime? Contact your CBT specialist today to explore your options.