September 15, 2023

Design Prejudices -- September 2023

By Jim Thompson

I had the opportunity to walk through another relatively new mill this past week. Counting the other 22 which I have had the opportunity in the last 30 years to be a senior advisor, that makes 23.

Driving back to the airport, the folks with whom I am riding wanted to know what I saw different in these many various mills. I had to admit, there were a drastic amount of differences.

Some design choices were a matter of preference, others were a matter of prejudice. I think most companies build mills based on their unconscious prejudices and biases. In the end, they all work, more or less, but the initial capital costs, the ease of maintenance and the daily cost of operation are quite different.

The sad thing is most don't even realize their prejudices and what they might be costing them. They start without gathering the facts or hearing the options.

Now, this is going to sound like a blatant advertisement on my part, but I am going to say it anyway. Invite me to spend a day with your team, at the very beginning, and we can have an intelligent discussion on the various ways to design a mill these days. It will be the most valuable, least expensive expenditure on your entire project.

And for my clients, past, present and future, I can do this in a way that does not violate any of your deep dark secrets. At the highest level, the one everyone can see, the differences are significant and often ignored.

At least you should have a discussion of these matters and I can deliver it.

What is your opinion? Drop me a line at I would like to hear from you.

And by the way, I come to mills and talk to various departments about many subjects. To arrange my custom visit to your mill, just email me at or call me at 678-206-6010.


Young Engineering Manager of the Year, call for nominations

We are looking for an individual who has done an extraordinary project, one that almost defies belief. Its extraordinary features can be schedule, technology, cost or all three. There is an age limit on the manager eligible for this award: they must be under 35 years old when they completed the project.
We have often gotten nominees that go something like this, "I nominate Joe because he has done a great job of running our engineering department for the last fifteen years." Quite frankly, we are not interested in such nominees.
However, if you know someone who has led a very exceptional project in the recent past (the last two or three years) and meets our age requirement, we want to know about it. We want to honor them and hold them up as an example for Engineering Managers in every pulp and paper mill around the world.
Just send your nomination, with as much details as you can provide, to We will seriously consider it.

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