1. Pulp and Paper is known to be a unique and oldest sector whose needs, demands and dynamics are different in many ways compared to other industries. What is your perception in this regard?
The particular needs of the Pulp and Paper Industry are actually the roots of my company. During my years as Paper Machine Clothing service engineer, the “standard” equipment frustrated me a lot. I found that products that are not specifically designed for the Paper Industry simply don’t last. Developing specific products for this harsh environment has become a true passion for me.
2. Can you please outline the basic structure of Feltest Equipment BV?
Feltest Equipment BV is a smaller company with an enhanced network of experienced and dedicated partners in R&D, production and sales. This gives Feltest a flexible yet professional shell, enabling us to react fast to customer demand and changing market conditions. Feltest has local sales agents in 30 countries to assure that also country-specific demand is well understood and handled.
3. For the last 20+ years Feltest Equipment BV has been a leading provider of innovative solutions in Pulp and Paper Industry through the development of measuring instruments and tools which help to improve the performance of Paper Machine Clothing, like forming fabrics, press felts and dryer screens. Would you like to share some insights on the company’s products range?
Feltest Equipment BV focusses on the needs of the Production Manager and Super-intendent, especially when they want to trouble-shoot or optimize the runnability of the Paper Machine. Feltest’s measuring instruments, like fabric tension and caliper gauges, felt moisture & permeability meters, are all portable and can be used to discover the smallest deviations – and on a paper machine a small deviation in the wet section can have big consequences for the over-all productivity or sheet quality. Over the last years Feltest has also added Health & Safety related products to its portfolio. The Capto felt clamp for example really helps the operators to install new press felts faster and more comfortable. New is the Body Cooling vest. It is activated simply by soaking it in water. After that it can be on “stand-by” in the control room for several days and be worn as soon as there is a need. After all, hot working conditions represent a health risk because of loss of concentration and dehydration. Feltest Body Cooling vests both help preventing these problems, but they also bring immediate relief and faster recovery.
4. What are your views on Paper Industry practices? What are the major challenges? What action plan would you like to suggest to Pulp and Paper Industry manufacturers.
Especially in Europe and North America there is a clear trend towards outsourcing. It is already pretty standard that maintenance is done by specialized external companies. But when do you become too dependent? Nowadays many Production Managers are solely relying on suppliers for surveys on their paper machine clothing. I think that is a risk; due to differences in the types of service equipment (and their handling and maintenance condition) reports from different suppliers are not comparable. This means one cannot easily detect trends. Another point to keep in mind is that the Service Engineers are employed and paid by the paper machine clothing supplier, not by the paper mill. If your mill has its own database of measurement data, you can find any abnormalities yourself and ask the appropriate supplier for advice. In this way you can benefit from the supplier’s knowledge and wide experience and at the same time enhance your own knowledge and trouble-shooting skills. Also the paper machine clothing Service Engineer will appreciate the mill’s own measurement data, as it will put his service/trouble-shooting measurements in a clearer perspective.
5. What kind of value added solution you offer to the Pulp and Paper Industry? Your plans for new product developments? What are the opportunities you find in Pulp and Paper Industry?
When you go down to the core, Feltest offers the tools to study the on-going paper making process. As paper making is very dynamic with a large number of variables you need to understand what is happening in the machine before you can make decisions to achieve your goals, like more tons, better quality or lower costs. Due to my personal experience as a Service Engineer I know there are still many parts of the forming, pressing and drying processes that still have their ‘secrets’ for the crew. My head is full of ideas for products that give the paper maker a better insight in these processes. We just need time and money (…laughs…) to turn ideas into great products.
6. Looking at your company’s growth till date, you have shown growth almost every year, even in difficult times, what were the reasons behind that? What makes you so different from your competitors in terms of developing these products?
Focus and entrepreneurship! Feltest is focused on a very small market – people who want to improve the performance of paper machine clothing. Due to the personal experience of the Feltest team we fully understand the demands and wishes of our users. With a flexible, entrepreneurial spirit we continuously strive to fulfill these demands and wishes - worldwide
7. ROI is the first question before finalizing a technology/equipment. Kindly justify the value on investment in Pulp and Paper Industry? How do you see things going forward in Asian region?
The question about the Return On Investment of a Feltest product is my favorite because it is so extremely positive: somewhere between minutes and a few hours! If you can avoid just 1 sheet break, use a press felt a few days longer or reduce a maintenance stop with 15 minutes; in all these cases you have already earned back your modest investment. As soon as paper mills know how much money they lose when the machine is not producing (the right quality), they will value the products of Feltest Equipment BV.
8. Emerging markets like India & other Asian regions are currently witnessing faster maturity in Pulp and Paper Industry towards adoption of IT driven systems and sophisticated technology applications. How do you foresee opportunities in such markets and what are your strategies to expand business in these markets?
Compared to many other industries, the margins on producing paper are rather thin. Automated systems can contribute to efficient systems and better profits, both in mature and emerging markets. But no matter how automated your systems are, you will always need knowledgeable and creative human operators that can handle the exceptions and errors. Looking at the paper machine, the on-line control systems have their advanced algorithms and sensors at fixed positions. But man’s versatility and ability to combine many different types of information (like vision, sound, touch and smell) makes him the ultimate trouble shooter – especially when he uses products from Feltest! (…laughs…)
9. Everyone talks about effective customer service, ensuring Customer Delight. How do you ensure this at your company?
Customer service is an integral part of Feltest’s business. Just as an example: we also repair many competition products. This saves the customer a lot of searching and waiting, so that he can spend his time on other and maybe more important tasks. But also from another perspective: for Feltest as supplier, customer service is also very important as it reveals how products are performing in the field. Sometimes it even gives us inspiration for new product developments!
10. Pulp and Paper Technology (www.pulpandpaper-technology.com ) is a connecting point for buyers and suppliers across the global Pulp and Paper industry. Used daily as means of creating partnerships and as a point of reference by professionals within the pulp and paper industry, this comprehensive resource supplies the latest news releases, detailed information on industry projects, event information and careful segregation of products and services. What do you think about our website www.pulpandpaper-technology.com which promotes & brands Pulp and Paper industry today on such a wide scale?
We all know that the internet contains a lot of useful information, but also a lot of non-relevant information. If you know exactly what you are looking for there is usually no problem finding it. The situation is different when you want to have a problem solved and don’t really have a picture of how the solution could look like. In these cases and when don’t know the exact name or terms the search becomes much harder. Therefore the Pulp and Paper Technology website has so much added-value for both buyers and suppliers in the Paper industry. It narrows all that information down to what is relevant for the world’s Pulp and Paper industry. And that is good for both buyers and suppliers!