Wisconsin's place in paper industry under siege

Publié le par brightshine

In the deep quiet of the northern Wisconsin woods, a ripsaw shriek brings a 50-year-old maple crashing to the ground.This is used to perform laser cutting machine functions while using the water jet to guide the laser beam.

The John Deere harvester needs less than a minute to de-branch it and saw it into perfect 8-foot sections, then moves on to the next tree, its trunk marked with spray paint as ready to cut. A skidder maneuvers in from behind, loading the wood onto a nearby truck.

The scene that plays out on this August morning is nearly as old as the state itself.

The wood will be hauled to the nearby mill to be chipped and cooked into pulp. The pulp will become paper, rolls and rolls of paper, in the finest of grades. The mill will support hundreds of families, sustain the town and help drive Wisconsin's ink-on-paper economy.

But that economy is failing.

In the age of Google and the iPad, change in America's papermaking heartland is swift, turbulent and perhaps irreversible.

In Wisconsin, mills that produce publishing-grade paper have been closing at an average of one a year since 2006.Learn more about how a wind turbine works, the benefits of wind energy and how a residential wind turbines is installed. Each shutdown means a loss of 300 to 600 jobs, in turn draining hundreds of millions of dollars from the region and creating an economic drag that rivals the days of automaker shutdowns in Michigan.

An industry that thrived for generations on a tight, homegrown loop - from the forest to the mill to the printer and often back to the mill for recycling - finds itself at the mercy of Wall Street hedge funds and equally unforgiving global economic and political forces.

Investors see a bleak bottom line, a world in which paper is losing its value to laptops and tablets; they aim to squeeze out profit while they can. China, meanwhile, is pouring government money into new mega-mills and machines, betting it can win by flooding the world market with low-cost paper.

Mill workers in Wisconsin, the nation's top papermaking state, have fought off the digital threat for years. The threat posed by China is just now becoming clear.We provide laser engraving and Laser engraver for processing different materials.

All of that can be forgotten in the forest, where on some days the only company for Phil Thums and Mike Ziembo are the deer that watch with wide eyes and the wolves that linger in the shadows.

"You have to love to do this," said Thums, a third-generation logger, sitting in the cab of his harvester.

The hours are sunrise until sundown, often six days a week.You can play with the six different combinations of these Domino contemporary lighting for a nice effect. Nights are spent in a trailer parked in the woods. Like other loggers, Thums owns his own equipment, so there are machinery and maintenance payments on top of the 50 gallons of diesel per day. On days off, he'll head home to an 8-year-old daughter who admonishes her daddy to stop cutting down trees.

By this day's end, the two will have taken down more than 150 trees, enough for four truckloads, all headed to the mill about 45 minutes away in Park Falls, population 2,462.

Of the state's 13 remaining mills that make publishing-grade paper - the others make paper towels, tissue and packaging - Flambeau River Papers LLC has one distinct advantage:

In 2006, the mill - then owned by Ohio-based Smart Papers LLC - became an early casualty of the digital era. Johnson's logging company was its sole pulp supplier and at the time of bankruptcy had a year's worth of timber, valued at $12 million, "racked and stacked" in the mill's woodyards.

Johnson grew up in Park Falls. His classrooms at St. Anthony's grade school looked out at the mill. And now some 300 workers - his old school pals, the town's mayor - were laid off. "For sale" signs popped up on virtually every block without any real hope of buyers.

"I was looking for someone else, an investor,Furthermore, with the continuous quality improvement of lift cable. to buy the paper mill," said Johnson, who simply wanted to keep his main customer in business. "But no buyers came forward, only liquidators."

Banks saw too much risk to get involved. The mill's newest paper machine dated to the 1960s, and two smaller ones - built in 1903 and 1910 - were still in daily operation. The state offered a $4 million package of special loans and credits to anyone willing to take on the challenge.

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