March 31, 2022 - Domtar announced that the A62 paper machine at its Ashdown Mill in Arkansas is once again fully operational, adding 185,000 tons of uncoated freesheet capacity to Domtar's manufacturing network.
Domtar made the decision to idle the A62 machine in April 2020 due to reduced customer demand that was brought on the COVID-19 pandemic.
"With offices, businesses and schools closed in a large part of our markets, we had to take the appropriate steps to optimize our operations and match our capacity to our reduced demand," said Rob Melton, senior vice president, pulp and paper commercial.
As the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, demand for uncoated freesheet paper increased four percent in 2021 compared to 2020, driven by increased retail activity, in-person store visits, reopened schools and employees returning to the office, according to Domtar.
"Our customers' business is steadily growing, and we're fortunate to be able to support that growth by leveraging our asset base's flexibility," Melton noted.
Domtar explained that restarting a large uncoated freesheet paper machine isn't as simple as plugging in your desktop printer or turning on a lamp. It's a complex undertaking with, quite literally, a lot of moving parts. Restarting a machine such as A62 occurs over a period of months to gradually build the machine up to its current 24/7 run schedule.
Bill Edwards, senior vice president, pulp and paper operations, said, "With customer demand for paper on the rise, we knew we had to act quickly to restart the machine to ensure we could continue to meet our customers' needs."
Domtar pointed out that the mill team faced an aggressive timeline to restart and steadily increase production on a machine that hadn't run in more than a year. Moreover, many members of the team were unfamiliar with the machine. They were recalled to the mill specifically for this project after having previously worked in other areas of the mill prior to the pandemic. The team pulled together and was able to restart the machine and sheeter on time and budget.
Mill Manager J.C. Allaire, added, "I'm very proud of the way the entire team at the Ashdown Mill responded to this task with agility and enthusiasm."
Domtar is a leading provider of a wide variety of fiber-based products including communication, specialty and packaging papers, market pulp and airlaid nonwovens. To learn more, visit: www.domtar.com.
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