How Energy Conservation saved Fambeau River Paper

Rising energy costs caught this Wisconsin paper mill napping, and it soon shut down because it was unable to innovate. Someone else bought it and turned it around by measuring, modifying, monitoring and listening to people.

The Fambeau River Paper Mill in Prince County, Wisconsin USA employed 13% of the city?s residents until rising energy costs shut it down in 2006. Critics wrote it off as an energy dinosaur unable to adapt. But that was before another company bought it out and resuscitated it as a fleet-footed winner.

Its collapse was a long time coming and almost inevitable. Wisconsin electricity prices had grown a third since 1997, the machinery was antiquated and the dependence on fossil power absolute. So what did the new owners change, and is there anything we can learn from this?

The key to understanding what suddenly went right was the new owners? ability to listen. They requested a government Energy Assessment that suggested a number of small step changes that took them where they needed to go in terms of energy saving. These included enhancements in steam systems and fuel switch modifications. However they needed more than that.

The second game changer was tracking down key members of the old workforce and listening to them too. This combination enabled them to finally hire back 92% of the original labour force under the same terms and conditions – and still make a profit (the other 8% had moved on elsewhere or retired). The combined energy savings produced a payback plan of 5.25 years. Three years into the project their capital investment of $15 million had already clawed back the following electricity savings.

  • Evaporator Temperature Control $2,245,000
  • Hot Water Heat Recovery $2,105,000
  • Paper Machine Devronisers $1,400,000
  • Increased Boiler Output $1,134,000
  • Paper Machine Modifications; $761,000
  • Motive Air Dryer $610,000
  • Accumulator Savings $448,000
  • Densified Fuels Plant $356,000

In terms of carbon dioxide produced, the Fambeau River Paper Mill?s contribution dropped from 1 ton to 600 pounds.

How well do you know where your company?s energy spend is concentrated, and how this compares with your industry average; could you be doing better if you innovated, and by how much? Get these questions answered by asking ecoVaro how easy it could be to get on top of your carbon metrics. This could cost you a phone call and a payback on it so rapid it’s not worth stopping to calculate.

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IT Risk and Control Solutions Specialists – Why you need them more than ever

Over the years, the capabilities of IT systems have certainly grown by leaps and bounds. But so have the risks that accompany them. Countless threats to IT systems now exist that are capable of seriously disrupting business operations. That’s why companies have to conduct assessments aimed at making sure their systems are still capable of functioning effectively, efficiently, and securely all the time.

If you think you’ve been lucky enough to be spared from these threats, then maybe it’s because you haven’t conducted a risk assessment on your IT system recently. All too often, we hear of CIOs who believed their IT system was in tip-top condition, only to be later caught off-guard by a critical system breakdown that would eventually cripple their business for days or weeks.

More information assets to look after

If, before, you only had to worry about regular office applications, workstations, a LAN and a server, today’s varied and more sophisticated information assets are more challenging to maintain.

In addition to network operating systems, database management systems, content management systems, email systems, virtualization platforms, document management systems, business intelligence applications, and accounting software, a typical enterprise may also have to look after firewalls, intrusion detection systems, storage and backup systems, and data loss prevention systems, to mention a few.

These understandably require the services of experts spanning a wide range of skill sets.

Rising threats to corporate identity and privacy

Individuals are no longer just the ones being preyed upon by identity thieves. Businesses can now be subject to corporate identity theft as well. You could wake up one day finding your business already accused of carrying out illegal activities, a big chunk of your money gone, and your directors? seats already occupied by complete strangers.

To make things worse, corporate threats aren’t just coming from the outside.

Threats to corporate privacy, for instance, can come from within the organisation itself. Sensitive information like trade secrets and financial data are often leaked out (purposely or inadvertently) by employees. This is largely caused by the ever growing number of options for communications and transferring data (e.g. emails, instant messaging, blogs, social networking sites, ftp, P2P, etc.).

Greater challenges in designing, developing, and implementing policies and programs

Laws and regulations like SOX and Solvency II, which have direct impacts on IT, are on the rise. That is why corporate policies and programs now require sweeping changes. You now have to be more deliberate in integrating IT when establishing governance, internal controls, change management, incident management, and performance management.

A solid understanding on widely accepted frameworks and good practices like COBIT, COSO, and CMMI will help you considerably in such undertakings. Using these frameworks as guidelines will not only help you keep your policies and programs attuned to the times, they will also keep you in compliance with regulations.

Increasing demand for disaster recovery and business continuity capabilities

Every time you have a down time, you increase the probability of losing your customers to competitors. The longer the down time, the greater that probability becomes. Therefore, when a major disruption strikes, you should be able to recover at the soonest. If possible, you should be able to deliver products and services as usual.

This of course requires spending to increase your disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) capabilities. Are you ready for it? Migrating your IT infrastructure from traditional systems to the latest technologies that are better equipped for BC/DR requires careful planning and implementation to ensure an optimal return on investment.

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A Business Case for Sharing

We blogged about sharing services in a decentralised business context recently, and explained why we think why these should be IT-Based for speedy delivery. This is not to say that all shared services projects worldwide have been resounding successes. This is often down to the lack of a solid business case up front. We decided to lay out the logic behind this process.

Management Overview ? The overview includes a clear definition of why the current situation is unacceptable, the anticipated benefits of sharing, and an implementation plan were it to go ahead. The project should not proceed until the stakeholders have considered and agreed on this.

Alternatives Considered ? The next stage is to get closer to the other options in order to determine whether an alternative might perhaps be preferable. Substitutes for shared services are often doing nothing, improving the current method, and outsourcing the service to a third party.

The Bottom Line in Business ? Sharing services comes at an initial cost of infrastructure changes, and the impact on human capital (the latter deserves its own blog). The following need careful consideration from the financial angle:

Numbers to Work Through

  • Manpower to design and roll the project out in parallel with the existing organisation.
  • Capital for creating facilities at the central point including civil works, furniture and equipment and IT infrastructure.
  • The costs of travel, feeding and accommodation. These can be significant depending on the time that implementation takes.
  • The opportunity loss of diverting key staff – and the cost of temporary replacements – if appointing line staff to the project team.
  • Crystal-clear project metrics including (a) the direct, realisable savings (b) the medium and long-term effects on profit and (c) where to deploy the savings

Risk Management

Shared services projects don’t go equally smoothly, although planning should reduce the risk to manageable levels. Nonetheless it is important to imagine potential snags, decide how to mitigate them and what the cost might be.

We believe in implementing shared services on a pilot basis in the business unit that eventually provides them. We recommend building these out to other branches only when new processes are working smoothly.

Moving On From a Decision

We recommend you revisit your management overview, the logic behind it, the assumptions you made, and the costs and benefits you envisage before deciding to go ahead

The final step in proving a business case is doable should be fleshing out your roadmap into a detailed operations plan with dependencies on a spreadsheet.

How CRM-eCommerce Integration can help you Win a Price War

There are a number of reasons why more people are buying stuff online. One of the biggest is price. You can afford to sell your goods at cheaper prices on the Internet because you’re free of the usual operating expenses like rent, electricity, and staff salaries. That should translate to some nice savings, right?

No savings in a price war

Sadly, there?s one more thing that can drive your prices even lower: a price war. Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, a good number of online retailers are now trying to undersell each other. So even if they are able to achieve reduced OPEX, they would still find it difficult to make substantial savings.

What you need to understand is that, while price is a big motivator for buying online, it is no longer the only factor experienced online shoppers consider when choosing between two online shops.

Customers who buy purely on the basis of price, are very fickle. They can easily jump ship as soon as they discover another online store offering better discount. If what you’re looking for are repeating, loyal customers, you can’t make low prices your key differentiator.

Winning customer loyalty

Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, buyers will keep coming back to you if they find in your website true value for their money. There certainly are people who don’t just look at price tags when buying products from the Web. These folks are looking for the total package.

But other than affordable prices, what factors can win customer loyalty? You’re probably thinking a fresh user interface, multiple payment options, a good return policy, prompt delivery, reviews and testimonials, product comparisons, and so on.

Well, those are important too and you certainly should have those features and characteristics in place.

Meeting customers? needs through CRM-eCommerce integration

But there?s more you can do to enhance the customer?s experience on your site. Offering exactly the products they’re looking for and providing all relevant information they need when they need it, will give them a sense of belonging.

Since different customers have different desires you obviously would have to know your customers first before you can attempt to fulfil those desires. And, honestly, the only way to do that with accuracy and precision, and the only way to collect a significant amount of relevant customer information and make sense of it all, is by integrating CRM with your e-commerce platform.

Increasing Sales and Savings from integrating CRM into e-Commerce

The main benefit of integrating CRM with e-commerce is that it will help you enhance the customer experience. That’s cool but what does that translate to monetarily? Well, for one, that can significantly increase customer retention. Higher customer retention can only lead to increased sales in the long run.

As with regards to savings, if you are able to deliver exactly what your customers want, you can significantly bring down refunds and charge-backs.

Very few businesses have the financial resources to meet their competitors head on in a price war. Chances are, you’re not one of those few. Still, whether you like it or not you’re already in the thick of it. By building customer relationships, you can win the price war without engaging in it.

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