Why the BSC and Timken relationship works for Opal Australian Paper

Opal Australian Paper, a major manufacturer of packaging papers and boards and Australia’s only manufacturer of inkjet, printing and office papers including the Reflex brand, has been working with BSC as a trusted supplier for nearly 20 years.

BSC supplies a wide range of parts and products to the company’s Maryvale paper mill in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley; among them spherical roller bearings, spherical roller bearing solid-block housed units and SNT Plummer blocks by Timken®.

Don Whyte, who is the mechanical engineering manager at the Maryvale paper mill and oversees a central engineering group comprising of eight engineers, says the Timken® bearings are among the most cost competitive products in the market that can offer the level of reliability that Opal Australian Paper requires.

“One of the biggest challenges that we deal with regularly is to keep our maintenance expenditure down, while at the same time making sure that the plant is operating safely,” says Whyte.

“To achieve cost competitiveness amid market inflations, it often comes down to taking advantage of new manufacturing techniques to lower production costs. Timken® is one brand that performs very well in this regard and has managed to maintain steady prices over the years. This has in turn enabled us to remain ahead of inflations with our portfolio of products,” he says.

Opal Australian Paper’s Maryvale mill opened in 1937 and has since grown to manufacture close to 600,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard per year. In April 2015 Opal Australian Paper opened a $90 million paper recycling plant at the Maryvale mill. The plant can process up to 80,000 tonnes of wastepaper a year.

The site currently includes five paper machines, three pulp mills and two wastepaper recycling plants, which together produce approximately 1600 tonnes of paper every day.

Whyte says with such a large operation, being able to access reliable suppliers and receiving the orders on time is critical to the operations.

“This is where our collaboration with BSC is valuable. They have access to an extensive network of suppliers and as such can help us identify opportunities where we can reduce production or maintenance cost by introducing the right suppliers to use.

“Our partnership with Timken® through BSC is one such example where we’ve been able to take that advantage and remain competitive,” he says.

BSC’s Key Account Executive, Duncan McKellar, says Timken® products have been part of BSC’s delivery to Opal Australian Paper almost from the beginning of the collaboration nearly 20 years ago.

“As you can imagine, a large production facility such as the Maryvale mill, has varied requirements for different types of parts and products. Their operations involve drying the wet pulp in large drying machines and a lot of Timken® bearings go into keeping these drying machines working efficiently. Also, pumps, electrical motors and conveyors are some applications where Timken’s bearings are used within the plant,” says McKellar.

“Over the years, the number and types of Timken® products that we supply to Opal Australian Paper has increased. The feedback that we receive from our customer is that they are very satisfied with the Timken® products and that they want to keep re-ordering the products” he adds.

According to Whyte, another reason that Maryvale uses Timken® spherical roller bearings over other products in the market is that the Timken® bearings are designed to provide the optimum level of load carrying capacity.

“The spherical roller bearings used for the pulp and paper industry are typically less heavily loaded that you would find in the mining industry or in a lot of other industries. As a result, this requires different considerations in terms of bearing design,” he explains.

“While each industry has its own considerations in terms of bearing design requirements, manufacturers tend to focus on the bigger market segments and because the mining industry has a much bigger scale in Australia than the pulp and paper industry, finding bearings with the optimum capacity is critical,” he adds.

Apart from supplying the required parts and components, BSC’s product specialists also offer technical advice to Opal Australian Paper’s engineering and supply teams as and when required.

Whyte, himself a tech-savvy engineer with over 42 years of experience in the pulp and paper industry, says he enjoys collaborating with the BSC and Timken® expert teams to resolve technical problems on site.

“The team at BSC has a very solid technical knowledge, they work with us to resolve any technical issues, as and when they come up. That’s very important to us,” he says.

McKellar says BSC’s product specialists are often asked by Opal Australian Paper’s supply chain managers or technical engineers to come up with technical solutions to challenging problems or to suggest alternatives for products already in use.

“Through our knowledge of the best suppliers in the market, as well as our understanding of our customer’s requirements, we are able to offer suitable solutions, ensuring that the collaboration is a win-win for everyone.”

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