22.12.2023

Leading Innovation for a Greener Tomorrow

Interview with Dan Savu, Project Manager of SC ROM PAPER SA’s Environmental Impact Project

 

Hello and welcome to this special interview with Mr. Dan Savu, the Project Manager for the outstanding initiative titled “Highly Innovative Solution for Reducing Paper Waste and Creating a Positive Impact on the Environment.” The project, registered under the number 2021/331003, is successfully being carried out by SC ROM PAPER SA and is set to be completed by the approved deadline of January 31, 2024.

This project, centered around the acquisition of three key pieces of equipment, has been carefully designed to bring significant improvements in paper waste reduction and contribute to environmental protection.

Today, we will be discussing with Mr. Dan Savu the project details, achievements thus far, and the expected positive impact, including a projected 36% increase in estimated turnover and a reduction of 20.2 tons of CO2 emissions per year. So, let’s delve into this conversation to better understand how this project is becoming a model of excellence in innovation and sustainability.

Introduction and Background

Question. Can you provide an overview of your company and its core activities before receiving the non-reimbursable funds?

Answer. ROM PAPER SRL was founded in 2002 and is a private company with Romanian capital, currently becoming one of the most important producers of tissue paper products in Romania.

In 2016, we drew the attention of the Vrancart SA group, which acquired the majority of our company’s shares, and at the end of 2017 it became the sole shareholder in the company. Following the transaction, an extensive investment program was launched which aimed to modernize production capacities, equipment and locations.

Our company’s main activity is the production and sale of hygienic-sanitary paper. We offer complete range of classic but sophisticated products with high quality. Our product range covers all product categories such as napkins, facial tissues in box, folded towels for dispenser, professional toilet paper and towels, cosmetic towels and kitchen towels on top of which we recently introduced disinfectants, both for hands as well as for surfaces. A great advantage of our company is the fact that we have the largest production capacity for folded products in Romania.

The main objectives of the company are to ensure a sustainable business development through the purchase of high-performance and innovative equipment and continuous process improvement. Another great advantage of our company is the superior quality of the products produced and offered to our customer, quality not only certified by various quality standards but also recognized by our customers who assured us long term contracts. We also use raw materials from controlled sources and strictly follow the technical specifications, procedures and good manufacturing practices.

Project Initiation

Question. What specific challenges or negative impacts was your company facing that led to the decision to seek funding for this project?

Answer. The main challenges that we must face are consisting of the effects of the globalization. By destroying the borders and making it possible to send and to receive products to and from all over the world, this worldwide process leaves only one way of dealing with it and that being to keep up with the new technologies and new specific equipment. This is a difficult task to perform due to the financial challenges that come with the purchase of machineries for the increase of the technical and technological capabilities, optimize the production costs, increase the quality of the products.

In recent years the paper industry has moved in new directions, both as a response to a change in demand and as part of a greater focus on climate and environment. Paper converting is energy thirsty, and manufacturers are extremely interested in reducing their energy consumption and environmental impact by using more effective applications.

Question. How did you identify the need for acquiring new equipment to address these challenges?

Answer. The project goal is Introducing a new highly innovative production line what will allow us to collect around 200 tons/year paper waste during the production process, resulting in a greener production process and creating a positive impact to the environment.

The new production lines will enable us to produce new products that would impact the environment less, by reducing the paper basis grammage of the final product which was not possible with the existing technology that we have. This means less quantity of paper in the same number of products introduced in the market. In addition to that we will be able to eliminate PE usage from our final product and use more carton boxes in production, a truly green product that would be an important positive impact on the environment.

Also, being able use recycled tissue paper and carton boxes in production, we will be able to realize a new palette of products, creating a positive impact to the environment

Funding Application Process

Question. Can you share your experience with the application process for EEA & Norway Grants? Were there any notable challenges or successes?

Answer. Being an extremely innovative and new component for us, the expertise and professionalism of the EEA & Norway Grants representatives were of great benefit to us, so that the application process and all actions related to accessing the grant went well. We benefited from support both in the stage of applying for the grant, as well as in the subsequent stages of project implementation.

Question. What documentation and information were crucial in securing the non-reimbursable funds?

Answer. We cannot say that there was any information or document more important than the others. All the information, from the financial information to the technical offers and the specific documentation for public auctions, had their role and significance in the development of the project. Communication with the program operator on the one hand, as well as with equipment suppliers on the other, had its importance and proved to be of real use.

Equipment Acquisition

Question. What types of equipment were acquired with the funds, and how do they contribute to reducing the negative impact of your company?

Answer. The new production lines would have a much greener process as compared to the existing ones. It will enable us to reduce the production waste due to the technology that provides a higher precision, such as jammed paper, box etc. In addition to that by reducing 4 existing lines to 2 with much higher performance we will be able to reduce the maintenance related problems; fewer spare parts to be replaced, such as filters, oil, ball bearings etc. These two lines will need fewer vacuum pumps which again will help us to improve the maintenance costs and efficiency, resulting in a greener production process. Finally, as the new production lines include automatic case packing the consumption of adhesive band will be reduced significantly, a process which is being performed manually at this moment without a precise control over the consumption per unit production.

Our project includes also a robotized unit that would form the pallet according to pre-established standards and a fully automated conveyor that would receive each pallet and will automatically apply stretch on it while introducing it also automatically in the warehouse as already prepared to be sold at that very moment. The latter two components of the project will also help us to reduce the waste of cardboard, adhesive tape and stretch foil, creating an exceptionally good control of the consumption of these materials and resulting in an important positive impact on the environment.

Question. Were there any specific criteria or considerations in choosing the equipment?

Answer. The criteria used for choosing the equipment were, on the one hand, those related to performance and capacities, and on the other hand those related to efficiency and environmentally friendly technologies. In fact, the whole project was designed for the development of green products and for the development and implementation of “greener production processes”.

Project Implementation

Question. How did you manage the implementation of the project, including any unexpected challenges and how they were addressed?

Answer. In general, the development of the project took place according to the forecasts and initial plans. There were also some unexpected challenges, the most important of which was due to the chip crisis, which led to increased delivery times for certain equipment components.

But, with the support of the Norway Grant operators, these obstacles were overcome and the project could be completed under good conditions.

Question. Were there any collaborations or partnerships formed during the project?

Answer. During the implementation of the project, real collaborations and partnerships were established with equipment suppliers, partnerships that extended beyond this project, targeting other activities of our company.

Impact on Operations

Question. Can you quantify or describe the impact the acquired equipment has had on your company’s day-to-day operations?

Answer. Any new technology, especially if it is in the top area of the field and if it also comes with a high degree of automation, automatically leaves its mark on the activity of any company. The efficiency of the machines, the high degree of automation, the superior capacities and speeds influence the entire activity of the company, leading to the remodeling and streamlining of the processes and flows of the company.

Question. Have there been any notable improvements in efficiency, sustainability, or other relevant areas?

Answer. Besides the efficiency and durability ensured by the new technology adopted, another relevant field that has undergone real improvement is that of the quality of products and processes. High technology, full automation, technological elements dedicated especially to quality assurance have added new quality attributes to our products and processes so that we can face the existing challenges of the profiles.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Question. How did you monitor and evaluate the progress of the project? Were there any key performance indicators (KPIs) in place?

Answer. Since it is an investment project, the main activities were represented, on the one hand, by the contracting part and on the other hand by the construction and assembly stages. Technical criteria were defined, minimum characteristics were established, the fulfillment of the indicators established both by the tender documents and by the bilateral contracts were permanently measured. FAT and SAT were carried out for each component of the project, and acceptance protocols were prepared that contained KPIs established from the contracting phase.

Question. What were the main milestones achieved during the project?

Answer. Throughout the implementation of the project, there have been many milestones reached, represented by the receipt of the first production line, the first rotation of the palletizing robot, the first bale of pressed waste, the first box of packed napkins, the first collective box, reaching the maximum parameters, etc.

Results and Benefits

Question. What positive outcomes or benefits have you observed as a result of the project and the acquired equipment?

Answer. Following the implementation of the project and the installation of the purchased equipment, a series of positive results resulted, starting with the excellent quality of the products and continuing with the increased production capacity, the lower specific consumption. Last but not least, process automation has a great advantage in terms of product hygiene.

Question. How have these results contributed to the overall goals of your company?

Answer. Following the implementation of the project and the installation of the purchased equipment, a series of positive results resulted, starting with the excellent quality of the products and continuing with the increased production capacity, the lower specific consumption. Last but not least, process automation has a great advantage in terms of product hygiene.

Also, the fact that the raw material calendaring process is carried out on the newly purchased machines has allowed us greater freedom on the part of raw material acquisition, widening the selection base of suppliers, with the reduction of raw material acquisition costs.

Recommendations for Future Applicants

Question. Based on your experience, would you recommend other companies to apply for non-reimbursable funds through EEA & Norway Grants? Why or why not?

Answer. Non-reimbursable funds through EEA & Norway Grants represented a great opportunity for our company. With their help, we managed to bring this investment project to a successful conclusion, allowing the purchase of top equipment in the industry, with low energy consumption. We strongly recommend to all those who have in their future plans the implementation of investment projects to turn to EEA & Norway Grants with confidence.

Question. Are there any lessons learned or best practices you would share with other potential beneficiaries?

Answer. Any new investment project carried out and carried out to the end represents an opportunity to learn and accumulate new knowledge and experiences. We believe that the most important lesson is that of the importance of information and communication, both with the program operators and with the suppliers and all the entities involved in the project.

Sustainability and Long-term Impact

Question. How do you plan to sustain the positive impact of the project in the long term?

Answer. The investment project has a major impact on the company’s medium and short term strategy. The increased capacities, the special quality of the products, the top technology and the automation of the processors open up a lot of opportunities both on the marketing and sales side and for other unexplored markets so far.

This investment project with EEA & Norway Grants is part of the company’s development strategy, which also includes other similar projects, from the acquisition of other production equipment to expand the portfolio, to the modernization of logistics flows.

Question. Have there been any unexpected positive outcomes or side benefits that you didn’t initially anticipate?

Answer. An investment project of such scope induces a series of major changes in the entire organization, bringing a series of advantages at all levels of the organization. Many of these were not taken into account at the start of the project, but they are a natural consequence. Among them we list: optimization of the main flows of the organization, simplification of the way of ensuring hygiene and work discipline, reduction of the unit cost with the labor force, etc.

Thank you!