Boise Cascade Company: Reducing Costs

Background

Boise Cascade Company is a leading pulp and paper company and distributor of lumber and building materials. Established in 1957, the company manufactures plywood, lumber, and newsprint.

In 1991, the company’s mills faced issues while trying to improve the quality of its paper products. Boise Cascade operated under the assumption that better ground wood produced a better quality of pulp. Unable to handle the increasing costs of higher-quality wood, Boise Cascade partnered with QualPro to analyze its pulp manufacturing data and uncover the problems behind the high costs.

Approach

QualPro consultants assembled a team consisting of Boise Cascade’s managers and hourly workers from three departments. Together, the team brainstormed a list of potential improvement ideas designed to lower pulp production costs. Our consultants helped Boise Cascade narrow the list of potential ideas to ones deemed practical, fast, and cost-free.

QualPro consultants designed experiments for the team to perform. These experiments tested the impact of each idea, both individually and in combination with other ideas. Boise Cascade conducted experiments on the wood quality and the pulp quality. The findings surprised the team — there was no connection between wood and pulp quality. The mill could substitute cheap wood for expensive wood without affecting pulp quality. The team also discovered that the wood yard crane picked up more wood than originally believed. Because of this, the wood-purchasing manager was supplying more wood than the mill was supposedly using.

Based on the test results, QualPro consultants created recommendations for Boise Cascade to implement. Our consultants worked closely with operators to guide process changes and motivate project team members to exceed goals.

Results

QualPro consultants recommended that Boise Cascade lower the quality of the wood used to make pulp and adjust its calculations based on how much product the wood crane actually carried. After implementing these recommendations, Boise Cascade achieved an annual savings of at least $1.5 million.