Date of Award

2004

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Forest Resources

Advisor

Robert W. Rice

Second Committee Member

Andrew F. Egan

Third Committee Member

David B. Field

Abstract

Raw material inventory management is an area of concern for many pulp and paper companies in the Northeastern United States, and procurement managers for pulp mills are frequently faced with difficult decisions related to their wood fiber inventory levels. The objectives of this study were to understand how a mill's demand for pulp is established, to discern the external factors affecting raw material procurement decisions, and to develop an understanding of how these factors influence the inventory levels at 15 Northeastern U.S. kraft and groundwood pulp mills. The factors affecting the demand for pulp and the supply of pulpwood were gathered using onsite interviews and a mailed survey instrument. The interview was primarily used to gain an understanding of the raw material procurement process. The questions centered on pulp production estimate determinates and the demand for raw material. In addition, data were collected showing typical inventory levels of wood fiber along with each mill's pulp furnish used in their pulp for the manufacture of paper. According to respondents, the top five factors that influenced inventory decisions were the demand for papers, the availability of wood, the weather, the cost of wood, and the form and length of supplier contracts. As expected, the factors were correlated. Four inventory level patterns were discerned from the data provided by respondents. Three of the four inventory patterns peaked in March due to timber availability issues caused by wet weather in the spring and were typical in Maine. The fourth inventory pattern peaked in November and was typical of mills south of Maine. Weather was the only factor that clearly influenced the shape of the inventory level patterns. Other factors including the cost of wood, mill competition, and wood availability were reflected in at least two of the four inventory patterns.

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