Paper manufacturing workers work in paper mills and recycling or recovery plants, producing paper, corrugated board and tissue from wood pulp and recycled materials. There is a range of different roles which include:
Pulp operator – oversees the chemical and mechanical pulping machinery which converts the raw materials (wood and bark) or recycled materials into 'slush' or pulp in preparation for the next stage of the process. Natural binding fibres, contaminants, ink, metals and plastics are broken down or removed from the mixture.
Stock preparation operator – works in the wet end and refining process ensuring consistency in the recovered fibre and provides a continuous supply of pulp to the papermaking machines. Responsibility is also taken for keeping the work area clean and tidy, and the removal of pulp or paper off-cuts.
Dry end operator - operates machinery that dries and sizes the paper. They assist the paper mill and engineering staff in clearing and cleaning the machinery.
Machine operator - supervises both the stock preparation and dry end areas of the process. Ensures that a continuous supply of pulp enters the wet end, and that the operating machines wind the paper onto reels.
Reel scanner/operator - operates the machines that wind paper onto the reels, removing damaged or sub-standard paper and repairing any breaks.
Quality tester - monitors the machines to ensure that they are working correctly, and checks the products to make sure they meet the customer's specifications.
Much of the work is automated and involves working with computerised machinery. Paper manufacturing workers may also work in the storage and dispatch of products from the mill or deal with the management of waste products. They work with technical staff to develop and improve products. Additionally, they work closely with maintenance engineers to ensure the smooth running of the mill.
Most workers will work shifts covering 40 hours a week. This will often include nights and weekends.
Conditions in the preparation and processing plant can be noisy, hot and humid. Some work outdoors in all weathers may be required, such as loading and unloading delivery wagons. Protective clothing is worn.
To be a paper manufacturing worker you should:
Operatives are employed by mills and recovery plants based mainly in the north-west, north-east, Yorkshire, south-east and Scotland.
With further training, it is possible to progress to supervisory, sales, technical or management roles.
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