Paper technologists work in the paper mill and are involved in the design and trials of equipment and processes used in the manufacturing cycle of paper, tissue and corrugated board. Raw materials such as waste paper, wood pulp or, less commonly, plant-based fibres are turned into paper and board, and used to make anything from high-quality art paper to cartons and newspapers.
Technologists also monitor and evaluate quality control results on materials to ensure they meet client specifications, for instance correct colour and finish. Chemicals, additives and other factors which affect the process, such as liquid temperatures and pressures are also monitored and adjusted by technologists.
Finished products are checked to ensure they comply with industry regulations and customer requirements.
Other tasks include coordinating trials of new products and resolving customers’ technical problems. They also interpret results from the laboratory and write technical reports. Some technologists are responsible for production management.
Most paper technologists work shifts covering 40 hours a week. This often includes nights and weekends. At senior levels they may work 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday. However, they are often required to be on-call to attend the paper mill in case of problems.
Paper technologists usually divide their time between the office and production areas of the mill. Conditions in some parts of the mill may be hot, humid and noisy. Protective clothing is required for laboratory or factory floor work.
To be a paper technologist you should:
Paper technologists are employed by paper mills and by firms which supply chemicals and machinery to the mills. There are also some research posts in academic institutions, and positions abroad.
Promotion prospects in the paper industry are limited, because there are relatively few technologists. Career advancement may mean moving to another firm and taking on responsibility for project management or specialist research. Some technologists move from the mills to suppliers and vice versa.
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