Capital Argument$

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Published on the 15th of every month
April  2014
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I have yet to see a procurement contract for equipment that can not be set up with milestone payments.  

And that is saying something--I have been looking at contracts for over forty years.

Naturally, the supplier is going to try to talk you into calendar based payments, and I would, too, if I were your supplier. But, don't listen to them.  If it involves physical materials, or even computer programming, you can establish a payment schedule based on tasks accomplished.

Many a contracting mill has been sorely disappointed by not taking the time to establish such a payment schedule.  It is easy to avoid doing it--the suppliers' sales people are so nice and they promise you the moon.  Additionally, sometimes it takes a bit of creativity to get milestones right.

But don't miss this step.  It can save your career.

What is your opinion?  Drop me a line at  I would like to hear from you.


Feedback from last month's topic:



Boy, have you hit a sore spot!  I don't work for a mill (used to many, many moon ago) but see this problem all too often.


It is a double edged sword...where will you start if you don't have any experience but how do you get the experience?  I am a staunch supporter of an apprenticeship program, even for project/process/design engineers.  You come out of school with (hopefully) a good book education but the real world is a different ball of wax.  Before you can be turned loose on a project of your own, you need to be shown the ropes by an experienced engineer and preferably by some "field time" in your chosen field of work.


In my business, you get hot-shot young engineers that come out of school and want to be equipment designers which is fine but you need some good real world experience under your belt before you are allowed to design equipment.  Go to the workshop where they are building the machine, go to the field and participate in the final erection/commissioning/start-up of the plant, go back to the mill and participate in the annual shutdown where they tear it down and repair it.  Then and only then will you have the insight into the issues with manufacturing, installation and maintenance that will make you a good designer.


The same applies for project engineering.  Anybody with a good education can make calculations but to have the background to know what to look for (are all of the components specified, do the pipes slope where necessary, are the instruments installed in the right places, etc.) will you be able to effectively carry out your job, be it a project engineer, process engineer or project manager.


I think that we have made a big mistake when we moved away from the days of putting a young engineer under the guidance of an older, experienced engineer for their first few projects.  Now, we hire inexperienced engineers and expect them to hit the ground running and not make any mistakes...sorry but it ain't going to happen (except in very rare cases).  I also am a firm believer in the co-op program at school.  I participated in this system and it provided invaluable experience for me upon my graduation as I was able to see the real world applications of what I was being taught in school, while I was in school.


I could go on and on but I think you get my point!


Stay safe,

Robert J. Diaz 


Current Patent Activity is available here.

Capital Arguments Engineering Manager of the Year
Hall of Fame

CA LogoSince its inception, Capital Arguments has believed extraordinary projects are possible.  They can be done safely, responsibly and offer a great advantage to their mills with lower capital costs and saved downtime. We established this award in 2008 to recognize those people and companies that follow this philosophy. This award is given once per year somewhere in the world.  We honor our inductees permanently here.


Ed Kersey--Engineering Manager of the Year 2011

Jim presents Ed with the Engineering Manager of the Year for 2011.  (L - R) Matt Nilsen, Jim Thompson, Ed Kersey and Wayne South.  Nilsen is Account Manager and South is Business Development Manager for Kadant Black Clawson, underwriter of this year's award.  Ed Managed the construction of Pratt Industries Mill in Shreveport, Lousiana which took 13 months from piling to paper on the reel.  His reward?  they made him mill manager!

Peter Flynn and Steve Roush

Kadant Black Clawson was a major sponsor of the 2011 Award.  Here, on the left,  Peter Flynn, President of Kadant Black Clawson, receives the company's duplicate of Ed's Award from Steve Roush, Publisher and Editor, Paperitalo Publications. 

Not Awarded 2010

You have to be really good to get this award.  We did not receive any qualified nominees in 2010.


Dean Abrams--Engineering Manager of the Year 2009

Now retired, Dean was an engineer at Corrugated Services, Forney, Texas, USA in the summer of 2009 when he completed his award winning project.  Dean managed a team that installed a secondary headbox in 11 hours, 30 minutes, paper-to-paper.  The experts had said it would take at least 3 days.  In April 2010, we presented the award to Dean in the presence of a number of his colleagues.

Dean Abrams Award 
Here is the award we presented to Dean:

Deans Plaque


Mike Ahcan--Engineering Manager of the Year 2008

Mike works at the UPM Blandin Mill in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, USA. In 2008, the mill's sole effluent pipe, running outside a building, almost in the Mississippi River, was determined to be in a state of imminent collapse.  The experts said it would take a week of total mill downtime to replace it.  Additionally, there was a danger of leakage into the river.  Mike and his team went to work and replaced the pipe without any downtime and with no spillage.  We had a banquet in Grand Rapids for him in July 2009.

OpTest Official Solid Background

And here is Mike's award:

OpTest Official Solid Background

We normally accept nominations in the November-December time frame.  They can be sent to with "EMOY Nomination" in the subject line. 

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Process Labs 8th year

Phila Mixing 2012

2nd Bright Button

Essco 2012


LGMI Design Practices 162
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Master Series Coating



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