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NOC Code: NOC Code: 9432 Occupation: Pulp mill machine operators
Occupation Description: Occupation Description:
Pulp mill machine operators operate and monitor various types of processing machinery and equipment to produce pulp. They are employed by pulp and paper companies. Pulp mill machine operators operate and monitor various types of processing machinery and equipment to produce pulp. They are employed by pulp and paper companies.

  • Click on any of the Essential Skills to view sample workplace tasks for this occupation.
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Table will display the Skill Level for the Noc specified
Essential Skills Essential Skills Levels
Reading Reading 1 2 3
Writing Writing 1 2
Document Use Document Use 1 2 3 4
Digital Technology Digital Technology 1 2
Oral Communication Oral Communication 1 2
Measurement and Calculation Measurement and Calculation 1 2 3
Data Analysis Data Analysis 1 2 3
Numerical Estimation Numerical Estimation 1 2 3
Job Task Planning and Organizing Job Task Planning and Organizing 1 2
Decision Making Decision Making 1 2 3
Problem Solving Problem Solving 1 2 3
Finding Information Finding Information 1 2

  • The skill levels represented in the above chart illustrate the full range of sample tasks performed by experienced workers and not individuals preparing for or entering this occupation for the first time.
  • Note that some occupational profiles do not include all Numeracy and Thinking Essential Skills.

If you would like to print a copy of the chart and sample tasks, click on the "Print Occupational Profile" button at the top of the page.

  • Read permits for maintenance and lockout to know what equipment will be unavailable for use. (1)
  • Look up recipes for pulp in a manual. (2)
  • Read memos explaining operating procedures and specifications for special custom orders. (2)
  • Read pulp test result reports. (2)
  • Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for safety information on various chemicals used in the processing or to learn safety procedures, such as what to do in the case of a spill. (3)
  • Read technical manuals and textbooks to learn about the pulping process, equipment and control systems. (3)
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  • Record testing results on a form, writing codes, figures and short descriptions of any problems. (1)
  • Write a memo to the area supervisor explaining what procedures or equipment need attention. (2)
  • Write entries in a logbook leaving instructions for the next shift and describing problems experienced and their solutions and reasons for shutdowns. The entries may be up to a page long. (2)
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Document Use
  • Read safety signs in the plant. (1)
  • Read identification labels on the hundreds of pipes, pumps, tanks and valves in the plant. (1)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHIMIS) labels on chemicals. (2)
  • Read order specifications for the day which may be written on a board. The information is in chart form, including target grade, shine, tonnage to produce and comments. (2)
  • Refer to a list of over 20 types of equipment rotations, such as "chip meter: clockwise, viewed from drive end". (2)
  • Enter data hourly on production report forms to record about 50 columns of information about production status, including times, tank numbers, stock volumes and flow rates, valve opening percentages and pH levels. (3)
  • Read and complete a safety lockout procedure form that lists over 50 steps to be performed and checked off. (3)
  • Use a blueprint of the whole plant to locate equipment, such as a specific valve. Operators need to know the function of the valve and where in the process it is used in order to pinpoint where it is likely to be on a blueprint that shows hundreds of pieces of equipment. (4)
  • Continuously monitor computer screens displaying schematic and analog representations of various sections of the pulping process. The displays include diagrams, graphs and charts. Operators analyze numerous screens of information about processing rates, levels, ratios, percentages and trends and adjust the process using keyboard controls or via workers on the floor. (4)
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Digital Technology
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacture or machining. For example, operate a computerized control system specific to the industry to analyze and control the pulping process. This involves continuously monitoring numerous screens of data and entering adjustments to the many factors in the pulping process. (2)
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Oral Communication
  • Work in a control room and stay in contact with the plant floor by communicating with floor workers who act as "hands and eyes". For example, operators get first hand feedback from floor workers about equipment function and levels to check if computer readings are accurate, instruct floor workers to open or close valves when troubleshooting and alert them to changes about to take place, such as swinging from one knotter to another. (1)
  • Discuss processing adjustments with operators who control other stages of the process, to co-ordinate adjustments for maximum efficiency and quality and to ensure you don't adversely affect each other's work. The process is continuous so the actions of any one operator could shut the others down. (2)
  • Interact with lab technicians to receive test results and ask for clarification and explanation to know how best to make adjustments. (2)
  • Discuss mechanical problems with millwrights or electricians. (2)
  • Communicate with supervisors to receive instructions about production targets, procedures and shutdown schedules and to discuss equipment and processing problems. (2)
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Measurement and Calculation
  • Weigh rolls of paper using a scale. (1)
  • Constantly take process readings, such as stock volume and flow rate, pH levels, valve opening percentages, temperatures and pressures, to check if they are according to expected levels and order specifications. (1)
  • Read the levels of stock in two tanks to ensure there is sufficient volume in each; if there is a discrepancy, calculate how much to divert to one of the tanks, making sure the tanks don't overflow. (2)
  • Measure and mix pulp samples and test chemicals, and use a table and calculation formula to conduct titration tests. (2)
  • Check the computer data and occasionally correct errors. Use a calculator and formulae to calculate correct chemical flows, stock consistency and energy use to verify information from the computer. (3)
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Data Analysis
  • Look at line and bar graphs that show relationships of various production data and trends over time. The data includes pH levels, tonnage per shift minus downtime and comparison of the production level with target figures. (3)
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Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate how the composition of pulp will change when one factor is changed. (1)
  • Estimate how long it will take a certain volume of stock to move through the system or how long it will take the system to become corrected after an error. (2)
  • Estimate how much to adjust the process based on information about numerous rates and levels, what other operators are doing and test analysis results of the finished product. For example, estimate the gallons per minute of shower flow needed to bring down soda loss numbers. (3)
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Job Task Planning and Organizing
  • Pulp mill machine operators work independently following procedures to operate their stage of the pulping process according to production schedules and rates set by supervisors. Their tasks are varied and complex, but largely repetitive and dictated by the processing system as a whole. They may have to plan hours ahead what treatments to use and what equipment to activate. Their day can vary from dull and predictable, to pandemonium when a problem develops. (2)
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Decision Making
  • Decide what part of the process to start running first when coming off of a maintenance shutdown. Operators generally follow set procedures, but must also consider variables such as the status of the stock at that moment. (1)
  • Decide whether it is necessary to go down to the floor to deal with a problem, or to stay at the computer controls and direct the workers on the floor from the control room. Consider the urgency of the problem, where floor workers are at that moment and what other adjustments you need to make by computer. (2)
  • Decide how much bleach to add for a grade change. Consider what residuals are currently in the system and look at records of previous production of similar grades. Too little bleach might result in off-grade brown pulp; too much might exceed environmental limits. (2)
  • Constantly decide how to adjust levels and rates to maximize production and not create a problem. For example, decide if there is enough stock to slow down or speed up the processing without losing quality or causing an overflow. (2)
  • Decide whether to shut down the process in order to avoid spoiling the pulp or damaging equipment. Shutdowns are costly and time-consuming. (3)
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Problem Solving
  • A power outage has occurred that shuts the automated system down. Operate manually until the automated system is revived. (1)
  • Equipment malfunctions have occurred, such as a tank not emptying at the required rate. Troubleshoot, analyze possible causes, consult with maintenance staff and slow down the rest of the operation in order to prevent an overflow or shutdown. (2)
  • When working on the plant floor, it is evident that the pulp volume in a tank is too high or low. Discuss the problem with processing operators in the control room, check for possible causes and try various manual adjustments. Check whether pump rpm levels are high, if there is a broken coupling on a shaft or if there is a plug in the line. (2)
  • There are false readings on the computer. For example, readings may indicate that stock consistency is fine, but in fact it is too thick and won't go through the pumps and pipes. Analyze likely causes, direct workers on the floor to visually check equipment, make trial adjustments and discuss the problem with the supervisor. (2)
  • The production process is not maximizing tonnage or quality. Analyze and adjust numerous factors, including valve openings, tank volumes, fluid flow rates, chemical ratios, temperatures and pressures. The process is fast and continuous; a problem in one stage affects other stages and can result in tons of off-grade product before it can be corrected. (3)
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Finding Information
  • Refer to technical manuals or equipment manuals to look up a pulp recipe. (1)
  • Call a process engineer or millwright to ask questions about equipment, such as what lubrication is suitable for use under certain temperatures or what modifications have been made to equipment. (1)
  • Read technical manuals or equipment manuals to troubleshoot machine malfunctions. (1)
  • Look up records from past years to find data about amounts of chemicals used to produce a specific type and grade of pulp. (2)
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