How It’s Made – Paper

“Going Paperless”

We hear it all the time thanks to advancements with technology and electronics. However, paper is still very much an important part of our everyday lives considering it’s many different uses. In fact, it has been an important part of our lives for a LONG time. Many historians conclude that paper was invented in China around 105 BC! As a result, we are highlighting the paper making process for this month’s How It’s Made article.

How It’s Made – Paper

paper manufacturing process 1

Step 1: Log & Cut

First and foremost, trees must be logged and cut. Most trees used for papermaking are fast-growing, evergreen trees. However, due to a heavier focus on renewable resources and environmental impact, many papers are now made from other materials such as cotton, bamboo, hemp, and jute.

At the logging site, cut trees are debarked and made into wood chips by specialized equipment. Check that process out here! Once finished, the large trucks you can see in the video transport the chips to a paper making facility (or papermill).

Step 2: Pulping

Pulping is a process that breaks down the fiber from the wood. Pulping can occur in a variety of ways but there are two main processes: mechanical grinding and chemical pulping. The process used depends upon the type of paper product needed. Chemical pulping is common for containers, paper bags, and writing papers while mechanical pulping is more often performed for newspaper, paper tissues, and paper towels.

  • Pulping Process #1: Chemical Pulping
    • In chemical pulping, you can use either sulfate, sulfite, or soda to pulp the wood chips. The most common method is the sulfate (or kraft) method, in which sodium hydroxide and sodium sulfide are used. This process cooks wood chips with the chemicals in a pressure cooker, causing separation of the wood’s fibers, glue (lignin), and sugars. Once completed, the pulp is considered a slurry which will move onto additional processes including washing, bleaching, and screening for impurities.
  • Pulping Process #2: Mechanical Pulping
    • In mechanical pulping, wood chips are mechanically ground to much smaller, tinier wood chips. There is no cooking or pressure in this process like there is in the chemical pulping process. In this process, a machine with rotating discs breaks up the wood chips and separates the fibers. These smaller, tinier wood chips are then blended with water to create a slurry (just like chemical pulping does). From here, it will be washed, bleached, and screened for impurities.

Step 3: Beating

In this step, the pulp/slurry is pounded, squeezed, and beaten inside a large vat or tub. Filler materials and additives such as chalk, clay, or additional chemicals are also introduced in this stage. These materials and additives affect the paper’s opacity and final qualities. The end purpose of the paper determines what and how much additive is required.

Step 4: Drying

Pulp has a lot of liquid in it which must be removed. In the drying stage, pulp is sprayed onto large mesh screens creating a mat of pulp (or what can be considered water paper). When the wet pulp/paper mats are removed from the screens, they are pushed through a series of presses to squeeze the water out. At this point, about 50% of the water is removed from the mats of pulp. To remove an additional 40-45% of water, the mat is heated and then dried.

Step 5: Rolling

Depending upon the texture of the paper or end use, additional machinery and treatments can occur. However, in general, the dried mat of paper is pushed through a series of very large, industrial rolling machines and wound into rolls of paper. It’s these large rolls of paper that manufacturers further process to create a final product.

To see it live and in action (and also understand the sheer size of the process), check out this paper mill tour video! And, if you’re interested in more of our How It’s Made articles, you can find them on PMG’s Blog, including this one about recycling.


About the Author

Kim M

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach







It’s more than a #; it’s life or death!

According to the National Safety Council, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes each day!  We all know what distractions are behind the wheel. These include talking on the cell phone, texting and touching display screens while driving.  All of these actions take your attention aware from the road and make you less aware of pedestrians and other drivers.

#JustDrive isn’t just for cars and trucks driving the roadways; this message is also for forklift operators delivering the necessary materials to keep your business running!  Employees drive to and from work every day, sometimes after really long shifts or extra hours.  The message to drive attentive is extremely important.

By driving distracted, you are robbing yourself of the precious seconds you may need to avoid a close call or a deadly crash.  Find out more about the three major types of cognitive distractions facing drivers on this fact sheet.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month and there’s no better time to remind drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences of texting behind the wheel and driving distracted.  Take responsibility as a driver and follow these safety tips to avoid driving distractions:

  • If you’re in the driver’s seat, driving is the only thing you should be doing. No distractions!
  • As a passenger, if you see the driver texting or otherwise distracted, tell them to stop and focus on the road.
  • Ask your friends to join you in pledging not to drive distracted. You could save a life. Share your pledge on social media to spread the word — #JustDrive.

Want more safety tips? Check out our post on Window Safety.


About the Author

Brenda L

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager

Window Safety Week

Spring into action to stop window falls!

With the nice weather we’ve been experiencing, hopefully you’ve had the chance to open windows this spring There’s no better time to let in fresh air and learn how to safeguard against window falls.

Window Safety Week is the first full week in April. It raises awareness of the actions parents and homeowners can take to maintain window safety and prevent falls.

Falls from windows are more common than you might think.  According to a report by SafeKids Worldwide,  an average of eight children, age five and younger, die and more than 3,300 are injured every year from falls out of a window.

Window Safety Tips

Follow these tips to help protect the ones you love from accidental window falls:

  • Close and lock windows when young children are around.
  • Use windows high enough to be out of a child’s reach when opening a window for ventilation.
  • Supervise children and ensure they play away from windows, balconies and patio doors.
  • Avoid placing furniture near windows to prevent young children from climbing and gaining access to an open window.
  • Don’t allow children to jump on beds or other furniture.
  • Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a window fall. Insect screens are designed to keep bugs out, not to keep children in the home.

The Window Safety Taskforce has partnered with the National Safety Council to promote greater awareness of window safety this week!  Windows rank as one of the top five hidden hazards in the home. Please practice window safety year-round and share the message with family members to protect the ones you love.

Happy Spring!


Want more safety tips? Check out our post on National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week.


About the Author

Brenda L

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager

CNC Operator Spotlight

Q&A with Arethea G., PMG Machinist

How long have you been working in manufacturing?

I’ve been in manufacturing since 2006.

What drew you to the trade?

I was working in warehousing when my employer went out of business and then I was looking for a new job. I found an ad for a CNC operator position and I’ve been doing that kind of work ever since.

Have you had any formal training?

Nothing formal, just on-the-job training with lots of work shadowing. The hardest thing to learn on my own was how to make fine adjustments to my machine, but I learned. If you pay close attention and ask good questions, you can learn anything.

Before working at PMG, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?

I had a part-time job in a small machine shop running a Hurco and it didn’t have a set fixture. I’d have to set up every part before I ran it again. That might not be that interesting, but it was unusual.

What do you like most about working for PMG?

Being able to travel is my favorite part. You get to go to different places, see different companies and how they work, and meet lots of different people.

What is one thing you miss or wish you had with you while on the road?

Mostly, I just miss time with friends and family. When I was in Texas, on an assignment, I lost my mom and that was hard.

How do you balance your career at PMG and family?

I try to stay in contact as much as possible. I use a lot of phone time and FaceTime.

What are some career lessons you’ve learned thus far?

It’s a good experience to work in the trades and learn different things. You’re always learning as a machinist and when you do project work and travel, you learn even more, even faster.

When you’re not working, what sort of hobbies do you like to do in your free time?

I like to sight-see when I’m off-shift, but COVID restrictions have really reduced that in the last year. I like to ask the locals what’s worth seeing and then I go see it. When I was on my way back to Iowa, for a project, I stopped in St. Louis to see the Gateway Arch and that was cool.

What is something fun you’re looking forward to in 2021?

Not much really. It’s kind of hard to plan things when you don’t know how COVID is going to change them. I guess I’m looking forward to COVID not being such a concern.

How did you first learn about PMG?

I wasn’t happy at the job where I was at and I saw a job posting on Indeed. I didn’t know anything about PMG, but I applied and found out how good of a deal it was. Ten projects later, I’m still here and very happy about that!

What would you say to a young woman that might be considering a career in the trades today?

You can do it and you’ll like it too! Learn as much as you can, go to a trade school, and you’ll find a lot that is more interesting about the trades than you think. And then you’ll have a good career AND an interesting one!

FAQ – W4 vs 1099 Employment

FAQs for PMG

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers. That’s what we do in a nutshell and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. As a result, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. During that process, people outside of PMG ask a fair amount of questions too. This blog provides answers to the questions people ask PMG employees the most.

What is the difference between a 1099 and a W4 employee?

That’s a fantastic question! We often emphasize that our technicians are W4 employees and not 1099 contractors, but what does that actually mean?

The two terms refer to different IRS tax forms that are required to be completed for different “types” of workers that a company might pay over the course of a year. Essentially, 1099 forms are completed for independent contractors and W4 forms are completed for direct-hire, “full-time” employees. You can learn more about which type of employee is better for your company, from a tax standpoint, in this Fundera article. But why would someone pursue one form of employment over the other as a technician?

The Pros of W4 Employment

  • Consistency – You only need to show up for your assigned shift and perform the duties of your task. You don’t have to prospect new clients, sign new contracts, or source more materials to make sure you have a full work shift available to you the next day.
  • Taxes – Employers pay half of Medicare and Social Security costs for an employee as well as covering liability for workers’ comp. This means direct-hire employees save substantially on out-of-pocket tax expenditures when compared to contractors.
  • Benefits – Employer sponsored (and often funded) benefits such as insurance and retirement can also represent substantial savings, or increased overall compensation, for full-time employees when compared to freelancers.

The Pros of 1099 Employment

  • Flexibility – 1099 contractors get to work for themselves and thus determine when, where, and how much they work each day. They also get to determine the focus and growth of their business.
  • Balance – That increased flexibility of work and schedule allows contractors to have more control over their work/life balance. Contractors don’t have to worry about getting time off or late arrival requests approved when they’re the ones who approve them.
  • Independence – Contractors have no career limits. They don’t have to wait for their manager to approve new training or their supervisor to promote them into a position with more responsibility. The 1099 contractor is completely in control of how far, and how fast, their career/business grows.

Additional Resources

If you’d like to learn more about the W-4 form, check out this post on the Who, What, Why Where, and How of the New W-4. If this answered your questions, you can always get other answers from us too. Just send your questions to our Writing Team and keep an eye out for future FAQ’s!


About the Author

Josh E

Josh Erickson, ReTool Public Relations & Engagement Specialist

Poison Prevention Week

Teach don’t touch for poison prevention!


As founder of the Pittsburgh Poison Center and the National Poison Center Network, Dr. Moriarty created Mr. Yuk stickers for parents in the 70’s and 80’s to protect kids from poisons in the home.

Dr. Moriarty felt that the traditional skull and crossbones representing poison were no longer appropriate for children.  The stickers were meant for people to slap on dangerous household products and if it scared you off as kid, that sticker did what it was meant to do.

Child Poisoning Facts

  1. Across the United States, around 800,000 kids are rushed to the emergency room each year because of accidental poisoning. Of these, around 30 children will die, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  2. Around 70% of non-fatal poisonings involve children ages 1 to 2.
  3. Overall, around 24 million people call poison control centers every year. Although most of these accidental poisonings do not turn out to be serious, it illustrates just how common accidental poisonings involving kids actually are.

Even if we don’t see his green face, we need to be sure to teach kids to stay away from chemicals and take time this week to talk about the Poison Help Hotline.

Tips to Prevent Poisonings

Buy products that children can’t open easily. Be aware that child-resistant caps are not risk free. Once a child learns how to open containers with these caps, they will not keep a child safe. A child will only take longer to open them.

Keep medicines, cleaners, and other poisons out of sight. Keep them in cabinets that are locked or in cabinets that children can’t open.

Be careful when using medicines, cleaners, and other poisons. Don’t leave them open when you answer the phone or doorbell. Replace the cap. Take the product with you. Poisonings can happen in just a few seconds.

Always keep products in the containers they came in.

Install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home.

Never take medicine in the dark.

Be careful when taking more than one medicine. Read the labels to avoid an overdose. When taking more than one medicine at a time, make sure it’s safe to take them together.


About the Author

Brenda L

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager

Lunchbox Hack – Edition 9

PMG believes that those who eat better work better. This blog is our effort to improve the American workforce one lunchbox at a time. We want you to feed yourself with something that fuels you better and we have tips, tricks, and recipes to make that possible! If you missed our last lunchbox hack, check it out on our blog page now.


March is the month of many things, but among those things are Read Across America Day and St. Patrick’s Day. We think you should celebrate both together by preparing this easy Green Eggs & Spam recipe for lunch on March 17. We know you’ll be surprised at ‘all the places you will go’ after break time when you’re so well fueled!


If you’re not familiar with Minnesota’s very own canned pork product, SPAM®, learn more by reading our latest How It’s Made blog now. Then, check out these tips for cooking with SPAM® before you ever open a can. Even if you are experienced with the tasty subtleties of SPAM®, take a pro-tip from a lifelong Minnesotan (me) and always remember that the fryer is your (and your taste-buds’) friend!


For the campfire cooks among us, you will be thrilled to learn that SPAM® isn’t just easy to pack for the backcountry. It can actually be cooked in the can to save on cleanup too! Warning: If you’re not familiar with the properties of pressure cooking, read this article on how NOT to cook SPAM® in the can BEFORE attempting. Then, properly vent your can and enjoy a tasty, effortless meal for your next camping trip!


About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

How It’s Made – SPAM


March is the month in which the UK celebrates SPAM Appreciation Week. Although the U.S. doesn’t hold a SPAM appreciation week in March, it is our National Deli Meat Month. Before reading this monthly How It’s Made article on SPAM, check out this link to learn more about National Deli Meat Month.

Let’s start with some interesting facts about SPAM.

  • SPAM is brought to you by the Hormel Foods company which has sold more than 8 BILLION cans since it’s introduction in 1937 (in 44 countries).

Note: Hormel Foods Company was founded in 1891 right here in my home state of Minnesota!

  • Upon creation, SPAM had an easy lead on their competition. Unlike other canned meat products, it did not require refrigeration.
  • The name “SPAM” came from a contest in which the winner received $100.00 for coming up with the name.
  • No one really knows what (or if) SPAM stands for (something) specific.

Is it short for “shoulder of pork and ham”?

Does it stand for “spiced ham”?

  • It was widely used by U.S. troops during World War II. In fact, troops even used it to lubricate their guns and grease their boots.
  • Hormel estimates they sell three cans of it every second!
  • SPAM shows up in 1 of 3 American households.
  • Hawaii and Guam are two of the biggest SPAM consumers in the world, due to the introduction of it during World War II.

The average citizen in Guam consumes 16 cans of it per year.

SPAM is sold at McDonalds in Guam.

  • SPAM is considered a delicacy in South Korea and is often given as a sign of respect during the holidays.

How It’s Made

The creator of SPAM, Jay Hormel, was inspired by a trip to the deli where he saw canned meat being sliced by the butcher. Jay decided Hormel’s next product would be a canned meat. After some trial and error, Jay also determined he could cut out the middle man (a butcher) by selling smaller cans of the meat directly to the consumer, allowing consumers to cut it themselves. This, and the fact that SPAM did not need to be refrigerated unlike other canned meats, was a real game changer for American households!

As a result of its hero status, Minnesotans are proud to call Spam ours, even if others label it a “Mystery Meat”, and we are here today to demystify it.

SPAM Ingredients

  • Ground Pork mixed with Ground Ham
  • Salt
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Sodium Nitrite
  • Potato Starch (an ingredient not used until 2009)

The primary cut of pork used in SPAM is pork shoulder because at the time of creation, it was the most difficult meat to process for other purposes. Sodium Nitrite stops the growth of bacteria which can cause food poisoning and it also creates the pink appearance due a chemical reaction occurring between it and the meat’s protein. In 2009, 72 years after creation, the recipe started including potato starch. This starch acts as a binder and prevents the meat from drying out in a pan.

Manufacturing Process

Now, to take these six simple ingredients and create something as ground breaking as SPAM, we need to do the following:

  1. Hand carve the meat from the bone and grind it up in 8,000-pound batches at very specific temperatures for specific times (about 20 minutes).
  2. Utilize a vacuum mixing machine to super cool the meat to a freezing temperature.
  3. Mix in all other ingredients.
  4. Funnel the mixture into cans then vacuum seal and label the cans.
  5. Cook the cans in hydrostatic cookers (which utilize steam and pressure to heat and cool the meat one last time). These machines can process 33,000 cans every hour!
  6. Package and palletize cans for shipment.

Yes, that’s it. Six ingredients, six steps. It’s all really simple, isn’t it? And really, there’s nothing mysterious about it!

With all that said, if you haven’t tried SPAM, as a proud Minnesotan, I think you should! Grab a can from your grocery or convenience store and give it a go. If you need something to go with it, try some cheese (check out my article on how cheese is made) or simply fry it up in a pan. A quick Google search will give you so many recipes, including SPAM Sushi.

Happy Eating!


About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Is your ladder OSHA SAFE?

March is here and according to the American Ladder Institute, there’s no better time to celebrate National Ladder Safety Month.  Ladders are the tools that take us to new heights and help us reach our highest potential!  We use extension ladders in the garage, step stools in the kitchen and every step up we take, matters for safety.

At construction sites and manufacturing facilities all over the country, ladder safety is paramount!  Falls continue to be a persistent problem and every year over 100 people die in ladder-related accidents while thousands more suffer disabling injuries.

OSHA recommends training employees on how to properly use ladders

  • Choose the right ladder for the job
  • Inspect ladders regularly to ensure they are in good working order
  • Make sure to use a ladder on flat and level ground
  • Secure and position the ladder in the safest location possible
  • Face the ladder at all times when climbing
  • Maintain three points of contact with the ladder at all times and don’t overload it

Don’t risk your safety using rickety ladders!  If you notice any of the following, leave that ladder for the junk pile.

  • Missing or loose rungs or cleats
  • Loose nails, bolts, or screws
  • Wood splinters or damaged ladder edges
  • Cracks, breaks, splits, dents, or wearing
  • Damaged rungs, cleats, or side rails
  • Visible corrosion


Make sure every step you take is a safe one and Happy Ladder Safety Month!

Want more safety tips? Check out our post, Beat the Heat.

About the Author

Brenda Lovitz, Risk & Safety Manager


Industry 4.0

FAQs for PMG

PMG provides labor solutions to American manufacturers. That’s what we do in a nutshell and we take the “solution” part of that equation seriously. As a result, all of us here end up asking a lot of questions to make sure we find the right way to solve the real problem. During that process, we end up getting asked a fair amount of questions ourselves. This blog is our effort to provide answers to the questions PMG employees get asked the most.

What is Industry 4.0?

Great question! Here at PMG, we’re big proponents of the continuous improvement mindset necessary to adapt and adjust to the consistent changes Industry 4.0 requires of manufacturers and fabricators. But what is it, actually? Industry 4.0 refers to the fourth industrial revolution and the rise of digitization and automation in pursuit of “Lights Out Manufacturing”.

Earlier industrial revolutions happened with steam and water power, electricity and assembly lines. Finally, computerization transformed then-standard models for production. This latest revolution is all about the confluence of those previous breakthroughs through use of integration technologies to create interconnected networks of systems that can communicate with each other. Basically, Industry 4.0 is the point where our cyber and digital worlds are meeting in real time and it will impact all disciplines, economies, and industries.

What does it benefit?

Many of you have heard of Industry 4.0 before, but you’ve probably just heard it referred to in terms of robots coming to take your jobs. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

According to a comprehensive study conducted by the Hays Global Skills Index, we’re expecting technology to eliminate close to 75 million jobs in the next decade. That’s a lot, but the same study estimates close to twice as many new jobs (133 million) will be created. Put simply, the robots won’t take your jobs. In fact, they will make them better, easier, and safer.

Read this Bernard Marr article if you’d like to learn more about the benefits, to all industries, of early Industry 4.0 adoption.

What’s next?

In one word, change. That’s why we believe so firmly in the importance of a continuous improvement mindset. Industry 4.0 is not going to eliminate jobs, but it will cause them to change continuously and consistently for the rest of your career. You need to prepare yourself to be able to change your skills and focus right along with them.

Most commonly, technology changes jobs by moving the human element (you) further and further from where material and machine meet. That’s where inefficiencies, injuries, and human errors occur. This means that, as important as your technical skills are and always will be, the five technological skills below are just as important for you (according to a Deloitte study) to master in the future. These abilities will be necessary for you to be able to continue to apply your technical skills to your job as your trade or facility is disrupted throughout Industry 4.0.

  • Technology & Computer Skills
  • Programming Skills for Robotics & Automation
  • Critical Thinking
  • Working with Tools & Techniques
  • Digital Skills

Additional Resources

If you’d like to learn more about Industry 4.0, or how to prepare your career for it, watch our free webinar Manufacturing in the Future: The Changes Yet to Come.

Did you find this informative? Send your questions to our Writing Team and keep an eye out for future FAQ’s for answers!


Want more FAQ? Check out our post on Supply Chain.

About the Author

Head shot of Josh Erickson

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate