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Case Study: Early Fire Prevention in Saw Mill

After a fire caused a sawmill shutdown, a large pulp and paper manufacturer partnered with ICI
to implement an early fire detection and asset monitoring system. The manufacturer had issues with
critical assets, contributing to millions in avoidable costs from unplanned downtime and lost production. ICI provided thermal imaging cameras and AI-driven software, SmartIR, for 24/7 monitoring of critical assets and processes, reducing asset failures by 62% in the first year. This saved the client around $550,000 in unplanned downtime costs.

The Industry

Leading paper manufacturers rely on ICI’s SmartIR Platform for early fire detection and improved asset reliability. SmartIR identifies overheating equipment and flammable materials in their earliest stages, allowing for timely intervention and preventing fires. It also identifies problematic equipment before failure, enabling maintenance teams to address issues during scheduled maintenance hours. ICI’s clients have experienced decreased insurance premiums and safety incidents, increased production uptime, and reduced maintenance and material costs. SmartIR users typically see a 300% return on investment in the first year of use. Common applications in pulp and paper manufacturing include:
early fire detection throughout the facility and manufacturing process; electrical asset monitoring such as breakers, fuses and connectors; and monitoring mechanical assets such as motors, pumps, blades and conveyance systems.

The Challenge

A US pulp and paper manufacturer had a sawmill fire without an early detection system, causing $3.42 million in damages, lost inventory, administrative costs, and lost production. The company
also had reliability issues with critical assets, with an average of $1.1 million in avoidable costs yearly due to unplanned downtime and lost production. This was because of a calendar-based inspection
process that missed failing equipment leading to multiple critical asset failures each quarter.

ICI's Solution

After consulting with the client, ICI installed 14 premier thermal imaging cameras, the FMX 400, combined with ICI’s SmartIR software. By using the cameras’ wide field of view, ICI covered between 3 and 8 areas of interest per camera, limiting costs while ensuring complete coverage. SmartIR provided 24/7 monitoring of critical assets and high-risk locations within the facility. It was integrated into the client’s existing fire suppression system, sending immediate automated alerts to
ensure quick intervention for potential issues. The client’s reliability team also used SmartIR to monitor critical mechanical assets for maintenance needs. The solution allowed the customer to access live video feeds worldwide, receive instant alerts, and store data for improved safety and standard operating procedures.

The Results

SmartIR’s early fire detection decreased insurance premiums by 15% and prevented fire. It also reduced asset failures by 62% in the first year, saving nearly $550,000 in downtime costs. The client estimated a 4.64X ROI on fire prevention and 11.4x ROI on asset reliability in the first year. They
are implementing SmartIR in their southern US sites after sharing these results internally.

Learn more about ICI's SmartIR solution for distribution facilities or schedule a demo today.


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