Warren DeBay from Ahlstrom’s Rhinelander Plant Receives Innovator of the Year Award

Warren DeBay from Ahlstrom’s Rhinelander Plant Receives Innovator of the Year Award

Warren DeBay, Maintenance Reliability Engineer at our Rhinelander plant, was honored with the prestigious "Innovator of the Year Award” by KCF Technologies during their Manufacturing the Future event.  

Recognizing Excellence in Innovation

The "Innovator of the Year Award" acknowledges individuals who challenge conventional thinking, inspire their peers, and introduce groundbreaking technologies that catalyze meaningful change. Jeremy Frank, CEO & Co-founder of KCF Technologies, highlighted Warren’s significant achievements, stating, “Warren’s work at the Rhinelander plant demonstrates a significant push to driving value at scale and measuring success that not only affects his work but drives safety for employees, reduces downtime, and decreases industrial waste.”

Pioneering Predictive Maintenance

Warren is leading the charge in predictive maintenance at the Rhinelander mill. His expertise in detecting not only obvious wear and tear but also operational anomalies has significantly extended the health of our equipment. Utilizing an array of KCF Technologies' tools—including pressure sensors, ultrasound sensors, Piezo sensing modules, temperature and speed-binning models, and real-time speed integration via PLC data— Warren continues to collaborate with KCF Technologies for feature requests in KCF’s SMARTdiagnostics Software, hardware improvements, and monitoring complex assets such as transformers, hydro generators, low-speed applications, and lubrication systems.

Notable Achievements at the Rhinelander Mill

“By leveraging KCF’s hardware and software technology, Warren has gained insights into multiple machine behaviors that optimize reliability and performance,” said TJ Rees, Ahlstrom Central Reliability Manager. “Understanding our equipment allows us to detect potential issues and determine severity while minimizing downtimes and maximizing efficiencies. Warren’s pioneering approach of blending technologies encompassing vibration, pressure, temperature, speed, real-time integration of PLC data and more has significantly improved our Rhinelander, Wisconsin operations.” Rees continued.

Warren’s innovative efforts have led to several groundbreaking achievements, including:

  • The Rhinelander mill being the first Ahlstrom site to partner with KCF Technologies.
  • The deployment of new Piezo Sensing units on our paper machines.
  • Becoming the first industry-wide KCF Partner to use ultrasound sensors for monitoring aging transformers.
  • Using pressure sensors to track our critical lubrication systems.
  • Implementing KCF speed-binning models to better predict equipment failures based on varying product and run rates.

KCF’s technology was demonstrated in two recent incidents at the plant. On separate occasions, it detected an overheating fan pump and identified increased temperature in a transformer’s windings were discovered. In both cases, early detection allowed the team to address the issues proactively, preventing potential damage.

Warren’s dedication and innovative spirit reflect Ahlstrom's commitment to excellence and the transformative power of technology in the manufacturing sector.