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Local Story

Greif Riverville: A Long History of Capex and Innovation

More park-like than industrial

Nestled in a lush valley along the James River sits the Riverville Mill. This is no run-of-the-mill, paper mill – Greif Riverville is a modern city of papermaking on a sprawling park-like 1500 acres.

The history here runs deeper than the water of the James River does far, but don’t let that fool you. Every year, Greif invests large sums to enhance the Riverville mill, ensuring it remains a gold standard for industrial paper production.

At least once a year, the big machines stop roaring, and the mill’s dedicated maintenance team gets to work.

During the 2023 annual outage, total repairs, maintenance, and capital improvements surpassed $11.4M. An astounding 450 contractors were on site to assist in the mill’s planned improvements. It was as much a feat of coordination as it was one of engineering improvements for the mill.

The 2023 annual outage included ten significant projects that were completed

Paper machine #1 received a carefully orchestrated headbox upgrade, enhancing reliability and uptime.

The digester underwent a rebuild, improving the operation and reducing costs.

Felt cleaner installation helps to minimize defects in the sheet and dryer breaks from debris buildup.

The combination fuel boiler rebuild included a new electrostatic precipitator with a modern design to improve recovery boiler emissions and an upgraded boiler unit to fire 30,000#/hour more steam from bark and other biomass versus natural gas.

TIMELAPSE: Riverville reel and winder replacement

Watch a detailed and comprehensive replacement of Riverville’s PM1 reel and winder in just a few minutes. 

Recent Improvements at Greif Riverville


New Winder on PM1 (with Reel upgrade)

  • Ability to run the winder over 8000 FPM, improved safety and controls, and more automated in the process

Reel Upgrade (2019) 

  • Reduce Waste – increased production by 14.8 tons per day, more automation with better controls

Dryer Doctors (2022) 

  • Reduce sheet contamination, reduce breaks on machine by 12 per month

Dryer Felt Cleaning Showers (June 2023) 

  • Improved cross-direction and machine-direction moisture profiles, reduced sheet contaminants

High-Speed Camera Upgrade (Fall 2022) 

  • Improved sheet break detection that reduces downtime by allowing operators to pinpoint the source of downtime

Headbox Upgrade (April 2023)

  • Replacement to allow the machine to run at higher speeds
  • improved cross-machine direction basis weight profiles

Dock Guardian Barriers (2023) 

  • Improve safety at loading docks


PM2 Ribbon Roll System Upgrade (2022) 

  • Installed the ability to manufacture and ship ribbon rolls

Distributed Control System Upgrade

  • Better communications equipment allows for more effective control of systems (April 2023)

Infrastructure maintenance

  • Crane Painting, building steel (Joe has pictures)

FUTURE-PM2 Drives Winder Conversion

  • Replace obsolete equipment, improved speed controls (2024) 

FUTURE-PM2 Drives Upgrade

  • Top and Bottom Ply Fan Pumps Replace obsolete equipment, improve speed controls (2025) 


Steam Drum Dryer Upgrade

  • Allow the Boiler to steam at a higher rate
  • Allows the mill to burn more bark and less natural gas

Superheater Tube Replacement (April 2023) 

  • Replacement of tubes that have a buildup
  • Allowing more efficient steam production

Lab Upgrades (2023)

  • Improvements to allow for improved aesthetics and a better testing environment.


Stack bottom Replacement (July 2022) 

  • Replace the bottom of the stack to extend the life

Electrostatic Precipitator 1st field(April 2023) 

  • Change from wire to readily accessible plate design
  • State-of-the-art microprocessor-based control systems-more effective particle removal

Recovery Boiler Ash Evacuation(April 2023)

  • Better collection of ash
  • Higher chemical recovery


Poles and power to Groundskeeper building

  • Replacement of old rotting power poles.

Water Supply Electrical 

  • Raised the MCC for the river pumps up to the 100-year flood level, increasing the reliability of the water supply to the mill.

Waste Water Treatment Plant Electrical 

  • Replacement for old MCC brought up to current standards.

Aeration Pond MCC Replacement

  • Replacement for old MCC brought up to current standards. 

Liquor Prep MCC 27-7500 

  • Replacement for old MCC brought up to current standards.

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