The record mill

The massive process of constructing Metsä Fibre's pioneering bioproduct mill is an impressive feat of project management.
TEXT: TIMO NYKÄNEN, PHOTO: METSÄ FIBRE

In April 2015 Metsä Fibre finally gave the go ahead for building its new bioproduct mill at Äänekoski in Central Finland. Preliminary planning of this carefully prepared initiative began back in 2013, and the project was formally announced in April 2014. It took a year for the company’s senior management to study and approve the associated investment proposal. Construction work then began immediately with a view to bringing the new facility on stream by the end of summer 2017.

“The overall schedule is fairly tight, but by no means exceptional. Admittedly the conditions are a bit more challenging than on a standard greenfield project, as the new mill will become part of an integrated industrial site that already includes fully operational pulp, paperboard and chemical manufacturing facilities,” explains bioproduct mill Project Director Timo Merikallio.

He stresses the importance of harmonising the construction project and the adjacent ongoing industrial operations. The precise boundaries of the available 100-acre site are another unusual factor calling for particularly careful project planning and forecasting.

“We are acutely conscious that this is a major construction project, even by global standards, and by far the largest undertaken so far in Finland, but with so many highly experienced project specialists involved, there can hardly be any aspects that we have not previously encountered,” Merikallio adds.

He can also rely on substantial professional experience of his own, having originally joined the operation then known as Metsä Botnia at Äänekoski in 1986. His career finally brought him back to this site in 2013 after a spell as manager of the company’s mill in Rauma, Southwest Finland. Merikallio was also involved in preliminary design work on the fibre line for Finland’s last pulp mill construction project at Joutseno in 2001.


A local landmark

Timo Merikallio explains that the first stage of the construction work began when the mill area was fenced off in May. This was followed by basic site preparation work, pile driving, and casting of the foundations for the mill chimney.

“The chimney will be nearly 400 feet high and 40 feet in diameter. Erecting the slipcast concrete chimney will already be an impressive feat, and will provide the first prominent sign of this construction work that can be seen from outside the mill site by the late summer. A temporary wood yard constructed outside the current mill site fence will also be visible locally.”

The mill will be an industry benchmark

Merikallio explains that the building construction phase will continue into the first half of 2016, and will then be followed by plant installation work until early 2017. The third project phase will comprise test operation of the new mill with a view to finally coming on stream in August 2017.



Timo Merikallio, Project Director, Bioproduct mill, Metsä Fibre

Promoting renewable energy

Metsä Fibre has agreed the plant and building design of the new bioproduct mill with Sweco Industry Ltd and Sweco Structures Ltd. These companies will collaborate on the project together with Neste Jacobs Oy. The main suppliers of industrial plant for the new mill will be Valmet Corporation and Andritz Oy, with Valmet supplying the recovery boiler, pulp drying line, lime kiln, bark gasification plant and automation system, and Andritz delivering the fibre line and wood processing, evaporation and causticising plants.

“We have yet to agree on delivery of such plant as the electricity generating turbine and certain solutions for treating wastewater and manufacturing process chemicals,” Merikallio reports.

The recovery boiler and lime kiln will be among equipment solutions applying entirely new and advanced forms of energy technology that will help to make the bioproduct mill the world’s most energy-efficient, entirely fossil fuel-free pulp manufacturing facility. As a major promoter of energy efficiency, the Äänekoski project also qualified for a renewable energy investment subsidy of just over 32 million euros from the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy in April 2015.

“It was already obvious at the early pre-planning stage that this would be much more than a mere pulp mill. The idea is to build a paradigm example of efficiency in the use of energy and resources, and to find bioproducts that enable us to extract higher added value from raw materials than in a conventional facility,” Merikallio explains."


An Important source of employment

One motivation for the bioproduct mill project was steady growth in global sales of market softwood pulp, especially in the Far East. Global demand for pulp stood at about 23 million tonnes in 2011, and is forecast to reach about 25 million tonnes by 2017.

Investing in capacity to serve the buoyant softwood pulp market will boost the growth prospects of Metsä Fibre and improve the company’s long-term viability. The location in Central Finland is also ideal for ensuring access to high quality raw materials, with the region’s logistic networks already in place.

The bioproduct mill will create some 6,000 jobs during the construction stage

The bioproduct mill will create some 6,000 jobs during the construction stage, followed by a sustained positive employment impact of more than 2,500 jobs in the overall value chain after the new facility comes on stream. The new mill will have a staff of about 200 employees.

“The main local news for the Äänekoski area is that our new unit will ensure industrial jobs at our plant for the next 30 years, with new jobs largely arising in other districts where wood is harvested and transported,” Merikallio says.

He explains that the construction work has been divided into dozens of sub-projects that also provide employment opportunities for small and medium-sized local building contractors.

The bioproduct mill will also sustain a diverse range of specialised bioeconomy businesses creating and producing the wood-based bioproducts of the future. This promises substantial multiplier effects for the region, and for Finland as a whole.



Camilla Wikström, Mill Manager, Metsä Fibre Äänekoski

 

A smooth start


Camilla Wikström, the incumbent Mill Manager at Äänekoski, has been appointed to take charge of the new bioproduct mill as of 1 September 2015. Her responsibilities during the construction project will include establishing the operating format and organisation of the bioproduct mill, and managing public relations. Wikström joined Metsä Group in 2002, and has previously been responsible for customer service and R&D at the company.

“My main job at this stage is to manage resource planning, staff skills development and the establishment of an operating format for the new mill to ensure that we make the best possible start. Careful planning is essential in this start-up, because it will also involve shutting down the old operation,” Wikström explains.

The bioproduct mill will entirely replace the current pulp mill at Äänekoski, and Wikström will seek to implement the changeover with only a few days between shutting down the old facility and launching operations at the new one.

A common challenge

Relations with customers, stakeholders and society at large are particularly important in a project that will have a substantial impact on the entire national economy of Finland. Wikström explains that maintaining open communication channels with various parties will be a key aspect of her project duties.

“It has been gratifying to see how positively the project has been received and how willing everyone has been to participate. At the end of April, for example, we arranged a public event at the market square in Äänekoski to give local residents an opportunity to learn more about the project and to meet the people involved. Several hundred interested visitors also took the opportunity to join in tours of the mill area.”

Camilla Wikström will ensure the continued release of frank and timely public information throughout the project.

Related articles

  • FibreOnline

    Issue 1/2018/ Solutions

    Building 24/7 customer service – together

    ​Based on customer feedback and a user research project, Metsä Fibre has completely revamped their online services. Today, these services have become a holistic tool where customers can find everything they need and even download certifications to pass on to their customers. It’s all in one place – online – easily accessed 24/7 at the push of a button.  

    Read More
  • Paptic

    Issue 1/2018/ Partners

    Replacing plastics

    ​Paptic is a biobased, recyclable and renewable next generation packaging material made of sustainable wood fibre. Developed by a Finnish start-up company of the same name, Paptic is suitable for uses where plastic films have previously been the only alternative.

    Read More
  • Kemi mill

    Issue 1/2018/

    Prefeasibility study launched on renewal of Kemi pulp mill

    ​Metsä Fibre has launched a prefeasibility study on the renewal of its pulp mill in Kemi, with the option of either replacing the current mill or extending its life cycle.

    Read More
  • mill

    Issue 1/2018/ Solutions

    RFID brings precision to deliveries

    ​RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is an identification technology that enables efficient and reliable real time tracking of pulp deliveries. Every pulp unit leaving a Metsä Fibre mill automatically includes RFID tags that help to ensure deliveries and minimise consignment errors.

    Read More
  • employee

    Issue 1/2018/

    Appointments at Metsä Fibre's mills

    ​New appointments at Metsä Fibre's mills announced.

    Read More
  • Äänekoski

    Issue 1/2018/

    Metsä Spring plans textile fibre production

    ​Metsä Group has established a new innovation company, Metsä Spring Ltd.

    Read More
  • Ismo Nousiainen

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    Pursuing excellence

    ​The business environment continually changes, and company operations must accordingly evolve to keep pace. There is always room to improve, and always an imperative to do so. Regeneration and continual improvement are no longer a choice, but a necessity and a condition for surviving in the modern era. 

    Read More
  • Kate Stone

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    Print is dead, long live print

    ​Print is the most pervasive human interface: we write on it, read it, wear it, sit on it and even eat from it!

    Read More
  • campfire

    Issue 1/2018/ Sustainability

    On a journey of sustainability

    Common sustainability goals bring industry operators together for a memorable event.

    Read More
  • Song

    Issue 1/2018/ Markets

    Eastern horizons

    ​Introducing Wangqiu Song – Metsä Group’s recently recruited SVP, Asia and China – and his unique perspectives on both the Finnish and Asian pulp businesses. 

    Read More
  • Li Na

    Issue 1/2018/ Partners

    Shared values strengthen cooperation

    ​Li Na, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Sun Paper company, says that Metsä Fibre’s strong brand reputation, core values and product quality form the basis of a solid partnership.

    Read More
  • Äänekoski

    / Sustainability

    Key Customer Event showcases sustainable forest management

    ​Running through May 23-25, Metsä Fibre organised a Key Customer Event in and around Äänekoski, the site of its new bioproduct mill, inviting international clients to Central Finland.

    Read More
  • technology

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    A digital revolution

    ​Technological trends arising from digitalisation, such as IoT, artificial intelligence and data analytics, are having a major impact on society, the world of work and the business operations of Metsä Fibre.

    Read More
  • Issue 1/2018/ Sustainability

    New combination certificate covers all Metsä Fibre operations

    ​Metsä Fibre’s aim of continuously improving its operations is supported by certified control and management systems, related to quality, the environment, energy efficiency and safety. The systems enable, for example, tracking the origin of the wood raw material and following the logistics chain.

    Read More
  • old Äänekoski mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Recycling the old Äänekoski mill

    ​The start of operations at the new Metsä Fibre bioproduct mill in Äänekoski has meant shutting down the old pulp mill, and its demolition is currently under way. This work began in June by dismantling the old wastewater treatment plant.

    Read More
  • Woman using a tablet

    Issue 2/2017/

    Customer satisfaction high at Metsä Fibre

    The annual Metsä Fibre customer satisfaction survey was completed again this summer with interviews of pulp customers in various market areas. The overall customer satisfaction rating remained almost unchanged at 8.61 on a scale from 4 to 10.

    Read More
  • Bioproduct mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    World-class bioproduct mill

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, is the largest wood processing plant in the Northern Hemisphere, which brings prosperity to the whole of Finland. The new mill is called a bioproduct mill since it increases the product portfolio with new bioproducts, generates excess bioenergy, and operates without any fossil fuels. The pulp production capacity of the mill is 1.3 million tonnes of pulp a year.

    Read More
  • Inauguration

    Issue 2/2017/

    Bioproduct mill inaugurated

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, was inaugurated by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö on 18 October 2017. Hosted by President and CEO of Metsä Group Kari Jordan, guests at the event included national policy-makers, representatives from the City of Äänekoski and various partners in cooperation related to the bioproduct mill project.

    Read More
  • SkinCare 2.0

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Innovative products from cellulose fibre: GreenDoer

    ​Based in China, Metsä Fibre’s partner company GreenDoer is a leading supplier of next-generation sustainable packaging solutions to the consumer industry. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the company has developed innovative 3D shaping technology for producing molded fibre products.

    Read More
  • Forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Markets

    Europe's forest nation

    ​Charting the past, present and future of Finland’s uniquely productive relationship with the forest. From Metsä Fibre's perspective, the sustainable and well-organised forest management in Finland and the growing demand from Asia make the future look bright.

    Read More
  • Ahlstrom Munksjo

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    The joy of segmentation

    What’s at the heart of a hundred-year success story? Two successful companies, Metsä Group and Ahlstrom-Munksjö, with deep roots and an intense passion for customer satisfaction.

    Read More
  • Winter forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Boosting the bioeconomy

    CEPI Director General Sylvain Lhôte says that the forest industry has an unbeatable sustainability story to tell, but should be better in communicating its strengths.

    Read More
  • Christmas star

    /

    Something old, something new

    ​From 1996, it has been a tradition to have a Christmas star shining over our Äänekoski mill. Set up on top of the digester, the star used to be a landmark of the old mill, wishing Merry Christmas while bringing light to the mill area.

    Read More
  • confectionary packaging

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Perspectives on product safety

    ​Experts on product safety from throughout Metsä Group – as well as customer organisation CP Kelco – share their views on this crucial area.

    Read More

Most popular

  • Ismo Nousiainen

    Issue 2/2017/ Voice

    Sharpening the customer focus

    Incoming Metsä Fibre CEO Ismo Nousiainen aims to make sure that customers can see the company’s values clearly realised in all of its operations.

    Read More
  • Markku Nikkilä

    Issue 2/2017/ Voice

    Sustainable growth from biocomposites

    The abundant annually regenerating forests of Finland place the country in pole position for promoting a bioeconomy based on the sustainable use of renewable natural resources. One example of a solution that reduces the need for fossil oil and polymers is an innovative biocomposite material developed by the Finnish companies Aqvacomp Oy and Elastopoli Ltd.

    Read More
  • confectionary packaging

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Perspectives on product safety

    ​Experts on product safety from throughout Metsä Group – as well as customer organisation CP Kelco – share their views on this crucial area.

    Read More
  • Ahlstrom Munksjo

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    The joy of segmentation

    What’s at the heart of a hundred-year success story? Two successful companies, Metsä Group and Ahlstrom-Munksjö, with deep roots and an intense passion for customer satisfaction.

    Read More
  • Winter forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Boosting the bioeconomy

    CEPI Director General Sylvain Lhôte says that the forest industry has an unbeatable sustainability story to tell, but should be better in communicating its strengths.

    Read More
  • Christmas star

    /

    Something old, something new

    ​From 1996, it has been a tradition to have a Christmas star shining over our Äänekoski mill. Set up on top of the digester, the star used to be a landmark of the old mill, wishing Merry Christmas while bringing light to the mill area.

    Read More
  • SkinCare 2.0

    Issue 2/2017/ Partners

    Innovative products from cellulose fibre: GreenDoer

    ​Based in China, Metsä Fibre’s partner company GreenDoer is a leading supplier of next-generation sustainable packaging solutions to the consumer industry. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, the company has developed innovative 3D shaping technology for producing molded fibre products.

    Read More
  • Forest

    Issue 2/2017/ Markets

    Europe's forest nation

    ​Charting the past, present and future of Finland’s uniquely productive relationship with the forest. From Metsä Fibre's perspective, the sustainable and well-organised forest management in Finland and the growing demand from Asia make the future look bright.

    Read More
  • Inauguration

    Issue 2/2017/

    Bioproduct mill inaugurated

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, was inaugurated by the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö on 18 October 2017. Hosted by President and CEO of Metsä Group Kari Jordan, guests at the event included national policy-makers, representatives from the City of Äänekoski and various partners in cooperation related to the bioproduct mill project.

    Read More
  • Bioproduct mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    World-class bioproduct mill

    ​Metsä Fibre’s next-generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland, is the largest wood processing plant in the Northern Hemisphere, which brings prosperity to the whole of Finland. The new mill is called a bioproduct mill since it increases the product portfolio with new bioproducts, generates excess bioenergy, and operates without any fossil fuels. The pulp production capacity of the mill is 1.3 million tonnes of pulp a year.

    Read More
  • old Äänekoski mill

    Issue 2/2017/ Sustainability

    Recycling the old Äänekoski mill

    ​The start of operations at the new Metsä Fibre bioproduct mill in Äänekoski has meant shutting down the old pulp mill, and its demolition is currently under way. This work began in June by dismantling the old wastewater treatment plant.

    Read More
  • Woman using a tablet

    Issue 2/2017/

    Customer satisfaction high at Metsä Fibre

    The annual Metsä Fibre customer satisfaction survey was completed again this summer with interviews of pulp customers in various market areas. The overall customer satisfaction rating remained almost unchanged at 8.61 on a scale from 4 to 10.

    Read More
  • Issue 1/2018/ Sustainability

    New combination certificate covers all Metsä Fibre operations

    ​Metsä Fibre’s aim of continuously improving its operations is supported by certified control and management systems, related to quality, the environment, energy efficiency and safety. The systems enable, for example, tracking the origin of the wood raw material and following the logistics chain.

    Read More
  • FibreOnline

    Issue 1/2018/ Solutions

    Building 24/7 customer service – together

    ​Based on customer feedback and a user research project, Metsä Fibre has completely revamped their online services. Today, these services have become a holistic tool where customers can find everything they need and even download certifications to pass on to their customers. It’s all in one place – online – easily accessed 24/7 at the push of a button.  

    Read More
  • Paptic

    Issue 1/2018/ Partners

    Replacing plastics

    ​Paptic is a biobased, recyclable and renewable next generation packaging material made of sustainable wood fibre. Developed by a Finnish start-up company of the same name, Paptic is suitable for uses where plastic films have previously been the only alternative.

    Read More
  • Song

    Issue 1/2018/ Markets

    Eastern horizons

    ​Introducing Wangqiu Song – Metsä Group’s recently recruited SVP, Asia and China – and his unique perspectives on both the Finnish and Asian pulp businesses. 

    Read More
  • technology

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    A digital revolution

    ​Technological trends arising from digitalisation, such as IoT, artificial intelligence and data analytics, are having a major impact on society, the world of work and the business operations of Metsä Fibre.

    Read More
  • Äänekoski

    / Sustainability

    Key Customer Event showcases sustainable forest management

    ​Running through May 23-25, Metsä Fibre organised a Key Customer Event in and around Äänekoski, the site of its new bioproduct mill, inviting international clients to Central Finland.

    Read More
  • Li Na

    Issue 1/2018/ Partners

    Shared values strengthen cooperation

    ​Li Na, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Sun Paper company, says that Metsä Fibre’s strong brand reputation, core values and product quality form the basis of a solid partnership.

    Read More
  • mill

    Issue 1/2018/ Solutions

    RFID brings precision to deliveries

    ​RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is an identification technology that enables efficient and reliable real time tracking of pulp deliveries. Every pulp unit leaving a Metsä Fibre mill automatically includes RFID tags that help to ensure deliveries and minimise consignment errors.

    Read More
  • campfire

    Issue 1/2018/ Sustainability

    On a journey of sustainability

    Common sustainability goals bring industry operators together for a memorable event.

    Read More
  • Ismo Nousiainen

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    Pursuing excellence

    ​The business environment continually changes, and company operations must accordingly evolve to keep pace. There is always room to improve, and always an imperative to do so. Regeneration and continual improvement are no longer a choice, but a necessity and a condition for surviving in the modern era. 

    Read More
  • Kate Stone

    Issue 1/2018/ Voice

    Print is dead, long live print

    ​Print is the most pervasive human interface: we write on it, read it, wear it, sit on it and even eat from it!

    Read More
  • employee

    Issue 1/2018/

    Appointments at Metsä Fibre's mills

    ​New appointments at Metsä Fibre's mills announced.

    Read More
  • Äänekoski

    Issue 1/2018/

    Metsä Spring plans textile fibre production

    ​Metsä Group has established a new innovation company, Metsä Spring Ltd.

    Read More
  • Kemi mill

    Issue 1/2018/

    Prefeasibility study launched on renewal of Kemi pulp mill

    ​Metsä Fibre has launched a prefeasibility study on the renewal of its pulp mill in Kemi, with the option of either replacing the current mill or extending its life cycle.

    Read More