Metsä Group’s bioproduct mill was started up on 15 August 2017. Its employees now have a year of intensive learning behind them. During this start-up phase, the mill’s operations have been fine-tuned to reach its full production capacity, as well as seeking an optimal balance between the departments in the production process.
Various adjustments and modifications have been a natural part of this phase, in addition to finding solutions to any problems and production bottlenecks.
“The mill’s first annual maintenance shutdown was held in May 2018. Service, maintenance and cleaning work was carried out during the one-week shutdown, in addition to adjustments to further improve the operational reliability and efficiency of the mill process as part of the start-up phase. These measures enabled us to further fine-tune the mill,” says Ilkka Poikolainen, Vice President of bioproduct mill.
The start-up of the mill progressed as planned, in line with the start-up curve. The mill reached its nominal production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of pulp in August 2018. This makes Metsä Group the world’s largest producer of softwood market pulp. According to Poikolainen, the steady pace of production is also significant in terms of the overall efficiency of the mill.
“The mill’s environmental, production and material efficiency are based on a steady pace of production and good operation. For example, odour nuisance occurs in conjunction with process malfunction, as well as shutdown and ramp-up situations, but is practically non-existent when the various departments of the mill operate in a balanced manner at a steady pace of production.”
According to Ilkka Poikolainen, Vice President of bioproduct mill (in the middle), employees’ strong commitment and professional skills played a key role during the start-up phase.
A development path into the future
Poikolainen describes the bioproduct mill’s first year as an intensive learning journey for all employees. In addition to training and induction, employees have learned through practical work. The basics of pulp production have not changed with the new mill. However, the new types of technology at the modern mill and the transition from the project phase to full operation have involved learning many new things.
“As a whole, this is a critical phase, because we are currently creating operating models and practices that will affect our operations and success for a long time to come,” says Poikolainen.
A great deal of learning and development has taken place during the first year. However, Poikolainen points out that the mill will continue to be developed throughout its life cycle.
“Our operations are based on continuous improvement. For example, the development of product quality is a continuous process. We can fully focus on quality, among other aspects, now that the mill is well up to speed. In addition to production, safety and the environment are key to all of our operations, and we are continuously working to improve in these respects as well.”
According to Poikolainen, employees’ strong commitment and professional skills played a key role during the start-up phase.
“I’m particularly proud of the mill organisation and how enthusiastic the employees are about further developing the mill and reaching the set targets. This has required us to outdo ourselves, but now we can be proud of what we have already achieved together. This is a good start.”
Milestones during the bioproduct mill’s first year of operation
15 August 2017
The mill is started up seven minutes ahead of schedule, at 5.53 a.m.
Pulp deliveries to customers begin.
18 October 2017
The mill is inaugurated by Sauli Niinistö, the President of Finland.
21 October 2017
The bioproduct mill’s first Open Doors event attracts 2,500 visitors.
The first annual maintenance shutdown is held at the mill to carry out service, maintenance and cleaning work, in addition to adjustments to ensure the operational reliability and efficiency of the mill process as part of the start-up phase.
Metsä Group’s Pro Nemus visitor centre opens in the mill area in Äänekoski.
The bioproduct mill produces its millionth tonne of pulp on 8 August 2018.
The mill reaches its nominal production capacity of 1.3 million tonnes of pulp.