The search for operators to run the operations of the new sawmill, currently under construction in Rauma, began with Metsä Group's internal recruitment process in mid-May. The external recruitment began immediately after this, and will continue until 20 September.
The goal is to recruit a total of 60 operators for the sawmill, in two rounds.
The operators' job description will be entirely different from what people in sawmill work are accustomed to. Previously, work at sawmills has largely been carried out at individual workstations. At Rauma, the sawmill's process control will be concentrated in a single control room. All operators will be able to view the sawmill's shared operating system on their screens.
No other sawmill has an equivalent way of working.
"You need to have the motivation and interest – even curiosity – to embrace new operating methods and work with highly automated machines. The desire and ability to learn new things is very important to us," says Liisa-Maija Perävainio, the sawmill's Mill Manager, who is in charge of its recruitment.
Teamwork and independent decision making
Ten operators at a time will work in the control room in teams of two or three. Each team is responsible for a particular phase of the process.
"The tasks during a shift will vary from control-room duties to field rounds and user maintenance. Multiple skills, or the ability to master and carry out multiple tasks, is a must in this work. We also emphasise people skills and the capacity to take responsibility and make decisions. The organisational model gives all of us responsibility, but also an opportunity to influence things."
User maintenance skills are also important. The Rauma sawmill will be run according to the 24/7 principle, every day of the year. Given that the sawmill's operation will only be interrupted for brief maintenance breaks, the operators must be able to anticipate failure situations and take care of them by themselves when necessary.
The operators will also have the chance to familiarise themselves with cutting-edge technology.
"We're building the world's most modern sawmill, in which automation and machine vision will play an important role. We're taking advantage of technology that's not in use anywhere else in the sawmill industry," says Perävainio.
Eighteen months of training
All the new operators will be trained for their job in an approximate 18-month coaching programme.
"The programme is based on apprenticeship training, tailored to fit the background and competence of each future operator. All of them will complete an applicable vocational degree during the training."
On-the-job learning will play a central role. Given that the sawmill is still under construction, every new operator at Rauma will work for a year at a different Metsä Fibre sawmill.
Coaching will be implemented by the Jyväskylä Educational Consortium Gradia. The Rauma sawmill's equipment suppliers will also contribute to the training, and user maintenance will be particularly significant in the content.
"The equipment suppliers' contribution makes the coaching programme very special. They have the latest knowledge of state-of-the-art technology which isn't available anywhere else."
Work at the world's fastest sawmill attracts interest
As a mill manager, Perävainio's situation is good, because she has the opportunity to recruit the personnel whom she will subsequently lead.
"Given that we're recruiting the entire crew at one time, we have the opportunity to put together a like-minded group of individuals who complement each other. The goal is to create a strong team spirit right from the get-go, during the coaching phase."
In addition to 60 operators, the recruitment process covers ten office employees. Perävainio has received inquiries about the new duties from the beginning of the planning phase.
"This really is a great opportunity to be involved in pioneering developments in the sawmill industry. I'm sure you don't come across tasks like this more than once in a lifetime. I believe we can find a motivated crew for Rauma, one with good skills, commitment to goals and a strong will to get the sawmill started up according to plan."
The first operators can get down to work during the equipment installations. When the trial runs of the sawmill get under way in the summer of 2022, the newly recruited operators will be running the world's fastest sawmill.