Wood is an increasingly popular material. Windows, ceilings and floors as well as external cladding are made from wood more and more frequently.
“Wood is a natural choice for people. The surface of wood looks nice, and it feels warm when you touch it. Wood can be processed in various ways for different applications. Its benefits also include easy maintenance,” says Ville Valio, Area Sales Director for Europe at Metsä Fibre.
The appearance of sawn timber the most important competitive advantage
Wood continues to compete with other materials. Valio thinks that the most important competitive advantage of timber made of northern softwood is the visually appealing appearance. Its consistency is the result of the climate, and it has small branches and a regular shape thanks to forest management.
As a result of thinning, growing trees have enough room and light. This way, tree trunks become straight, which makes them an excellent raw material for sawn timber used in housing.
Wood’s ability to bind carbon is becoming an increasingly important competitive advantage.
“People are increasingly critical of products made from non-renewable raw materials. Instead, Finnish sawn timber and furnishings made from it are certainly an ecological choice. It is difficult to come up with a better material in terms of sustainability”, Valio says.
Raw material is selected based on the intended use
Each wood product related to housing has a raw material that is ideal for the specific application.
Northern pine is bright, and it has even grains. Bottom logs from well-managed forests have very few branches and beautiful top logs have healthy branches. Pine is used to manufacture doors, windows, battens and furniture, for example. Windows made from heartwood are particularly durable.
Customers who use pine value wood with no problematic deformities or damage such as fractures, cracks or ugly branches, which have a negative impact on the appearance. These kinds of deformities can be removed from products with the help of X-ray sorting, which is carried out before sawing.
Sawn timber from spruce is naturally resistant to moisture. Spruce trees have small and healthy branches, which do not crack. Many products used in internal cladding are made from spruce, but it is a particularly popular material in panels and boards used in external cladding.
Changes in purchasing habits accelerate the supply chain
Changes in constructors and consumers’ purchasing habits show in the supply chain of products related to housing.Previously, the outer cladding of a building was painted on site. Nowadays, painting is increasingly often carried out by the house manufacturer or the company manufacturing cladding products.
“External cladding has become a service product. Customers want ready products that help minimise the time used on site. For us, these kinds of products are often just-in-time deliveries with very specific length requirements”, Valio says.
A large proportion of the products needed in housing are sold in large hardware stores. Consumers want to buy easy-to-use products in batches of their choice. Stores aim to reduce their stock levels and value, and stock up when necessary.
Since industry serving the retail sector does not like to maintain large stocks, the whole supply chain must act rapidly.
Sellers of sawn timber must know end-users’ needs
“The closer we get to the consumer, the smaller the customer size and sales volumes become. Then the professional skills and know-how of the sales personnel become critical. Small batches and accurate deliveries must be combined with large production volume without making sawmills operate less efficiently. In addition, sellers of sawn timber must understand end-users’ needs,” says Valio.
The manufacture of products that meet customers’ needs begins with the planning of felling. The perfect kind of wood raw material is delivered to sawmills, and customers receive sawn timber that is ideal for the intended use and further processing.
Photo 1: Lunawood, Architects: Aleksi Hautamäki and Milla Selkimäki
Photo 2: Norbert Tukaj, Lunawood, Architect: DO ARCHITECTS