All machinery in place

Installation work at Koskisen’s new sawmill has been carried out throughout the spring. Work has been done in simultaneous, sequential and overlapping phases, but despite the many moving parts, the project has remained on schedule. Now, just before Midsummer, zero hour is a mere two weeks away.

Equipment installations for Koskisen’s new sawmill can be considered to have started in practice during the 2022 summer shutdown period. The stick-stacking line was upgraded then as a replacement investment with the aim of preventing bottlenecks and ensuring uninterrupted production when the new sawing line starts up. The first equipment installations for the sawmill itself started in early 2023 with the infeed and dimension sorting.

“Hardware, machines, electricity and automation, the work environment, including tending platforms and gangways, and on top of all that, building services technology,” says Jaakko Haapanen, equipment installations project manager on the sawmill project, listing the order of progression.

Under Haapanen’s leadership, the installation inspection team made up of experts from Koskisen oversees the progress of the work and makes observations about possible deviations and shortcomings. The pieces have gradually fallen into place, and the first inspections indicate that everything has gone as expected.

“The installation inspection team includes people in charge of safety, mechanics and electricity. Standards have been set for the work, and our job is to ensure that they are adhered to,” explains Haapanen.

Still on schedule

The time frame for deliveries and installations was drawn up already during the planning phase. Since the work started, overlapping work has been carried out in the sawmill building, with several different equipment suppliers each working with their own machines. Despite the whirlwind of activity, everything has gone without a hitch.

“A project like this requires a great deal of co-ordination. My job is to keep track of the progress of the various phases and communicate with the installation teams. Timo Lintusaari helps me out with the electrical installations,” says Haapanen.

Haapanen says some minor changes have been made, and improvements had to be made to automation on the stick-stacking line. On a positive note, however, it was possible to begin the installations ahead of time, and there has been no deviation from the target schedule. All the players share the view that the line will start up at the start of July as planned.

“It is amazing how well we have kept to the schedule that was decided on in April 2021. Big thanks for that go to the builders and equipment suppliers, not to mention our own people,” states Lassi Santala, project director on the investment project.

According to Santala, systematic training has been an integral part of the installations. The sawmill’s operators and maintenance personnel have been trained since March.

“The training started on the theoretical level but gradually moved to the line in order to see what happens in practice and what the machines look like,” says Santala.

Successes and lessons learned

As the installations reach their end, the equipment suppliers have increased their own testing. The number of installers has decreased, and the hall has filled up with programmers. Even though it was clear from the start that this is a major project, its true scale has become apparent to Santala only along the way.

“Of course, I understood that this is a massive project. But it is still astonishing to think that in the span of two years, 50 companies and 1,000 people, representing ten different nationalities, have been working on this site. Looking back now, it was a good thing that at Koskisen we had the wisdom to build a sufficiently large project organisation for ourselves,” he says.

The job of project management is to ensure that the project progresses and to enable its success.

In terms of future projects, Haapanen considers it important to participate more closely in equipment suppliers’ planning phase in order to prevent any surprises later on. Santala, for his part, reflects on how automation engineering could better keep track of the degree of completion of the work.

“With hardware, it is possible to have some kind of notion, but when it comes to software, it is practically impossible. You just have to keep interviewing and challenging programmers and break down the progression into smaller parts that are easier to monitor,” he stresses.

When the sawmill starts up, the goal set for the first day is to saw 500 logs. The sawing line will run at low speeds and the volume will not be high, but the intention is to gain some kind of understanding of the sawmill’s capabilities overall. Santala and Haapanen calmly look forward to that day.

“Monitoring how the work has been progressing and concretely seeing how the machines are finding their place and the tests are going, we are very confident that everything will go as planned.”