Panel Industry adapts to global changes

Tom-Peter Helenius, Director of Koskisen’s Panel Industry, and Eunice Joensuu, Supply Chain Director, Panel Industry, agree that the past year has, naturally, impacted Koskisen’s operations.

“Finland shares a border with Russia and we imported some raw material from there earlier. However, we have worked hard with our partners and suppliers and found replacement raw materials,” Helenius says. “We used to import a small amount of birch from Russia, but that ended a year ago. Now all our birch is from Finland.”

Helenius says that the competition for raw materials is relatively tough. Bearing in mind the situation, Koskisen has been successful in procuring birch.

“Our wood procurement has been very successful, the situation notwithstanding,” Helenius points out. “We are proceeding according to plan otherwise as well. The mill is doing well and production is continuing.”

“We didn’t run out of raw materials at any point and this is largely due to really good supplier collaboration. We have also succeeded in our creative solutions,” Joensuu adds. “The flexibility of our production is clear: we can operate even in challenging conditions.”

Helenius explains that the energy market and raw material market have changed – if not permanently then at least significantly and for a long time to come. The changes don’t scare Koskisen because the company is used to being agile and flexible in changing situations.

“We’ve done well overall but it has taken some hard work,” Helenius says. The latest financial statements review shares this message: Koskisen achieved a record-high result in 2022.

Investments in new equipment and sustainable products for the markets

According to Joensuu, Koskisen continuously works to improve material efficiency through various measures. Koskisen is investing in material efficiency, for example, by building a new spindleless peeling line which will improve the efficiency of wood raw material use and improve the possibility to use logs with a smaller diameter in the production of veneer. Installation of the peeling line will begin in August 2023 and it will be commissioned in late 2023.

“In addition, we have two new sustainable products, one of which is the world’s first 100% wood-based ZERO Furniture Board and the other is the SENSi floor panel designed for cargo fleets,” Helenius adds.

SENSi panels detect pressure caused by the load, collect data and optimise transportation. The environmentally friendly ZERO Furniture Board made entirely from bio-based material is a versatile and sustainable novelty for the furniture industry.

Joensuu also explains that Koskisen has created recruitment training for Ukrainians arriving in Kärkölä municipality, together with the Salpaus Further Education Centre, the Häme TE Office and the Häme Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment. The three-month course gave nine Ukrainians training in the plywood mill’s operations and tasks and they studied Finnish and practiced for their new jobs. Following the training, they were given jobs at Koskisen.