What makes the Rauma sawmill so unique?

​At the beginning of January, 25 of the operators recruited to the new sawmill will begin their work in Rauma, on the west coast of Finland. Mill Manager Liisa-Maija Perävainio explains what makes the world’s most modern sawmill so unique.

“The Rauma sawmill will lead the entire sawmill industry into a new era. It will  take a huge leap forward in terms of technology, efficiency and operating methods. The speed of sawing will be triple that of standard sawmills,” says Liisa-Maija Perävainio.

“The sawn timber will move automatically through the process all the way to the loading of finished products, and from there to the port, without intermediate storage. Machine vision identifies pieces of sawn timber or other objects that cause interference, which are then removed with the help of robotics. This will also have a big impact on safety at work.”

Another novelty is that the entire sawmill process will be centrally monitored in a single control room, which will emphasise the importance of team work. Of course, the operators will still make rounds to inspect the process and carry out proactive maintenance work and quality assurance tasks. Quality and consistency are key to the sawmill’s competitiveness.

 Mill Manager Liisa-Maija Perävainio

Four teams

Another unique aspect is that the sawmill operators will complete a coaching programme tailored to the sawmill’s needs. Those with prior experience of sawmill work will complete a further vocational 
qualification in maintenance, while the rest will complete a further vocational qualification in the sawmill industry. The Rauma sawmill operators will be divided into four teams, focusing on sawing, grading, kiln drying and packaging. The operators have learned more about the duties of their own team during on-the-job learning periods organised at Metsä Fibre’s sawmills.  

Those who began their studies in January will start working in Rauma at the beginning of 2022. The second group will arrive in May, which means that all the operators will be stationed at their new workplace well before the sawmill starts up in the third quarter.

Perävainio believes it is important that all the operators can take part in the installation of equipment and especially in the test runs of machines and devices. “They will get important instruction and valuable practical experience.” 

High expectations

Perävainio is pleased to note that the sawmill will be operated by a group of skilled and enthusiastic employees. 

“This has been confirmed by the sawmills where the operators completed their on-the-job training periods. The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many challenges in our way, but we’ve successfully responded to all of them.”  

Building a common workplace

Rami Heikkilä (30), from Rauma, was chosen to the group that started their studies in January 2021. 

“I’ve always been interested in the forest industry and even as a kid, I always went to open-door events to marvel at the big mills,” says Heikkilä. “I was thrilled to be selected.”  

Heikkilä has several years of work experience in the process industry, and at the turn of the year, he completed his studies in electrical engineering and automation. He belongs to the grading team and has been doing practical training at the Renko sawmill. 

“I’ve enjoyed on-the-job learning, but would also have liked to learn more about the other units,” says Heikkilä. 

He completed all the four demonstrations related to the vocational qualification in the sawmill industry in early autumn already. 

“I’m looking forward to working with the group and building a common workplace that is a frontrunner in the entire sawmill industry.”  

In October, Rami Heikkilä got the chance to visit the control room, still under construction then, from which operators centrally control the whole process. Photo: Elmeri Elo

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