Pulp is a product that is often transported around the world to customers. However, the Metsä Board paperboard mill in Kemi gets its raw material straight off the production line of the neighbouring Metsä Fibre pulp mill.
It is unique in this field for mills, buyers and sellers to operate largely under the same roof. All the parties work together closely to continuously improve quality, service and the reliability of deliveries.
“We are like a family. Pulp and paperboard mills share some of their personnel resources, such as the safety and HR operations. They also share office spaces and the cafeteria,” says Tomi Seppä, who worked as Mill Director of both pulp and paperboard mill in Kemi, but assumed the post of Mill Director of the Kemi bioproduct mill in the autumn 2021.
He points out that joint mill management makes communication, leadership and operations more efficient.
“The success of one party always benefits and helps the others, too.”
The mills have adopted systematic approaches to meeting market demands. The companies’ sales, technical customer service, product development and production people regularly meet in a joint steering group. This ensures that customer feedback and development impulses from the market can be quickly and smoothly introduced into product development and production.
“Being next-door neighbours, the quality of the entire production chain from incoming wood to the finished paperboard reel can be monitored, which makes the process easier.”
The pulp mill supplies wet pulp directly to the paperboard mill.
“This ensures consistent quality and reliable delivery schedules and improves the cost-effectiveness of both mills. It also helps us provide added value to our customers.”
Everything starts with Metsä Fibre’s high-quality, sustainably produced pulp.
Packaging is an important part of the product brand
The coated and uncoated kraftliners produced by Metsä Board’s Kemi paperboard mill have proved their superiority over the years in terms of packaging quality, purity, print quality and the sustainability of the production chain.
“We can help customers use more lightweight liners,” says Leena Yliniemi, Product Management Director at Metsä Board.
Most paperboard customers and their products are well known to consumers. The Kemi mill has major customers especially in the food industry, and many of them are international top brands.
The company has become a trusted partner of several globally recognised customers thanks to its long-term, purposeful development and quality work. Its main markets comprise Europe, the US and Canada.
Consistent quality to satisfy customer needs
Panu Räsänen, Metsä Board’s Product Manager, stresses that paperboard production in Kemi is steered by customer focus. The products must always satisfy the customer’s most stringent quality requirements and delivery times, in addition to functioning properly in the production processes.
“Quality must remain consistent from reel to reel. This ensures that the packaging and its print quality also meet the customer’s needs,” says Räsänen.
Everything starts with Metsä Fibre’s high-quality, sustainably produced pulp, the origin of which can be traced back to a forest plot.
“We are a front runner in sustainable development and a leader in our branch of industry, producing world-class quality with the greatest achievable material efficiency. This is made possible by our integrated mill and shared quality strategy.”
A sustainable alternative to plastic packaging
Veijo Korkalainen, Vice President, Sales at Metsä Board, notes that a sustainable quality chain lets the Kemi paperboard mill offer a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to plastic packaging, among other things.
The mill is also able to specialise in demanding product segments and customer relationships that use the form, colours and print of packaging to build a brand image.
“Consumer habits and the retail sector’s needs have been changed by e-commerce. In addition to recyclability and quality, the focus of attention is on the visual appearance, design and brand management,” he says.
Investments with an eye to the future
The Kemi pulp mill has provided employment and income in Northern Finland since 1919. A new page in history will be turned in 2023, when the bioproduct mill currently under construction will go online.
“Our current investments will improve the production capacity and delivery reliability of our integrated mill, raising our competitiveness to a whole new level,” says Mill Director Tomi Seppä.
While Metsä Fibre is constructing its bioproduct mill, Metsä Board is investing a total of 67 million euros in developing the energy and water efficiency of its paperboard mill and increasing its production capacity.
“Our previous investments in coating technology have also been far-sighted and successful,” says Product Management Director Leena Yliniemi.
“New investments will make us even stronger, and the packaging market will face a whole new future.”
This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2021-2022.