Portrait of a professional: Good planning ensures efficient production

Timo Tuomela is planning the Rauma sawmill production chain with the confidence that comes from long experience. His interest in wood has remained strong from decade to decade.
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  • Sawn timber, Our professionals, 2023

Timo Tuomela has worked in production planning for 20 years. In early 2022, he transferred from Metsä Fibre’s Merikarvia sawmill to Rauma, where he plans the sawmill’s production of 750,000 cubic metres.

How did you end up in the sawmill industry?

I got a summer job at a sawmill in the 1990s. That motivated me to study at the Kotka College of Forestry and Wood Technology. I have worked at Metsä Fibre’s sawmills for a total of 25 years. I come from Merikarvia and first worked for quite a while at the local sawmill.

At first, I was curious about sawn timber production and its different stages. Over the years, I became increasingly interested in the use of wood as raw material.

What is your job like?

I work at the interface of production, sales and deliveries. I plan the entire production chain from raw material allocation at the sawmill to the point where the finished end product is delivered to the customer. It is my job to steer the whole production process, including the choice of log categories and sawing patterns. Sawing patterns are chosen according to the products to be sawn from the log, and they also optimise and maximise yield.

Good planning ensures optimal raw material use, efficient production, reliable deliveries and premium quality for customers. Successful planning is based on good predictions about the raw material. Wood Supply provides us with detailed information about the length and diameter of the logs arriving at the sawmill. This helps us plan and schedule the production chain.

We must pay close attention to the different process stages. For example, drying plays an important role in the production process. If poorly planned, it can negatively impact product quality, for example by causing deformation.

What is the best thing about your work?

I enjoy working with natural materials. The production planning process is a comprehensive and interesting task that is made even more challenging by the living material we work with. I think that the diversity of Nordic wood and its endless present and future uses are inspiring.

Technology and the opportunities it offers have always interested me. For example, X-ray measurement gives us an inside view of the log, which helps us determine which end product it suits best. As technology continues to develop, we will get increasingly detailed information about the properties of our wood.

What inspires you?

Although I have long experience from the sawmill industry, the Rauma sawmill will be a very different environment. Everything is new from the buildings to the machinery. The process will be overseen from a single control room, and we will be using cutting-edge equipment and an ERP system.

I believe it is a good thing that Metsä Fibre is focusing on utilising all the side streams from sawn timber production and on making full use of our valuable Nordic wood.

The wood I appreciate so highly also waits for me at home on the west coast. My family and I live in a wooden house built from carefully chosen material.

This article was originally published in Timber Magazine issue 2022-2023.

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Meet Timo Tuomela on video