The builders of the bioproduct mill: Working with an experienced team

The Kemi bioproduct mill is now in the construction stage. In a large-scale industrial project, this means carefully scheduled work stages and smooth cooperation. Eelon Lappalainen, the Construction Manager in charge of the bioproduct mill’s construction, speaks highly of the Kemi project team and its members, who support one another with their own special skills and experience.​​​​​​​
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The Kemi bioproduct mill project of Metsä Fibre, part of Metsä Group, has progressed according to the planned schedule. This spring, construction work and mechanical installations will be progressing side by side in several areas.

“Construction is now focusing on the debarking department, kiln drying department, causticising plant, evaporation plant, wastewater treatment plant and water treatment. In April and May, we will be performing mechanical installations in all these areas. The work actually began last July with the installation of large towers for bleached pulp,” says Construction Manager Eelon Lappalainen, who is the supervisor of the construction team for the Kemi project and a member of the project’s management group.

In a large construction project, everything starts with the baseline schedule, from which all other project schedules are derived.

“What makes this project special is that both the client – that is, Metsä Fibre – and the project supervisor have very experienced teams whose members are key employees. This means the schedule drawn up by the client is based on solid experience and vision. It is also easy for the parties to commit to such a schedule.

In industrial construction, construction tasks are mainly coordinated with mechanical installations. At first, coordination is driven by construction and later by mechanical installation.

“To complete a project of this size on schedule, you need strong cooperation between the people responsible for each stage, and without good cooperation, the project cannot succeed. The success of projects always hinges on people and their mutual trust, strong ties and a shared goal. Cooperation means discussing and working on things together.”

According to Lappalainen, one of the shared goals in the Kemi project is to ensure that industry has a future in Kemi, and that the area can offer jobs well into the future.

Unique piling site in Finland

In his work, Lappalainen believes it is useful to identify one’s own limits and those of the team.

“It is important to provide all the necessary support to team members, in both the good and the bad times. Avoid micromanaging and make sure everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities. I try to let everyone work in peace and give them space to go about their work in their own way. The main goal in my work is to ensure the project succeeds, and that is what we project management specialists clear the way for.

Lappalainen approaches challenges from an engineer’s perspective.

“If you have a well-structured project with functioning processes, you can identify any challenges well in advance, giving you time to react and choose the best possible solution.

Lappalainen arrives at work at seven in the morning, has his morning coffee in the site cabin with the constructors and exchanges ideas with the team. Meetings begin between eight and nine and usually continue throughout the day.

Lappalainen considers the investment decision to have been the project’s highlight.

“The special transport of large components through the City of Kemi was another major event, as will be the conclusion of piling work on the site, which we will see later this spring. A piling site of this size will not be seen in Finland for a while. The fourth major event will take place at the end of the year, with the start of commissioning and the construction site gradually beginning to resemble a real running mill.”

During the bioproduct mill project, the world has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.

“In my opinion, it has been more challenging to build strong groups during the pandemic, yet the team spirit on the site is great. I am especially pleased that we have successfully promoted Lean construction in Kemi, taking it a step further from the Äänekoski bioproduct mill project.”

The focus of construction is now on the framework and floors, and next in line are the outer layers and roofs, which will be covered and sealed before the next frost period.

“The construction of the Sahansaari private rail track continues and will be completed at the end of the year, when rail traffic is also set to begin. In May, Port of Kemi Ltd will begin preparing the slip casting of peer elements for next summer’s ice-free season in the Port of Ajos. In the summer, the levelling of outdoor areas will begin in Sahansaari and gradually move towards Pajusaari. This work will be finalised in the spring of 2023,” says Lappalainen.

Eelon Lappalainen


Place of residence Espoo
Age 47
Job ​Construction Manager
Education BEng (construction engineering), MEng (construction engineering), doctoral student
Dissertation topic The use of the situation picture in construction
Career 10 years as a carpenter, and then through engineering studies to structural design, design management and part-time research: Miraplan Oy, Consulting Engineers Magnus Malmberg Oy, ÅF-Consult Oy, Sweco, Fimpec, Aalto University
Family ​​Wife, two children, pug
Hobbies Most of my leisure time is taken up by reading and research related to my doctoral dissertation, but I also manage to squeeze in 1–2 e-books a month on other subjects. I also enjoy travel and volunteering in the National Defence Training Association.
Motto Malum consilium quod mutari non potest (Publilius Cyrus)
​​​​​​​A plan that cannot be changed is a bad one

The builders of the bioproduct mill

The builders of the bioproduct mill is a series of articles that introduces readers to the people bringing the Kemi bioproduct mill to life and describes their work as part of the biggest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry. This is the fourth article in the series.

Read other published articles:

A project that pays attention to safety will stay on track

New bioproduct mill to be built with best available technology

Ensuring safety is a common effort

The construction of the bioproduct mill is progressing according to plan

Information exchange among contractors is important

An interactive approach ensures results

Successful solutions make the project manager happy

Commissioning takes the bioproduct mill towards a successful start-up