Kemi bioproduct mill is an outstanding example of competence

Success in a large project calls for seamless cooperation between many parties. Kemi bioproduct mill raises environmental efficiency, safety, digitalisation, and sidestream utilisation to a new level – offering the participants an opportunity to showcase their skills.
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  • 2023, Kemi bioproductmill, Pulp

Well planned is half done, as the saying goes. It applies perfectly to the construction of Kemi bioproduct mill, which has progressed as scheduled despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

“We have never wavered in our goal to complete this construction project in accordance with the minutely prepared plans. We are now focusing on the mill’s safe and smooth start-up according to schedule,” says Jari-Pekka Johansson, Project Director at Kemi bioproduct mill project.

Success in a large construction project calls for competent employees and smooth cooperation among a variety of parties and partners.

Comprehensive training for employees

Production at the new mill will begin in the third quarter of 2023 but personnel training, involving employees at the current Kemi pulp mill, began in the spring of 2021. It is intended to secure the smooth deployment of the new mill and the controlled shutdown of the old one.

VP, Production Tomi Seppä notes that detailed training plans have been drawn up for each unit, and their progress is monitored systematically in cooperation with the project supervisors and supervisors at the current Kemi mill. Training covers safety, environmental performance, and the technological competence required by the new mill’s production process and equipment.

“In addition to traditional forms of training, we provide simulator training tailored for individual units to help the employees run and learn about the new mill’s process before the actual start-up. Some of the employees have also had the opportunity to study the new technique in practice during training visits to Äänekoski bioproduct mill,” says Seppä.

The employees have found the training periods at other mills motivating and good for team spirit within the company.

“We cooperate closely with our colleagues at Äänekoski bioproduct mill, which lowers our threshold for requesting help if we encounter any problems. It also enables us to share our best practices and support continuous improvement between different production units.”

In addition to competence, Metsä Fibre emphasises wellbeing at work.
“It has been one important consideration when planning and implementing new facilities,” says Seppä.

Partners reflect high quality requirements

The key partners of Kemi bioproduct mill include AFRY, in charge of engineering; Fimpec, in charge of construction management; Valmet, supplier of main process equipment; ABB, supplier of electrification; and Andritz, supplier of sludge and wood processing technology. There are a total of almost 1,500 companies involved in the project. During one day, about 500 companies work at the site.

The construction work involves a large group of Finnish companies. The proportion of Finnish-origin work in the project is extremely high – around 70 per cent.

From the outset, partner choices reflected the extremely high safety and quality requirements set for the project. Other important considerations were schedule dependability and proactive combatting of the grey economy.

“We wanted to have the best professionals in the field on board, provided they are committed to our goals, and we found them,” Johansson says.

We wanted to have the best professionals in the field on board.

Towards common goals

Valmet is supplying Kemi bioproduct mill with all the main process technologies and the entire mill’s automation system. Valmet has nearly 1,200 employees working on these and an 85-strong project management team on-site.

“The Kemi project is significant to us for both employment and technological development. Most of the design and production is carried out in Finland,” says Bertel Karlstedt, Director of Valmet’s Pulp and Energy Business Line.

Metsä Fibre and Valmet have the same goals in technological advancement and sustainability.

“At Valmet, we are committed to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions from our operations by 80 per cent and improving the energy efficiency of our technologies by 20 per cent by 2030. Kemi bioproduct mill is a ground-breaking investment, which will feature the most environmentally efficient and sustainable solutions. They represent cutting-edge sustainability by minimising emissions and using side streams efficiently,” says Karlstedt.

Superior project competence

Kemi bioproduct mill is an important project for AFRY, which is overseeing its design and planning. AFRY is the largest design company in the Nordic countries and its work for the Kemi project has involved hundreds of people at times. More than 100,000 design documents have been accumulated to date.

“Modern design tools and a digital platform have made it easier to grasp the big picture. They combine the data from different parties in a single view and ultimately in the mill’s systems when it is up and running,” says Nicholas Oksanen, EVP and Head of the Process Industries Division at AFRY.

He is especially pleased with the competent and experienced project organisation, which has brought together the key personnel from different parties.

“When work began, none of us could have imagined the exceptional arrangements that the project teams had to cope with during the pandemic and the incredible performance they put in. Kemi bioproduct mill is a great example of close cooperation and the achievement of common goals.” says Oksanen.

This article was originally published in Fibre Magazine issue 2022–2023.

Metsä Fibre’s new bioproduct mill is the most efficient wood-processing plant in the northern hemisphere. The mill will start up in Q3 / 2023.