Kemi bioproduct mill has the safest and most efficient logistics chain in the field

The increasing production volumes in Kemi call for efficient, reliable, and seamless logistics. The bioproduct mill’s transports are efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly from the forest to the customer. New technology and automation are used for unloading wood, as well as for transporting pulp bales.
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  • 2023, Kemi bioproductmill

Once Kemi bioproduct mill comes online, it will receive daily calls from nine wood-carrying trains and around 250 articulated lorries, 180 of which will be transporting wood.

“We want to keep transport and storage times as short as possible in the procurement and supply chains. The goal is to direct the bulk of incoming logs straight to production. The pulp bales produced will then be carried by conveyors to extra-long HCT (High Capacity Transport) trucks, which run to the Port of Kemi on a 24/7 basis”, says Pasi Pulkkinen, VP, Land Logistics at Metsä Group.

Transport and storage times are as short as possible in the procurement and supply chains.

Separate routes for trains and motor vehicles

Larger transport and raw material volumes require new solutions, especially for road and rail arrangements in the mill area. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will lengthen and electrify two rail tracks in the Kemi depot and a new section of track will be built at the north side of the railway yard.

It will be connected to the electrified private track built by Metsä Fibre, allowing the use of electric locomotives to haul wood. Transport safety will improve when trains no longer intersect with other traffic.

“Around two thirds of the wood flow arrives at the mill by train, and the rest is transported by road. Heavy traffic, the mill’s passenger traffic and train traffic will be safely assigned to separate routes.”

The increasing volumes have spurred a search for new solutions and technology. The woodyard is equipped with electrically powered autonomous mobile overhead cranes; lorries and trains carrying wood drive straight under them. In practice, the cranes handle unloading independently.

“We have worked with VR, the state railway company, to create an efficient transport concept for incoming wood. A full train of wagons can be unloaded in two hours. One lorry takes nine to twelve minutes to unload.”

Pulp bales move smoothly to the port

The logistics of outgoing goods have also been redesigned. Pulp deliveries from the mill to the Port of Ajos, 15 kilometres away, are handled by Kuljetusliike Kalevi Huhtala Oy, a road transport company. There are normally three biodiesel HCT trucks operating round the clock.

“We can transport 72 tonnes of pulp in a single delivery, which is around 1.5 times the load carried by a conventional lorry. This decreases the carbon footprint of these transports by 30 per cent,” says Pulkkinen.

At the Port of Ajos, the pulp bales end up in a product warehouse covering 37,000 square metres, which was specifically constructed for the new bioproduct mill and offers fully fossil free, environmentally friendly operations. All the warehouse’s forklift operations and its loading fleet are electrified.

In the port, the bales are moved to a conveyor, and forklifts transfer them to the warehouse, where an electric crane loads them onto ships. Ideally, there is no need for traditional interim storage, as goods move almost continuously.

Pulkkinen describes it as both challenging and rewarding to design and construct such a smooth logistics chain.

“We have worked hard to design and implement everything down to the very last detail, in close cooperation with the City of Kemi, the Port of Kemi, the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency and our logistics partners. An efficient logistics chain helps us ensure reliable deliveries to our customers around the world.”

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.

A boost for all of northern Finland

The decision to construct the bioproduct mill was welcome news to the Port of Kemi which responded with extensive development investments.

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency will deepen the sea lane in Ajos to 12 metres, and the port basin will be dredged to make it more suitable for large vessels. A new 400-metre pier will be constructed in the harbour, and considerable investment will be made in infrastructure and digital systems. The value of the investment is nearly 50 million euros, and a total of 13.6 million has been received in EU funding.

Markku Rautio, CEO of the Port of Kemi, says the port will now become one of Finland’s best in terms of its service level and quality. It will also highlight Kemi’s position as the logistics hub of northern Finland and a gateway to export markets.

“The modernised port will provide vitality throughout northern Finland, and the bioproduct mill has been an important driver in this respect. These investments would not have been made if the mill had not been constructed.”

Matti Ruotsalainen, Mayor of Kemi, points out that construction of the bioproduct mill will ensure the continuity of the city’s forest industry tradition, which spans more than a century.

“Kemi bioproduct mill will provide brand new opportunities to develop the forest industry, future products, and education and training in the field. It will also strengthen Kemi’s position as a circular economy cluster and forerunner, as well as a convenient testing platform for new forest industry products.”