LapWall, a manufacturer of prefabricated wood elements, is a forerunner in timber construction

Wood element construction has several significant advantages over traditional on-site construction. It lowers carbon emissions during construction, element prefabrication indoors reduces possible moisture damage during the construction phase and the finished elements can be installed in place in almost any weather conditions. In addition to the cost-effective logistics of prefabricated elements, the overall time on the construction site is significantly reduced.
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  • Kerto LVL, Offsite construction

Construction companies have traditionally manufactured elements by themselves for their own company need. But the idea of Jarmo Pekkarinen, the founder and CEO of LapWall, was different - according to him, the only way for a wood element factory to succeed was to sell elements to all construction companies. LapWall was founded on this idea, and the company was the first manufacturer of wooden elements to serve all construction companies in Finland. The company has been a pioneer in prefabricated wood construction for more than 10 years.

LapWall's philosophy is to produce structurally standardised elements and the company has published a free-to-use publication, which contains guidelines and explanations of how the elements are joined together. "The market for timber elements grew rapidly when we created such a standard. It is now used by our competitors," says Pekkarinen.

From the very beginning, LapWall was based on the idea that the huge potential of the construction sector can be achieved through efficient wood element construction. "The main thing for us was to make the operation an efficient and high-quality industrial operation. This required a standard product range as well as and standardised design solutions, a 3D CAD/CAM design system and production automation," says Pekkarinen.

Consistent quality is important

LapWall uses Metsä Wood's Kerto® LVL laminated veneer lumber in its elements, and the company is one of Metsä Wood's most important prefabricator customers. Pekkarinen praises the cooperation between the companies. "It is important for us that the wood products arrive at our factory in ordered quantity and that they are of equal quality. These criteria are excellently met and our cooperation has been excellent."

Kerto LVL products are particularly suitable for prefabrication. This is because processing and use of Kerto LVL is simple and require only normal tools. Kerto LVL is also extremely material-efficient; it is needed less in volume compared to other wood materials and and can be used to manufacture light hollow core floor and roof elements. 

Modern industry is based on keeping inventories to a minimum so that they don't tie up a company's cash. This requires that the right quantities of raw materials are brought to the factory at the right time. "We play with small stocks too, so it's important that delivery comes when promised. And that's how Metsä works," says Pekkarinen. He says that you can discuss everything with Metsä Wood, which is one of the key factors of a fruitful cooperation. The companies have a common history too: in 2017, LapWall bought Metsä Wood's Pälkäne factory, where Metsä Wood's wood element factory and project business were located. Currently, LapWall manufactures roof elements in Pälkäne and Veteli and wall elements in Pyhäntä.

Pekkarinen says that a big advantage of element prefabrication is that it takes place indoors in warm conditions. This reduces moisture damage during the construction phase. The prefabricated elements can be installed in almost any weather, with only strong winds preventing installation. "This is a completely superior method compared to on-site built roofs. The overall lead time for large construction sites is reduced by four months."

Freight costs and carbon emissions become more important

Customers are increasingly interested in the freight costs of elements. Due to the light weight of wood elements, they can fit much more in a truckload than concrete elements. Pekkarinen estimates that one truck can carry around 40-50 square metres of precast concrete elements at a time. "Our loads contain up to 400 square metres of wooden elements. We optimise our loads to bring freight costs down and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint of our transport."

Pekkarinen also says that prefabricated construction reduces carbon dioxide emissions during construction. "This is because element prefabrication is more efficient in the use of building materials, resulting in less waste. And the waste can be 100% recycled." Customers are becoming increasingly concerned about carbon dioxide emissions, and LapWall has already supplied elements to construction projects that require an environmental product declaration. The more these requirements grow, the more interest there will be in wood construction due to the higher carbon dioxide emissions of alternative construction materials such as steel reinforced concrete. Pekkarinen believes that wood construction will increase and that this will also be reflected in Lapwall's operations. "We are constantly developing new products and designing modern assembly lines. We will make big investments in the coming years, and we are sure that they will also use Kerto LVL in the future."

Founded in 2011, LapWall has grown in just over ten years to become Finland's leading prefabrication manufacturer. The company has manufactured elements for all kinds of construction projects including public and residential buildings, schools and daycares, sport facilities and industrial buildings. The company's turnover in 2021 was EUR 36 million and in 2022 it will rise to around EUR 50 million thanks to growth and acquisitions.