Finally, it was over to the west coast and a visit with EV Group. Established by a group of former Tampella employees when Metso took over that company in 1992, EV now enjoys an annual turnover of about Euro 4 million. For 2013, the hopes are for 10-15% growth and CEO and sales director Timo Haverinen said prospects look good. In particular, Haverinen said the company expects about 50% of its business to come from Germany.
The company concentrates its efforts in three areas: runnability, energy efficiency and cleanliness. EV has a small pilot machine in Kotka where it develops new products. The company specializes in tailor-made rebuilds. Among recent projects are a Sappi rebuild at its Nijmegen mill in the Netherlands, IP Svetogorsk on a copy paper machine, Sappi's Somerset, ME, mill and SCA Ortviken, Sweden.
The company has installed more than 1,300 of its EVdf Web Stabilizers and EVpv Pocket Ventilators. It does supply parts to several smaller paper machine manufacturers. Haverinen explained that by closing the open draw length between the press section and dryer on a paper machine to about 15 mm, less tension is needed and if less tension is needed, strength is no longer an issue and perhaps some high-cost fiber can be substituted.
The EV Heat RecoveryTMsystem recovers up to 60% of dryer section heat energy. The EV exchanger is a plate type, not tube, so it is easy to clean. A system installed at the Arjo Wiggins Dalum Papir (Denmark) mill helped it win a PPI Award in 2011.
The EV MRS mist removal system combines mist removal with fabric cleaning. The EV Trim Booster prevents edge trims following pickup felts. It uses compressed air to create a vacuum below the wire and keeps trims in contact with the fabric. A relatively new offering, there are four installations.
The EV ReDoc is a brush system that continuously keeps dryer cans (and other rotating surfaces) clean of contaminants. There are about 50 installations on various paper grades. It has even been tested on calender rolls with success.
P&W papers to become extinct
It was back to Helsinki to wrap up the trip and a visit to the Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF). Forests cover 70% of Finland's land mass and are growing at the rate of about 100 million m3/yr. The harvest is about 55 million m3annually. A further 11 million m3/yr are taken up by biomass and home use.
There has been a big structural change in the Finnish forest products industry over the past five years, partly due to overcapacity, but the industry is still very important to the country. Production value is more than Euro 20 billion of which more than Euro 11 billion is exported. Of Finland's 10 largest export items, forest products account for four of them, for example, coated paper and paperboard with a value of Euro 4.1 billion is number two on the list.
The bioeconomy is the hope for the future: bioenergy, packaging, composites, medications/well being products, green chemicals, biopolymers and bioplastics. "Everything made from oil can be made from wood,' said Antro Säilä, senior vice president, business environment and innovation.
The history of the forest products industry in Finland has been one of renewal and re-invention, dating back to the 1700s, "creative destruction" Säilä called it. He added that sooner or later, even printing and writing papers will become extinct.
Already, he noted, there are many new products coming out of the Finnish forest products industry: moldable plywood, wood plastic composites, intelligent packaging, biodiesel.
The objective of the national research strategy is to double the value of the forest products cluster by 2030 and have 50% of that value come from new products, hardly the mindset of a "sunset" industry. Production and consumption will shift non-renewables to renewable. However, one issue the industry faces is the push by politicians to make legislation before solutions are found.
The final stop was at the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla). Director general Hannu Raitzio noted that the industry is living in challenging times and that the need for research results has increased dramatically.
Founded in 1917 (when Finland gained its independence), Metsa has approximately 800 employees with facilities spread across the country. Its four areas of work are forest-based enterprises and business activities; forests and the community; sustainable silviculture; and, the forest economy and forest environmental-based knowledge.
Various research programs include ForestEnergy 2020, Futures forests and forest management, as well as joint programs done with businesses and universities.
Metla is purely a government research organization but it is working with its own clients more and more. A change in Finland's research structure and funding means Metla will merge with other research organizations in 2015. This will be both a challenge and a new opportunity for Metla.
The economic crisis that hit Europe in recent years continues to affect the Finnish forest products industry. In the short term, Yrjö Sevola, senior researcher, forest statistics information service, said Finnish exports of forest products should decrease as will the industry's production and profitability.
Domestic residential construction is also expected to fall in 2013 so sawn wood demand and production should also drop. However, sawn wood exports should increase this year. Better times are expected in 2014.