Valmet celebrates 90 years in China

Dec 13, 2023

Valmet’s history in China dates to 1933, when KMW, which later became part of Valmet, received its first paper machine delivery order for Guangzhou Paper. Valmet has since established an extensive sales, service and manufacturing network in the country, serving the pulp, paper and energy, marine, and oil and gas industries. Throughout the year, we have invited our employees, customers and other stakeholders to celebrate Valmet’s 90 years in China – please join us!

We are proud to say that over 90 years, Valmet has grown to be a home for more than 2,300 employees in six production units, five service centers, two technology centers, six sales offices and a performance center in China.

“During that time, we’ve delivered about 20 percent of tissue paper production capacity, more than 40 percent of paper and board production capacity, and around 50 percent of virgin pulp production capacity to the Chinese market. At the same time, we’ve contributed to the sustainable development of China’s pulp and paper industry through our technological expertise, promoting a better life with our customers and other stakeholders,” explains Zhu Xiangdong, Area President, China.

Strong localization leads to success

Valmet has been one of the pioneering Western companies in China. The first paper machine deliveries took place in 1933 and 1956, and the first joint venture, Valmet-Xi’an Paper Machinery, was established in 1989. Other milestones have been the establishment of the first Sales Office in 1997 in Beijing, the first Service Center in 2001 in Wuxi, and the first logistics center in 2003 in the WaiGaoQiao free trade zone in Shanghai.

“Having a strong local presence across China has enabled us to build close relationships with our key customers. It’s been one of the cornerstones of our success over the years and is something we still consider important today. Other key factors in Valmet’s growth are strong local competence development and the world’s leading technology offering,” Zhu says.

The theme of the media event at the China International Paper Technology Exhibition and Conference was “Together towards sustainable pulp and paper industry in China”.

Growing with the Chinese economy

China’s economy has been the world’s fastest growing economy since the 1990s. For Valmet’s customer industries, this has meant continuous investment in new production capacity.

“Only in 2022, we delivered 12 tissue production lines, six giant paper and board production lines, and four pulp lines, as well as several machine rebuilds and some single sections in China. We are the number one player in the paper industry and are also in the top two in the virgin pulp industry. The energy segment has been a minor part of our business so far, but I believe there is huge growth potential for Valmet’s energy solutions and emission control services in the Chinese market,” Zhu says. 

Driving for a sustainable future

The Chinese market is changing after three decades of steady growth. Paper and board makers are not looking for volume increases but are striving for energy efficiency, process improvements and cost savings instead.

“Sustainability and digitalization are currently the main drivers in the paper and board industry, and as we know, Valmet’s readiness to respond to these needs with our innovative technologies is excellent. We continue to take care of our customers’ installed base with our lifecycle services – improving their process, raw material and energy efficiency at the same time,” Zhu says.

In dialogue with stakeholders

Valmet has organized several stakeholder events to celebrate Valmet’s commitment to the Chinese market. We have visited industry universities, invited our customers and suppliers in various seminars and get-togethers, organized an open dialogue event for the media at China International Paper Technology Exhibition and Conference (CIPTE), and finally, hosted a gala dinner for the industry’s key players at the China Paper Industry Chamber of Commerce (CPICC) annual event.

The China International Paper Technology Exhibition and Conference was organized in Shanghai in August 2023, and offered an exceptional opportunity for open dialogue with the media. Chairing the event was Li Jiawei, deputy editor-in-chief of China Pulp and Paper Industry Magazine.

The highlight of the stakeholder events was the gala dinner at China Paper Industry Chamber of Commerce annual event, that brought together over 500 industry key players to celebrate.

According to Li Jiawei, Valmet’s presence in China has been very significant for the country’s entire paper industry.

“Over the past few decades, Valmet has cooperated closely with the industry media, increasing awareness of advanced pulp and paper technologies and operational concepts in the industry. Similarly, Valmet has shown the results of China’s industrial development to the world, contributing to the progress of the industry as a whole,” Li Jiawei said.

Jiang Peng, General Manager of the Global Technology Center at APP, said he appreciates Valmet’s ability to bring stakeholders together.

“Valmet’s strong technological innovation and integration capabilities are convincing. I look forward to the future cooperation with the industry stakeholders. It is what we need to achieve carbon neutrality through more new technologies, digitalization and intelligent manufacturing within the traditional paper industry,” he said. 

Celebrating internally within Valmet

The milestone ‘Valmet 90 years in China’ has been promoted through various activities within Valmet. The Valmeteers in China have for example been invited to share their stories and pictures about working at Valmet, to participate in Valmet 90 years quiz to win prizes and in running events at different Valmet locations. Valmeteers’ children were invited to participate in a drawing competition “Valmet in my eyes”.

Lianfeng Zhao, Assembly Team Leader, Shanghai Production

“I have been working at Valmet for 15 years, and time has passed in the blink of an eye. I’m proud to have witnessed the growth of Valmet. As a Valmeteer, I have been fortunate to work with truly amazing people, and grateful for everything I have experienced.”

Li Shen, Assembly Supervisor, Shanghai Production:

“I became a Valmeteer 34 years ago in 1989. Valmet was my first, and so far, fortunately the only employer. During my career, I have worked as a turner, welder, planner and lastly as workshop manager. I think I’m a great example of how Valmet encourages and supports its employees towards new opportunities. This was my first job and the company to which I aspired to devote my entire career.”

Alice Yao, Senior Logistics Engineer, Guangzhou Service Center:

“I joined Valmet three years after my graduation in 2007 when the Service Center in Guangzhou was established. Looking back these 19 years, being part of Valmet has played an enormous role in molding me into the person I am today.”