Stora Enso and Valmet have a long history of working for better results at the Veitsiluoto Mill. The cooperation has brought benefits ranging from economies of scale to joint innovation, and helped the mill to improve their production capabilities over time.
Stora Enso’s Veitsiluoto Mill in Kemi, Finland, is the world’s northernmost paper mill and among the largest paper and paperboard mills in Europe. Located in the Bothnian Bay, the mill ships around 850,000 tonnes of paper annually. Veitsiluoto Mill is Valmet’s biggest seamed press felt customer, but it’s also an important partner in many other ways.
Veitsiluoto Mill and Valmet have a long history of trust. In 2013, Valmet and Stora Enso signed the first TCO Agreement (Total Cost of Ownership) for paper machine clothing. The agreement includes the fixed-fee delivery as required of paper machine clothing like press felts and forming fabrics.
The agreement, currently effective until 2022, was renewed earlier this year and it includes PM 2 and PM 3.
“The TCO agreement is care-free and lets us reallocate some of our resources – Valmet is responsible for the warehouse and the whole order/delivery process. The agreement is also economical. Our inventory value for paper machine clothing is zero: We know the monthly fee and can budget accurately. We also benefit pricewise from the high total volume of our purchase,” explains Production Director Janne Sihvo from Stora Enso.
According to Sihvo, the cooperation between Veitsiluoto Mill and Valmet is a lot more than an agreement on paper.
“Over the years, we’ve developed an open and trusting relationship which enables development and growth for us both. Valmet has reacted well to our constantly changing requirements, and together we’ve searched for answers in challenging situations. I value the straightforward manner in which our Valmet contact person Juha Heikinmatti takes care of us – sometimes it’s difficult to remember whose coat he’s actually wearing,” Sihvo winks.
Heikinmatti is equally thankful for the smooth cooperation.
“I dare to say that our efforts here at Veitsiluoto have benefited Valmet’s R&D on many fronts. The people at Veitsiluoto Mill are always ready to discuss and test new products. I feel we’re trusted. I used to work at the mill myself, so I’m familiar with the machines and the mentality here – an absolute asset,” Heikinmatti says.
“Over the years, we’ve developed an open and trusting relationship, which enables development and growth for both of us.”
Valmet has been investing in the development of seamed press felts for a long time. In the last few years, Valmet has further improved the seam area and developed special tools to ease seaming.
Originally, the seamed press felts were introduced as a game-changer for occupational safety. Easy installation is also a key benefit: Replacing a seamed press felt with a new one takes one or two hours by two or three people. Changing the traditional press felt can be done in three or five hours, and more people are needed.
At Veitsiluoto Mill, the seamed press felts were first tested position by position at the start of the millennium. PM 2 and PM 3 gradually started to use the seamed press felts after 2010, and today, the traditional endless press felts are no longer in use. PM 5 has followed, and seamed press felts have now been in use for several years.
The start-up has not been totally trouble-free, but the challenges have been overcome one by one.
“Each press unit in each paper machine has its individual character, demanding a lot from the press felts. The challenges have been related to web breaks caused by the seam area. Together, we’ve searched for the root causes, and Valmet has further developed the seam area and felt structure. The effort has paid off, and we wouldn’t change back to using traditional press felts,” Sihvo says.
To succeed, you have to find ways to improve your business on a permanent basis. For example, at Veitsiluoto, the machines are operated with a steadily increasing speed – placing extra pressure on seamed press felt development.
“I’m satisfied with our cooperation. Valmet has always looked after our requirements and wishes. Challenges are part of the game, and how you face them matters. I can believe Valmet wants to be number one in what they do, just as we want to be the best in papermaking,” Sihvo concludes.
TEXT Marianne Valta
PHOTOS Marianne Valta and Stora Enso
Article published in Forward magazine 2/2019.