This spring is a cause for celebration, as Koskisen’s chipboard mill reached a milestone of a total of three million cubic metres of chipboard produced.
The first million milestone was reached in 1998 and the second in 2008. In 2015, when the mill celebrated forty years of operations, its total output was a little over two and a half million, and sights were firmly set on reaching the next million milestone.
While inspecting the production volume tables at the end of 2017, Sami Santala, the Process Manager on the chipboard’s basic production line, was pleased to notice that three million cubic metres of chipboard production would be reached on the 11th of April.
“We have been keeping a log of production volumes since 1975, when the chipboard mill was founded. The log contains the production volumes for every year, down to the cubic metre. At the turn of the year, I noticed that we are very close to reaching the next milestone, and I calculated that we can expect to hit three million in the spring,” recounts Santala.
The occasion was celebrated among personnel with cake and coffee. The object of the celebration – i.e. the third millionth cubic metre – is destined for the furniture company Isku, an important strategic partner for Koskisen.
Three million cubic metres is quite an inconceivable amount. One truck can carry roughly 50 cubic metres of chipboard, which means approximately 60,000 truckloads of chipboard of have passed through Koskisen’s gates. If these trucks, measuring some 17 metres in length, were placed one after another, they would stretch from the city of Porvoo, in southern Finland, to Nuorgam, the northernmost village of Finland.
The three-million milestone is much more than simply a sum of raw materials. Head of Production Miikka Lehtinen stresses that this volume of chipboard is the result of the efforts of many generations. Even today, close to half of Koskisen’s employees have been committed to wood for more than 15 years. Within that time, they have managed to accrue tremendous expertise and skills – especially with their genuine passion for the industry.
“The chipboard team is so professional and competent that it amazes me every single day. They have no problem adapting to new developments when the situation calls for it. Everyone has a strong drive to do better and to give the customer exactly what they want and need,” says Lehtinen.
Santala, who has worked with chipboard for more than 20 years, agrees:
“We have had a very close-knit and dedicated team here, and they also seem to have an internal entrepreneurial spirit. I have always said that the people here are not so motivated by money as they are by a love for chipboard. They keep the mill running as if it were their own. And this mindset is apparent from the mill floor up.”
Juha Jalkanen, Director of Koskisen’s Panel Industry, believes that the four-million mark will be reached in less than ten years. So far, Koskisen’s annual chipboard production has been around 100,000 cubic metres, but even greater efficiency is envisaged for the future.
“Our next goal will be to look into the possibility of boosting production and improving the product even more. We continuously develop our products to be more environmentally friendly and to have higher-quality properties, but hopefully one day we will be able to say that we have also created something entirely new,” says Jalkanen.
At Koskisen, environmental friendliness has been an important aspect across the company’s operations. The chipboard mill, which was established in 1975 to make use of the sawmill’s and plywood mill’s by-products, has proved not only to be a good business, but in many ways also an environmentally sustainable choice.
Unnecessary haulage is eliminated, as all the necessary wood materials for chipboard are sourced directly from the mill area. With very little transfer and contact with contaminated surfaces, the raw material, i.e. sawdust, remains remarkably clean compared, for example, to the raw material of competing foreign chipboard.
Approximately five cubic metres of sawdust is compressed into one cubic metre of chipboard, and roughly 85 per cent of the entire board consists of wood material. Without the chipboard mill, a mountain of sawdust amounting to close to 15 million cubic metres would have ended up being combusted.
Chipboard mills in Finland have come and gone, but Koskisen’s mill has proved its staying power. Some half of the chipboard used in Finland comes from Koskisen.
Competition is not a concern, as production lines that flex to meet customer needs, speedy service, long-term customer relationships and industry expertise all guarantee that orders are placed with Koskisen again and again.
Jalkanen says the customer has an important role not just in terms of ensuring the continuity of chipboard production, but also in terms of its development. Selling solutions not only helps the customer but may also lead to breakthroughs in product development. Koskisen hopes customers are strongly involved in creating new solutions also going forward – well-tailored products that are perfectly suited to their purpose are in everyone’s best interest, and this has always been the direction the company has decisively taken.