The start-up phase of Metsä Group’s Äänekoski bioproduct mill has proceeded in an exemplary manner.
“The start-up has progressed in accordance with the start-up curve in terms of both production volume and quality. As planned, we are aiming for the mill to reach full production capacity a year from its start-up,” says Camilla Wikström, the manager of the bioproduct mill. Wikström has been appointed SVP, Production at Pulp Business of Metsä Fibre as of 1 January 2018. Ilkka Poikolainen is appointed VP, Mill Manager of Äänekoski bioproduct mill as of 1 January 2018.
Deliveries of pulp produced by the bioproduct mill to Metsä Fibre’s customers have been taking place since September.
“In terms of quality, we’ve achieved a very good basic level, and the customers have been happy with our products. The development work regarding quality is naturally continuing. Now that the mill is well up to speed, we can concentrate on it in earnest,” says Wikström.
Highly professional staff plays a key role
For the staff of the bioproduct mill, the past autumn has marked a hectic but also an exceptionally interesting period of time.
“Our highly professional and strongly committed staff have played a key role in the successful start-up. It has required flexibility from all of us, but together we’ve done a great job,” says Wikström, thanking the mill’s pulp professionals.
During the start-up phase, bioproduct mill has also been provided with additional resources from Metsä Fibre’s other mills whenever necessary.
“The interesting work tends to carry you away easily, and the days are sometimes pretty long, but in the middle of everything, it’s important to remember to take care of your own well-being and the well-being of your co-workers,” says Wikström.
Fine-tuning and searching for solutions
Right now, the staff of the bioproduct mill are actively looking for the optimum balance between the different departments in the production process. Some of the departments have already been handed over to Metsä Fibre, while representatives of equipment suppliers are still present at others.
“The departments may sometimes experience faults, and then we seek the right solutions together. Various kinds of adjustments and change work are a natural part of this phase. At the beginning of October, we had a two-day maintenance shutdown at the bioproduct mill, during which we carried out finalisation work related to the start-up phase and adjustments to hone the operating reliability of the mill process,” says Wikström.
According to her, the means of achieving the best results include openness and anticipation.
“The more actively we exchange information within the organisation and between different operators, the earlier we are able to react to any problems or bottlenecks in production.”
Safety at the new mill
Camilla Wikström is particularly happy about the fact that the bioproduct mill has been operating without problems since the very beginning, within the applicable environmental permit limits. She says that the three most important themes at the mill this year are safety, the environment and production.
“We had some small faults in production during the initial phase of the start-up, which caused odour nuisance and dust emissions. They were unfortunate, but luckily harmless to the environment.”
Special attention has also been paid to safety at work, since both the work environment and the operating methods at the bioproduct mill are new to everybody.