The builders of the bioproduct mill: Construction Manager Pekka Salomaa

“We've been successful in sticking to the schedules.”

A professional of large-scale industrial construction projects does not take for granted having only a 30-minute drive home after finishing the day's work. That is precisely why Pekka Salomaa (60), the Construction Manager of Metsä Group's bioproduct mill, finds his job at Äänekoski so welcome.

“I came to this project straight from Uruguay, where I was involved in the Fray Bentos mill project, among other things. Given that I had spent a good seven years abroad, the news about the new bioproduct mill at Äänekoski was a pleasant surprise,” says Salomaa, who lives in Jyväskylä.

The news about the new mill at Äänekoski was a pleasant surprise.

Together with his crew, Salomaa, who works for Fimpec Oy, which specialises in industrial investments and project management services for public construction projects, has been integrated into Metsä Fibre's organisation. Even his business card currently carries the name of Metsä Fibre.

“Our construction team is made up of 26 people. Through our extensive network, we have been successful in our efforts to find the top professionals we need for this project.”

For Salomaa himself, a structural engineer by training, Äänekoski represents the fourth pulp mill project he has been involved in.

“In Finland, I was already involved in Metsä Fibre's Rauma mill project in the 1990s. I've also been familiar with the Äänekoski mill area since the time the Äänekoski power plant was built in the early 2000s.”

“The flight from Uruguay to Finland landed at 3:00 p.m., and by 4:00 p.m. I was in a meeting with Project Manager Timo Merikallio,” says Pekka Salomaa, looking back on the project's early days three years ago. Photo: Metsä Group

A project that spans a hundred building contracts

At Äänekoski, Salomaa's team is responsible for the smooth completion of 1.2 million square metres of construction. The vast project must be carried out in an area that houses the still fully operational existing pulp mill as well as the power plant of Äänevoima.

“Whereas the mill at Fray Bentos had 150 hectares of undeveloped land, over here we have to fit everything into a 40-hectare area. This poses special challenges in laying underground pipes, for example.”

The procurement for the construction project has been divided into roughly a hundred different contracts. Successfully coordinating these is among Salomaa's most important and, at the same time, most difficult tasks. The work has been made easier by the competent contractors found for the project. Schedules have been followed successfully.

“The schedules largely revolve around the completion of the recovery boiler. Once that's finished, we'll have steam and can get the turbines running, at which point we will be able to conduct tests.”

The schedules largely revolve around the completion of the recovery boiler.

The pulp mill's bridge crane was mounted in the end of February, after which the project can progress to equipment installation.

“The construction of the new effluent treatment plant began in March. It includes massively demanding work phases, since these structures are built beneath the lake's surface.”

The construction of the new effluent treatment plant began in March. The work requires meticulous planning, since structures will also be built beneath the surface of the Kuhnamojärvi lake. Photo: Metsä Group

Information technology increases productivity

During Pekka Salomaa's long career, the technology used in construction has taken giant leaps.

“In excavation and pile driving work, for example, we are able to rely on GPS and 3D modelling. In comparison to traditional methods, they give a whole new meaning to the word ‘efficiency’.”

Information technology is also a great help in management work, even if the flood of emails can be daunting at times.

“On-site management has moved to web-based systems. Site diaries and quality documentation likewise function over the network. Even the construction supervision organisation can monitor the project through digital channels.”

“Going to the gym at the weekends, playing golf in the summer,” says Pekka Salomaa when listing things that help him get through working days that are sometimes as long as 12 hours. Photo: Metsä Group

Pekka Salomaa (60)
Place of residence: Jyväskylä.
Job: Construction Manager of the bioproduct mill, CEO of Fimpec Oy.
Career: Diverse construction and development commissions (office and commercial buildings) as well as project management duties in the forest sector's paper and pulp industry projects and in power plant projects.
Education: Structural engineer.
Family: Wife, three children and four grandchildren.
Hobbies: Reading, light physical activities and golf in the summer.


The builders of the bioproduct mill is a new series of articles that introduces readers to the people bringing the next-generation bioproduct mill to life and describing their work in the biggest investment in the history of the Finnish forest industry. The builders of the bioproduct mill will be published on our website at during the first half of 2016.

Project Director Timo Merikallio was intervieweed in the first article.

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