Following many months of preparatory work for owners Mike Swift and Anders Olenius, the first phase of their joint project, rotary-cut veneer production, has just commenced at Interflex.

The pair purchased the Junckers veneer factory in Denmark in August last year and the task of stripping down the plant and shipping the whole assembly to Lithuania began a month later. Using a combination of trailers and ships the factory was brought to the Interflex site at Vilkyciai, 30km from the port of Klaipeda.

Major site preparations were required to take the massive veneer peeling, drying and clipping lines. New roads and increased utilities had to be added to the existing production facilities to cope with construction of the additional 10,000m² new steel-framed production building.

The second phase of the project involves the installation of two 8×4 Siempelkamp 33-daylight plywood press lines. Plywood production is due to begin early next month.

Phase three involves the installation of veneer slicing equipment, with production due to start in January 2002. Annual production capacity is planned at 5 million m² and the main species will be birch, beech, oak, ash and pine.

The combined annual production capacity will be a total of 100,000m³ of rotary-cut and sliced veneers and 8×4 plywood. Raw materials will comprise locally sourced birch, pine, spruce and alder as well as imported beech from Denmark, Slovakia and Ukraine. Special lightweight plywood will be produced from local aspen.

One of the most interesting asapcts of the new mill is the installation of a locally-produced woodwaste burning boiler of 5MW output. The boiler will consume all the bark and waste clippings from the factory and produce pressurised hot water at 150OC to run the driers and the steaming pits, as well as supplying heat for the rest of the factory.

The steaming pits are not the traditional lagoon type – Interflex has designed its own involving a series of 25m-long closed chambers into which hot water is pumped and circulated to ‘cook’ the logs prior to peeling. This system has a major energy saving advantage compared with the traditional method.

Glue kitchen

A new fully-automated glue kitchen has been installed for the preparation of both phenol and urea formaldehyde resins. Phenol resin will be imported but urea resins will be sourced from a local producer.

One of the plywood presses is specially equipped to produce very thin plywood of 2.5-3mm as well as film-faced/laminated plywood – products which generate a great deal of buying interest.

The two RFR peeling lines give a high degree of flexibility in terms of the size and thickness of veneer produced. Lengths from 1-2.6m and thicknesses from 0.6- 4mm can be produced, depending on species.

The Hildebrand mesh drier has a capacity of 6m³ per hour, which is sufficient for the planned production volume for year one.

Space is already allocated for a second drier, which will be a roller type with a capacity of 7m³ per hour.

Jointing line

A new addition to the factory is the Fischer-Efa veneer jointing line, which is a line for the glue-jointing of peeled or sliced veneer. Pine veneer peeled at 3mm or 4mm can be jointed to produce what is, in effect, a thin glulam panel.

Interflex employs 198, most of whom work in the existing furniture factory, but this will rise to 275 when plywood production reaches full capacity in October. Interflex is fortunate in having easy access to a well-educated and skilled workforce in Lithuania. Salaries are in the region of £200-250 per month.

A small percentage of the veneer and plywood output will be used in the furniture factory for the production of bed components – Interflex is a major producer of electrically adjustable bed frames and children’s furniture.

As far as marketing is concerned, the development of this new mill has generated a tremendous amount of interest around the world. The bulk of the production, however, will be placed in western Europe and Scandinavia.

Delegations from Japan have visited the mill during construction and plans are in place to install a 6×3 press to meet Japanese market requirements.

Interest has also come from North America and sales trips to the US have already taken place.


Interflex is in close contact with the Lithuanian forestry organisations to ensure continuity of supply of logs from well-managed forests. Two of the state forest enterprises will obtain Forest Stewardship Council certification this summer. Interflex will also be certified for FSC chain of custody and the supply of FSC-certified products is a priority.

Similarly, the company has begun to achieve ISO 9002 for the production and administration processes.

There has been much discussion about the certification of construction grade plywood in the UK. Interflex is contracting one of the main UK certification organisations to ensure that the production of softwood plywood from the new mill will be certified to the necessary quality standards, thereby giving customers the assurance of a consistent reliable quality product.