The labour dispute in the Finnish paper industry, which stopped production for about seven weeks in May and June, not only caused a loss of production of paper and paperboard but also negatively affected sawmills. When pulp mills stopped taking sawmills’ byproducts, production had to be cut back at sawmills.

According to figures issued by the Finnish Forest Industries Federation, sawn wood production totalled 2.8 million m3 in the second quarter of 2005, which was about 800,000m3 lower than the year before. However, plywood production remained about the same.

Overall, timber industry production fell by about 10% in the second quarter of 2005 and the production of pulp and paper by 50%, resulting in a 40% drop in the total forest industry production. The low price of sawn timber, especially pine, and the high price of pine logs used as raw material, continued to burden the profitability of the wood products industry.

Independent Finnish sawmills have been affected both by the labour dispute in the paper industry and the Swedish storm felling last winter. It has been estimated that the forest industry will purchase 7-8 million m3 less timber than anticipated this year. The Finnish Ministry of Finance has estimated that the dispute in the paper industry will have reduced the gross national product by €1.5bn and growth this year is expected to be reduced from the forecast 3% to 2%.

However, commenting on the outlook for the future, Stora Enso‘s CEO Jukka Härmälä pointed out that the new labour agreement in the pulp and paper industry, with its significant changes in labour practices such as production continuing during the midsummer and Christmas holidays and increased flexibility in outsourcing, would contribute to the long-term competitiveness of the Finnish forest products industry.

It is worth noting that Finnish forest industry companies currently have 40% of their paper production capacity in Finland and 60% in other countries.

UPM investments

UPM is investing a total of €3m in a surface treatment line at the Aureskoski TC mill and and another €3m in modernising the Heinola edge-glued panel production line. These investments are part of UPM’s strategy of increasing the degree of further processing in its timber products.

The new surface treatment line at the Aureskoski mill in Parkano, in the south-west of Finland, will allow efficient and versatile surface treatment of timber products in compliance with customer specifications. It will be completed by summer 2006.

The modernisation of the Heinola edge-glued panel production line, located in the south of Finland, is also due to be completed in summer 2006. It will increase Heinola’s production to 20,000m3.

The manufacture of forest machinery could double in Finland and 1,000-2,000 jobs should be created by the year 2020, according to a report entitled ‘Vision and roadmap 2020 in forest technology’ published on the internet by Metla, the Finnish Forest Research Institute. The report indicates that the increase in jobs will be most noticeable in eastern Finland. The global production of purpose-built forest machinery in 2020 is likely to be 6,000-8,000 machines, of which 4,000-5,000 will be manufactured in Finland.

To realise this vision, substantial research and development is needed in the transfer of technology to new markets, especially to Russia and South America. In addition, improvement of machine operator training and development of the man/machine interface and semi-automated machines must be solved in order to achieve the vision.

Development of forest machine markets also depends on the overall success and development of the forest sector, according to the report.

Finnforest has teamed up with internationally renowned Portuguese architects Álvaro Siza and Eduardo Souto de Moura and Cecil Balmond, deputy chairman of Arup, to build the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2005, the acclaimed annual architectural structure commissioned by the Serpentine Gallery in London’s Kensington Gardens (TTJ June 25/July 2).

In a series of interlocking timber trusses made from Finnforest Kerto Q LVL, a curvaceous form undulates across the lawn.

Finnforest made all the Kerto elements of the structure at its Kerto plants in Finland. These were cut to size at a Merk factory in Germany before close co-operation between Finnforest and Arup finally delivered the engineering solution that allowed the architects’ vision to be realised. Finnforest Merk also supplied the labour and construction management on site, thus demonstrating its complete package of capabilities. The construction period was April 11 to June 30 and dismantling will be carried out from October 3-30.