In October last year, UPM announced a €50 million plan to expand the UPM Plywood Chudovo Mill. Expected to be finished by the end of 2019, the project is proceeding right on schedule.
“We have moved from the construction phase to machine fitting. There are 18 machinery line handing over in total, and installation in over half of these lines is going at full speed. We’ll be able to make use of the additional capacity as scheduled,” Mika Kekki, Vice President, Production & Operations, UPM Plywood, observes. The project will raise the plant’s capacity by 45 000 cubic metres to 155 000 cubic metres annually and add new products to its portfolio.
The project also provided an opportunity to switch the mill’s fuel source from fossil-based to a biothermal power plant. “UPM’s investment means we can use more wood by-products as an energy source. We estimate gas consumption will go from 80 per cent down to 30,” Kekki reveals.
With teamwork, it’s business as usual
A project of this size naturally involves numerous contractors. By the most recent count, up to 300 contractors were working on-site. That production hasn’t come to a stop is a testament to the teamwork at the heart of the project. “We are grateful to the project team, to the people on the factory floor and to UPM Plywood personnel for their cooperation. Because of them, production didn’t suffer and customer orders were sent out as planned.”
Kekki also noted that the project was a success from a safety perspective. Safe practices while working at height and implementing other safety procedures are always prioritised. “We’ve received good results from the safety audit. There have been no accidents, partly because we addressed issues we observed during the early days of the project.”
UPM customers played a huge role in getting the project approved, Kekki points out. “It is because of our customers’ trust in UPM that these kinds of project get green-lighted. We’re happy not only that demand for WISA-plywood is growing, but also that we can meet our customers’ needs better.”