UPM’s plywood mill in Joensuu, Finland produces WISA birch plywood for two main end-uses: as floor panels for trailers, and as insulation components for tanker vessels used to transport liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Juha Varis works in the refining department, from which LNG plywood goes to be packed and sent out into the world. As an LNG sorter, Juha works with his team to ensure that the product, which will serve as material for the double-bottoms of LNG gas takers, is made of high-quality plywood cut to the customerʼs precise specifications.
If the processing department does its job well, this will significantly impact the millʼs overall cost-effectiveness. The capable eyes and hands of the departmentʼs personnel do the work that even the best machinery or cameras cannot yet do.
”We re-sort the boards and visually check them to ensure that the surface veneers are flawless. At this stage, we can also utilise the best pieces of the boards that have developed ruptures or depressions during the production process”, Juha describes.
Every day, the refining departmentʼs personnel process and inspect 15 to 20 cubic metres of plywood. They also ensure that orders are filled, and that customers get exactly what they ordered. High-quality LNG plywood can have a 40-50 year career as part of the transport of liquefied natural gas.
Precision of products, freedom in work
Juha is very committed to his work at UPM. He started at the company as a summer employee in 1985, as part of forestry school and his studies in commerce. Over the course of his career, he has worked in different stages of the plywood production process; at one point, he also worked on exchange at a mill in Estonia.
“Weʼve been able to take part in customer visits, to deepen our understanding of what quality means to our customers, and the further stages of processing that the plywood products we make go through. I also provide orientations to new employees, and train several people over the course of the year. I feel satisfied with how my career has progressed”, Juha says.
Although the quality and dimensions of LNG plywood are precisely regulated, Juha feels a level of freedom in his job.
”I’m the master of my own work: I make independent decisions on the basis of the instructions given, together with my team, so that we can provide the best service to the customer. The importance of our interactions has grown over the years. We have a great group of people here – one that allows me to excel”, Juha adds.
Our new Behind the Scenes article series introduces people working for UPM Plywood and provides a glimpse into modern plywood production.