The job of a product development laboratory manager has an interesting dynamic: they work with product development specialists to make better plywood products, but also look for weaknesses in the same products. In Lahti, Finland, laboratory manager Minna Lindroos organises product development in her product development laboratory, managing human and equipment resources. The team has five testing engineers and technicians who are competent in nearly a hundred standardised testing methods.
“Mill labs mainly handle process quality control and CE testing. Product development and bending strength testing have been consolidated in Lahti. We have superb facilities, methods and testing equipment, which are inspected and calibrated by third parties every year. It is important for me personally that our testing is reliable. Even some of our customers use our services,” says Minna.
Broad cooperation is at the heart of product development
Cooperation with other UPM experts and the UPM North European Research Centre (NERC) located in Lappeenranta, Finland, is naturally part of the work. The NERC focuses on developing the production processes of various industries, customer support and technical services.
Minna finds it easy to work with paper mills and Raflatac, who produce laminates, as she was a paper mill process engineer in the mid-00s. Minna holds an MSE in chemical engineering.
“We test new features, materials, components and process conditions. Our pilot hall can be used for industrial-scale trial runs before actual trials at mills. One example of our work is the WISA BioBond adhesion technology, which replaces oil-based phenol with eco-friendly lignin,” says Minna.
In addition to her role as a laboratory manager, she heads the virtual team of UPM Plywood’s mill laboratory supervisors. The team discusses shared issues, such as procurement and contracts.
“Our work is specifically geared to the needs and wishes of our customers. Positive feedback and successful extensive test sets and new product launches are very rewarding. For example, it was a great experience to participate in the creation of UPM Grada, which was developed for the furniture and interior decoration industry,” says Minna, who enjoys organising and working with people.
Our new Behind the Scenes article series offers a glimpse into modern plywood production and introduces professionals across a variety of roles at UPM Plywood.