At the UPM Plywood head office in Lahti, Finland, the focus is strictly on the future. The product development team is tasked with developing durable and safe plywood products to suit the needs of customers. Product development specialist and D. Sc. (Tech.) Anna Koski wrote her doctoral dissertation on the use of tall oil in wood protection. She has applied and developed her skills at UPM for almost twenty years.
“Among other things, we are working to improve the durability of plywood, for example its decay, moisture and fire protection,” says Anna, who works as the project manager for product development.
Anna takes particular pride in WISA-SpruceFR, which is a total solution for increasingly stringent fire safety requirements.
“WISA-SpruceFR received the highest fire-resistance rating possible for wood materials. It also possesses excellent mechanical properties. A single product can be used to replace different materials, making construction easier and more cost-effective,” says Anna, pleased by the success following years of development.
Safety is paramount in Anna’s work. Products must remain safe at every stage in their life cycle from production to machining and end use.
The development of better products takes seamless interaction between different stakeholders. The product development team works closely with the laboratory, product managers and plywood mills. They also collaborate with external research and testing institutes. Having dialogue with sales and marketing is important, especially when products enter their commercialisation stage. Last but not least is the feedback from customers and end users, which may also trigger the development of an entirely new product.
“Development means constant research and seeking out and applying new information. The variety and intellectual challenges of the work are fascinating! At its best, product development can solve a customer’s problems in advance,” says Anna.
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.