All WISA plywood products are made from wood raw materials sourced from sustainably managed forests. UPM Plywood's Wood Procurement Manager Pekka Pietilä, together with his team of nine people, ensures that the company's plywood mills in Finland are consistently supplied with the necessary raw materials to manufacture the products.
"We support the production of our plywood mills by measuring the wood, assessing the need for wood and organising the wood management at the mills. My job also involves working in a supervisory capacity," Pekka says.
In his role, Pekka collaborates with both production and quality control teams to guarantee an adequate supply of suitable raw materials. Currently, he is involved in developing timber measurements on UPM Pellos' wood grading line.
"The quality requirements for WISA plywood are high, so the raw material also has to be first class. The latest technology is used to measure the logs while respecting the traditional methods. X-rays on the log sorting line provide valuable information about the internal quality of the wood, but visual quality is equally important."
Pekka's weekly routine includes the so-called Lake Saimaa circumnavigation, i.e. visits to UPM's plywood mills in Joensuu, Savonlinna and Pellos in Mikkeli. His morning starts with emails or a phone call to review the situation at the mills.
"I am lucky that my days are varied. As a rule, I plan the wood maintenance of the mills in cooperation with my team, production and the supply chain and communicate things to the wood suppliers. If everything is not taken into account, problems can show up after six months. You also have to be able to react to contingencies."
Seasonal variations create challenges for storing
The biggest challenges of the job primarily stem from seasonal fluctuations. During the summer, maintaining the freshness of stored raw materials becomes more of an issue, and Pekka and his team are required to put in twice the effort to ensure that the quality is upheld. During winter, the combination of high harvest volumes and snow accumulation presents its own set of difficulties.
"By working together, we can handle any pressure that comes our way. Sometimes we also have to arrange small special batches of wood from the forest to ensure that the customer gets the products they want on time," Pekka laughs.
Pekka's career at UPM started eight years ago when he applied for a job at UPM Forest, where he was doing an internship while studying to become a forester. He applied to UPM Plywood at the encouragement of a supervisor, initially as Wood Procurement Manager.
"You have to be ready to learn new things all the time. Working together to overcome challenges brings a sense of accomplishment. Our goal at wood procurement is to ensure that production always has access to the required raw materials at the right time. We consider ourselves successful when our work goes unnoticed and seamlessly supports production," says Pekka, who has worked in wood procurement for six years.
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Text: Anu Ritvanen