World-class hi-tech from the wood sector for export
World-class hi-tech from the wood sector for export
The production lines manufactured by Veisto are especially designed for the global softwood market, which handles about 300 million cubic metres (worth €50 million) per year. Of the world’s production of timber, about 10% is sawn on HewSaw machines made by Veisto.“We have great faith in the global growth of the timber market, which is being generated by the increase in wood construction and by increasing and renewing the machinery stock of the sawmill industry,” says Markku Rautio, Managing Director of Veisto Oy.
Rautio believes that the popularity of renewable raw materials in construction will increase the size of the wood product industry. “As the population grows, the share of the middle class will increase, as will the demand for construction. The growth in ecological values brings an increasing demand for renewable materials and I believe that this will be targeted expressly at timber construction. As the consumption of wood increases with rising living standards and population growth, I see enormous potential for the future.”
“Correspondingly, the use of oil-based products will decline, because it is an exhaustible raw material. The price of oil will increase and this will reduce the use of oil-based and energy-intensive construction materials such as concrete, aluminium, steel and plastics. As a result of all this, the competitiveness of wood and sawn goods will improve,” Rautio believes. Sawmills and their forest departments and by-products are also significant players in energy production, making the future look interesting also in this field.
Rautio also says that the significance of the health effects of wood will also grow stronger in future construction. Moisture and problems with mould in concrete construction are putting pressure on dry industrial construction, which is a field where the development of wood construction systems and products will be highly significant.
Sawing technology creating new markets for small logs
Veisto is a family firm that moved from sawing to the manufacture of sawing machines in the early 1960s, when it produced its first hewing machine for the then hot Egyptian beam market.
“We are located in the middle of the forest and have succeeded here because we have invested in our own product development, which strengthens our expertise and enables the development of new products. We constantly engage in product development projects with our customers. We produce quality products and guarantee delivery and service reliability, for example by providing spare parts anywhere in the world at short notice,” says Rautio.
The small log machine kick-started the industrial manufacture of sawing machines and later whole sawing lines, and created completely new markets for customers. “Whilst previously no small logs were taken from forests, thanks to our sawing machinery a new market was created for raw wood that had previously been considered worthless. In Canada, for example, they were previously unable to process the tops of saw-timber trees, from which they can now efficiently saw small beams. The new industrial use of small logs also created new economic conditions for thinning forests, which in turn increases their growth.”
“As a result of the success of a few customers who were not afraid to experiment, the machinery began to sell itself. A single line could produce a thousand cubic metres in one shift. Although our sawing lines can process all sizes of material, our specialty is making small log sawing extremely efficient.“
Rautio emphasises that merely by developing sawing technologies and improving their efficiency, a sawmill company can adapt to the negative price development of timber. In the 1980s, the price of timber was a thousand Finnish marks per cubic metre and today it remains almost the same at below €200. “Sawing speed has increased from 50 metres a minute to 300 metres, which translates as 72 processed logs per minute. In addition to speed, we have also developed crook-sawing, which takes the shape of the log into account, allowing sawing in the direction of the grain and thus improving the strength of the wood. The end-product is straightened in a kiln, resulting in an extremely durable product.”
Following the state of the wood product industry
Veisto engages in typical project-based business activities, and its turnover reflects the susceptibility of investment decisions to economic conditions and the difficulty of forecasting order schedules. “Our operations go hand-in-hand with the economic conditions of the construction, wood product and sawmill industries. For example, the 911 terrorist attacks in the USA froze investments all over the world for almost a year.“
According to Rautio, the only way to survive in this sector is through technical expertise, high-quality products and comprehensive services that include a reliable global spare parts service and the maintenance and modernisation of sawing lines. “We concentrate on sawing lines, but we compensate for this narrow product focus with global sales and service. The competitiveness of our products stems from efficiency in production volumes and the utilisation of raw materials, which is based on high-quality Finnish expertise in the fields of mechanical engineering and automation technology.”
Veisto’s sawing lines and machines incorporate highly developed robot technology and take into account aspects of the Nordic working environment. “Our sawing lines have no dust or chips flying about. They are quiet and the maintenance of machinery and equipment is designed to be carried out ergonomically and safely. This also affects the quality of the timber, because blade changes can be done easily and safely. The quality of the wood chips generated as a by-product is also important to the end-user.”
“The best price for the end-product is obtained when the log can be positioned log-specifically for sawing. This is made possible by utilising the measuring data to the full for the best possible end-result. A laser beam is shot onto the side of the log, a camera takes a picture of it and makes a 3D model of its outer surface and then sorts it by this information. X-ray technology is also increasingly used in the sawmill industry. Although the production of sawn timber is often underrated, these days the sawmill industry, which is significant in terms of the net value of its exports, is a hi-tech industry,” says Rautio.
Article service/Markku Laukkanen