UPM Kymi is ready for global demand

Higher supply reliability, higher quality, higher energy efficiency. UPM Kymi General Manager Markku Laaksonen says that UPM wanted to set ambitious objectives for its EUR 160 million expansion investment.​

Launched in spring 2014 and now in its final phase, the major Kymi-700 project has three main components: installing a new pulp drying machine, modernising the fibre lines and building a new debarking plant.

“The expansion is part of a UPM growth plan outlined in 2012. It’s our way of showing that we are committed to pulp and have confidence in the future of wood-based products,” Markku says.

The upgrades increase output at UPM Kymi by 170,000 tonnes, bringing the mill’s annual capacity to 700,000 tonnes.

“We can now consistently provide our global customers with UPM Betula birch pulp and UPM Conifer softwood pulp.”

The improvements made to the process have had a desirable impact on quality: the pulp is now faster to refine, cleaner and brighter. The new drying machine has also improved the appearance of pulp bales and made them easier to handle.

Paving the way for the Kymi-700 project, the mill’s recovery boiler, causticising and evaporation units were completely rebuilt in 2008. “We can now use the recovery boiler to its full capacity,” Markku says.

All operations on schedule

The project team and mill staff have surpassed all expectations in ramping up the new lines.
The production and maintenance team has worked tirelessly to ensure the mill’s operational reliability, successfully optimising the process at this critical phase, and the mill has also achieved its new quality goals.

“We have already received positive feedback from customers, who tell us that the refinability of both birch and softwood pulp has clearly improved,” Markku reports.

Even the energy efficiency targets were met effortlessly. An increase of 170,000 tonnes in mill capacity means using nearly 800,000 cubic metres of additional wood. Cooking this much extra chipped wood into pulp yields a lot more black liquor, which consists of spent cooking chemicals and dissolved wood material. The black liquor is burned in the recovery boiler, generating energy to keep the process running.

“The integrated pulp and paper mills in Kymi are fully self-sufficient in thermal energy, and also generates about 85 per cent of its total electric power requirements. This renewable, wood-based energy reduces the costs and environmental impact of manufacturing processes and
products,” Markku explains.

A smooth start-up

The new debarking plant began operating in June and the fibre line and drying machine start-ups occurred during a scheduled maintenance stoppage in August.

“During the maintenance shutdown there were 1,500 people working at the mill, of whom nearly 500 were involved in the expansion. The core project team was about twenty strong, comprising specialists from all of the UPM Pulp mills in Finland,” Markku says.

The machinery changeover from old to new went smoothly, bearing in mind that some equipment had to be used concurrently.

The expansion was also a success in terms of occupational safety, with only one recorded accident leading to a loss of working time during the 18-month project.

“I would like to express my special thanks to the entire project team and to everyone in our manufacturing operation. Great work!”