Footpath to be reinstated

This was the promise made by Moelven Skog AB after its forestry harvesters caused damage to the footpath leading to the Rennstadsnipan nature reserve. The damage has now been repaired using diggers, so the access road and footpath have been reinstated as promised.

CEO Björn Johansson regrets what happened and stresses that Moelven Skog is not in the habit of spoiling access roads and paths.

‘I’m really sorry this happened, and it’s something we take extremely seriously because looking after the environment is important to us. This incident isn’t something we’re proud of. We apologise profusely and regret that we misjudged the weather. The mild weather in February took us completely by surprise,’ Johansson explains.

Felling permit

Moelven Skog had purchased a felling permit for an area where the access road is a dug-out tractor road, which has recently also functioned as a footpath to the Rennstadsnipan nature reserve. According to Johansson, the company relied on the access road being frozen to be able to carry out its felling effectively.

‘This is why we started work in February, when the weather forecasts indicated that temperatures would stay below freezing. But then there was a change in the weather with temperatures several degrees above freezing, leading to rapid thawing and tracks forming along the path,’ Johansson explains.

The forestry company then decided to stop driving the wood out, anticipating that the weather would change again, but that never happened.

‘We drove the remainder of the wood out once the ground had dried up again,’ he explains.

Better routines

Johansson says that, unfortunately, the consequence was that the forestry harvesters caused damage to the access road and the footpath, but that Moelven Skog will now tighten up and improve its routines for felling in areas where footpaths or cultural trails are affected because they serve as access roads or because they cross the felling area.

‘However, I’d like to stress that we haven’t done anything illegal. The forest owner wanted to cut the area. We manage the forest for the forest owner and so we purchased a felling permit, in the usual way, to enable us to cut the wood. We had obtained the approval of all the parties concerned, including the relevant authorities, to fell trees in the area at this time. This, too, is wholly in line with our usual practice. Unfortunately, the change in the weather came too quickly,’ says Johansson.

Valåsen to be the digital sawmill

Dubbed “The digital sawmill”, this is one of eight innovation projects to be financed by Vinnova – the Swedish government agency that administers state funding for research and development – in an effort to make Sweden a world leader in digitalised industry.

Peter Rockedahl, Technical Director of Moelven, explains that the project will be run by SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden (SP) – now part of Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) – together with the team at Moelven Valåsen and the technology providers RemaSawco and Schneider Electric. The project will be carried out at the sawmill in Karlskoga over a two-year period. The results will be presented at a seminar at Trä & Teknik, the trade fair for the forestry and wood industry, in Gothenburg in 2018.

‘The main idea behind the project is that digitalisation can facilitate more efficient and value-adding forest, wood and by-product production by using connected sensors and traceability for a product, and moving information both forwards and backwards through the production process. By collating and analysing data from different parts of the production process, a better understanding can be achieved, making it possible to optimise the entire process,’ Rockedahl explains.

Important targets

Rockedahl explains that the project’s ambitious targets include a 15% increase in process efficiency, a 10% increase in product value and a 10% reduction in energy consumption. Verifying these targets relies on a digitalised installation at the sawmill.

‘The challenge lies in generating and making available relevant information at relevant places throughout the value chain, and increasing the use of information in those parts of the value chain that currently make little use of it. We’re restricting ourselves in this project to the flow of information within the sawmill, by using information from existing machines and systems, and installing new sensors and transmitters that are connected up to a common information management platform. All this will provide access to a large volume of data, which we will collate and, at a later stage, connect to inventory systems, analytical tools and graphic interfaces for production and planning,’ Rockedahl explains.

Fredrik Wallenstad, MD of Moelven Valåsen, is very pleased to have been awarded public funding for the project:

‘The funding allows us to carry out a general optimisation of raw materials, production set-up, distribution and sales. This will also increase the traceability of the products and reduce energy consumption in production. All these outcomes contribute to the ultimate goal, which is to increase the added value and reduce losses in the sector by lowering costs, increasing revenues, and improving opportunities for production planning and increased use of wood.’

Solid expertise

The project is being managed by SP, now part of RISE. As well as the group of participants, there will be a reference group for information dissemination and feedback from economic actors facing similar challenges, including outside the forestry and timber industry.

‘The plan is to arrange several project-external and -internal workshops so as to bring the entire industry with us. The project will also host a seminar at Trä & Teknik [the trade fair for the forestry and wood industry] in Gothenburg in 2018. An article for publication in a well-known industry journal and the participating companies’ customer magazines will be written at the end of the project. Once the project has been concluded, we expect to be able to use the pilot installation and the methods developed at several Moelven-owned sawmills, and the results could also be of benefit at other sawmills. Other industries, such as slaughterhouses, may be interested in our results – in the same way as we take an interest in developments in other sectors – so representatives from these industries will be invited to discussions and workshops,’ Wallenstad finishes.

Increasing capacity with robots

Moelven Byggmodul AB’s production unit in Säffle is experiencing increased demand and has invested SEK 72 million in robotised production of modules. Inspiration from the car industry will increase capacity on one production line by 80%.

Johan Samuelsson, CEO of Moelven Byggmodul AB, says the company is taking this step to meet the high demand for temporary buildings in Sweden.

‘First and foremost we’re investing to make sure those of our key customers who build movable or temporary buildings, for example schools, offices and basic accommodation, can get what they need when they need it. The investment also means that the company will be better equipped for increased capacity within the high-quality permanent buildings segment. In general terms, we’re also demonstrating how modular building can be further rationalised and industrialised,’ says Samuelsson.

Expanding in stages

Marcus Johansson, chairman of the board of Moelven Byggmodul AB, says that the expansion will be carried out in six stages with a total investment framework of SEK 72 million. The first four stages, which have a combined framework of SEK 38 million, have now been approved and will be built in the summer.

‘The expansion primarily involves the production line that was built last year being expanded to twice the current length and equipped with robots.’ The production line was one of the factors in Moelven Byggmodul’s factory in Säffle being nominated for “Lean Builder of the Year” alongside industrial products manufacturer PEA and Värmdö Municipality’s department of planning and environmental affairs.

Johan Samuelsson says that the project also includes a unique robotised wall production line with a fully automated station for fitting stanchions and panels to walls. He explains that the line builds walls almost entirely without human intervention and that it has been designed by Moelven’s own experts, who took inspiration from the car industry.

‘What we’re putting into practice here is an industrial approach to building in wood. As far as we know, this way of building walls is completely unique in modern modular production. The panels are positioned by robots, using information from drawings. Insulation, electrical fittings and exterior panels are still installed by hand,’ Samuelsson says.

40 new jobs

Johan Samuelsson says that the investment will create around 40 new jobs in Säffle once the new plant is ready, which should be in March 2017.

‘We’re developing lean-based, effective modular production at our production unit in Säffle in the existing space, which among other things currently houses a warehouse and a football pitch. The football pitch and warehouse will be replaced by a production line, which will be moved from its current location and adapted. But the pay-off for the loss of the football pitch is that Säffle will gain 40 new jobs as a result of the investment,’ says Samuelsson.

Samuelsson goes on to explain that the investment is expected to have a number of extremely positive HSE outcomes for the company.

‘We’re installing production equipment, workstations and various systems that provide benefits such as more ergonomic working positions, fewer manual operations, less use of nailing guns and safer logistics, as truck traffic is reduced on walkways and in production areas. These are some of the outcomes we believe will result in fewer occupational injuries and lower sickness-related absence,’ he says.

Moelven is now the leading modular producer in the Nordic region with total orders on hand of SEK 1.5 billion.

Making it easy to build walls at height

Moelven Wood is launching Vänerply P30 Ergo with two inserts. This is a simple and complete full-height solution in structural plywood for ceiling heights of 2500 and 2700 mm. Anna Gustafsson, head of communications at Moelven Wood AB, explains that Vänerply P30 Ergo, which has been on the market a while, is structural plywood in a practical finish with a format that makes it easy to install as a horizontal wall panel.

‘The two inserts expand Vänerply P30 Ergo to a “concept”, more specifically a full-height solution for ceiling heights of 2500 and 2700 mm. The inserts simplify and rationalise work on the building site, avoiding the need to cut panels to fit in the space up to ceiling heights of 2500 and 2700 mm from 2400 mm,’ Gustafsson explains.

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Easier, smarter and faster

Hans Fougman, product manager for panel materials at Moelven Wood AB, explains that Vänerply P30 Ergo Passbit is the result of a product development process that gives Moelven’s customers both better functionality and an easier, smarter and faster way to assemble walls.

‘In technical terms, I can explain it by saying that four panels of Vänerply P30 Ergo cover 2360 mm. The first panel covers 605 mm, and the next three each cover 585 mm. If the ceiling height where Vänerply P30 Ergo is being fitted is 2500 or 2700 mm, there will be gap up to the ceiling. Ergo inserts can be used to complete a full-height wall. Both the inserts have a flange on one long side and can be fitted as a starting panel from the floor or as a finishing panel up to the ceiling. It’s unbelievably simple,’ Fougman says.

Flange that locks the panel

The product manager believes Vänerply P30 Ergo is unique because of the flange that locks the panel in place right along the long side.

‘This offers many advantages. Among other things, the flange on the panel provides an automatic means of locking that strengthens the structure and makes it possible to place the short side of the panel between the stanchions at intervals of c/c 450 mm.’

Fougman goes on to explain that Vänerply P30 Ergo is a structural-grade plywood that a carpenter can easily install on his own.

‘The panel is fitted installed as a horizontal wall panel, and the unique flange on the long side helps to keep the panel in place until the carpenter has secured the upper panel to the lower one. The panel fits stanchions at intervals of c/c 600 and 450 mm,’ he explains.

Recommended for carpenters

Fougman recommends the product to any carpenters on the look-out for smarter structural plywoods.

‘Among other things, this is an ideal solution for fitting in restricted spaces. The ergonomic format makes it easy to work with, even when the available space limits the clearance. Overall, it’s a good product to work with.

‘The panel weighs only 9 kg, making it easier to handle at the workplace. This makes it better ergonomically and reduces the risk of occupational injuries,’ he says.

The panel also ensures fast assembly, which is a benefit economically.

‘Vänerply P30 Ergo has flanged long sides, and you screw two panels together at the same time, which makes assembly easy. Using Vänerply P30 Ergo with stanchions at intervals of c/c 600 mm instead of 450 mm offers cost savings in the form of fewer stanchions and faster installation,’ Fougman explains.

Biofuel agreement reduces emissions

Biofuel from Swedish forests is reducing CO2 emissions in Stockholm by around 126,000 tonnes a year. Energy company Fortum Värme is freighting biofuel from Swedish forests by train to its new biomass-fired combined heat and power (CHP) plant at Värtan in Stockholm via Moelven’s new bioterminal in Karlskoga.

‘The new biomass-fired plant was commissioned in 2016 and will reduce global CO2 emissions by around 650,000 tonnes when fossil fuels are phased out,’ says Kjell E. Nilsson, Head of Biomass Trading at Fortum Värme.

Big investment

Fortum has invested SEK 4.5 billion in the new biomass-fired plant, which represents an important step towards developing a sustainable energy supply in Stockholm and Europe.

The new plant, which produces both heat and power at the same time, will exploit the energy contained in residual products from the forestry industry. Each year, the biofuel will generate 750 GWh of power and 1700 GWh of heat, equivalent to heating around 190,000 average-sized flats.

Moelven’s bioterminal in Karlskoga, which was officially opened in January 2016, is a storage and distribution facility for by-products such as sawdust and dry wood chips from Moelven’s sawmill at Valåsen in Karlskoga, as well as chipped branches, stemwood chips and tops of trees from the forest.

‘We at Vänerbränsle AB, in which Moelven is the majority owner, have invested in the bioterminal at Valåsen and will be responsible for operating it. The parties to the contract for supplying biofuel are Moelven Industrier ASA, Vänerbränsle and Fortum Värme. The agreement is an excellent example of the forestry industry’s increasing importance for a cleaner world,’ says Staffan Vilhelmsson, CEO of Vänerbränsle AB.

Guaranteed sales outlet

The agreement sees Stockholm increasing its use of biofuel and reducing emissions, while Moelven benefits from a guaranteed long-term sales outlet for its sawmill by-products.

‘Of course, being paid for by-products is important, and being able to sell them is even more important. Landfilling organic materials isn’t allowed these days, and our sites would come to a halt within a few days if the by-products weren’t freighted away on a continual basis. After all, the by-products make up part of the timber price: 50% of the wood becomes planks and boards, 25% cellulose chips and 25% other by-products,’ Vilhelmsson explains.

Each year, around 25 trains carrying sawdust and other biofuel will make the journey from Karlskoga to Fortum Värme at Värtan. Each train has 27 wagons, each carrying three containers. In total, Moelven will be one of the largest suppliers of biofuel by rail to Fortum Värme.

The world’s tallest wooden building

Close to both the sea and the city, the world’s tallest wooden building rises to a height of 51 metres. A home in “Treet” – the tree – offers airy, high-quality living space based on spruce from deep Norwegian forests.

The Treet residential building in Bergen comprises 14 storeys in wood and is a full four storeys taller than any other wooden building in the world. Not only is it unique, it is also historic.

 ‘It’s been a global race, with many countries voicing their intention to build a tall wooden building. But Norway got there first, putting Bergen on the map among architects and experts the world over,’ says Rune Abrahamsen, graduate engineer and Norway’s leading specialist in glulam and wooden load-bearing constructions. Employed by Sweco at the time, he was the consultant engineer in the building project and one of the brains behind the innovative building.

It’s not just the size but also the building method that makes the building ground-breaking: Using glulam in combination with modules, as has been done in Treet, is something completely new. The building has been constructed by stacking modules to make the first four storeys, followed by a reinforced storey with glulam structures and a concrete slab on the top as the basis for another four storeys, before another supporting platform on the tenth storey.

 ‘This is where the innovation lies. We established a building system for wood that functions for great heights. This hasn’t been done for housing purposes previously, so there wasn’t much to lean on,’ says Abrahamsen, pointing out that the challenge is that wood is a light material and can oscillate significantly at height.

Research-based

The planning group made up of representatives from the main contractor and subcontractors – a dedicated development team – worked with academics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) to test and calculate the damping factor.

‘A tall wooden building can be compared to a blade of grass. When it’s windy, there is movement, and it would have been uncomfortable living in the top storeys.’

Physical testing and estimates assessed the damping factor for Treet to be 1.9. After the building was constructed, it was measured at an impressive 1.89.

 ‘It must be said there have been many clever people involved in this work and many high-powered brains behind the various parts of the project,’ says Abrahamsen, who acknowledges he is pleased to have taken part.

 ‘It was an incredibly exciting process that culminated in a successful project – a building containing a lot of wood in which it is pleasant to live and people can enjoy a good quality of life,’ he sums up.

Large span Rune Abrahamsen is now manager of Moelven Limtre, which also made a significant contribution to the process, both in terms of innovation and deliveries. The 45 metre trusses, partly visible both inside and outside, were produced and assembled by Moelven Limtre AS.

 ‘These were enormous frame works, delivered with millimetre precision,’ he states. 

Abrahamsen believes using wood in buildings affects how people experience the building, and gives it distinctive characteristics.

 ‘We Scandinavians have long traditions of building with wood. We’re used to wooden houses: they make us feel comfortable, we like the smell and I think many people find them warm. Quite simply, wood changes the whole atmosphere of a building and the indoor climate,’ he says. 

Special indoor environment

Entrepreneur Bjørn Myreze has bought one of the 62 flats in Treet. As well as the great location and functional living space, he cites the indoor environment as a particular attraction.

 ‘The first thing that struck us as we came into the building was the fresh air,’ says Myreze, who explains that they had originally intended to buy a flat on one of the top storeys.

 ‘Instead, we chose the ground floor. We fell in love with the flat as soon as we walked into it. We’d never imagined it would be possible to live so close to the sea but here we’re almost living on the water, rather like being on a boat,’ he says. 

He thinks the fact that the house has been built in wood makes a big difference in how it is perceived.

 ‘Even outside, the wood is the first thing you are aware of and, with wooden structures and surfaces inside, the whole building seems to breathe. The balance between wood and modern technology has produced a fantastic building that is also environmentally friendly, with a top energy rating of A under Norway’s Energimerke scheme. And you get both sea and city views into the bargain,’ he comments. 

More high wooden buildings in prospect

Rune Abrahamsen believes Treet will just be the starting shot when it comes to constructing high wooden buildings.

 ‘We’re already seeing more and more people moving to the cities, and this trend will only increase in the future. Space in urban areas is in short supply, and one way of using the space better is to build “up”. High wooden buildings in cities are the ultimate answer to meeting the environmental requirements of the future and being able to build sustainably,’ he states, adding that the problems are even more acute in countries with higher population densities.

Treet has provided much valuable experience, and every week Abrahamsen receives enquiries about the building from all over the world – from students, publications and industry insiders wanting more information and a guided tour.

 ‘I can’t accommodate every request, but there have been a number of guided tours of the building, most recently with a delegation from France,’ he relates. 

Being involved in innovative development projects is a high priority for Moelven Limtre.

 ‘In terms of both hours and expertise, we devote quite a lot of resources and people to being innovative in projects. We want to be out in front all the way, and not just in Norway, but internationally too,’ he states. 

A new, ground-breaking landmark building in wood is now ready on the drawing board. Flats in the 18-storey Mjøstårnet building in Brumunddal near Moelven, which will rise to more than 70 metres, are now up for sale.