Have closed the main energy drain
Two major upheavals have taken place at Valåsen in recent years: new construction and renovation of the dryers, including a new control system for continuous maintenance, and the revolution itself, digitalisation of the sawmill.
“From 2009 and up to 2017 we have reduced overall consumption of heat energy from 346 kw per m3 finished product to 285. When we know that the dryers are responsible for around 80 per cent of energy consumption, it wasn’t very difficult to decide what we should focus on,” explains Peter Rockedahl, technical director of the Timber division.
Lofty targets with research partnership
Rockedahl emphasises that the measures were important, but that they also have very skilled employees at the dryers, who follow up the new maintenance requirements. New equipment has also allowed round the clock operation, which has increased production significantly.
“We’re reviewing the entire flow of energy in the company, but it was of course the dryers that were given priority. We don’t involve ourselves in political symbolism,” Moelven Valåsen’s director, Fredrik Wallenstad, emphasises.
Wallenstad and Rockedahl completely agree that the major environmental gains are made when efforts also make financial sense. Idealism itself is not enough. The prospect of greater productivity and an improved result must be present to achieve climate goals.
And for the CSR goal “We have climate-smart products and services,” the key goal is to reduce electricity consumption by eight per cent by 2020. Here Valåsen is off to a very good start, and has set even higher goals than that.
“We aim to increase process efficiency by 15 per cent and reduce energy consumption by ten per cent by August of this year. We may not achieve this, but we will be able to show that we will get there. We collaborate closely with several research institutions in Sweden, and can’t manage everything by ourselves,” Wallenstad explains.
Knowledge and sharing culture
In order to measure the energy savings and see how improvements can be made, there are 300 energy meters in operation at the whole plant. And digitalisation of Moelven’s largest sawmill has also led to a large number of other improvements that entail greater process monitoring, quality management, and not least better material utilisation.
“The more we know about the forest’s raw materials, the more we can optimise the quality of the products we process, and also reduce energy consumption during production.”
A digitalised sawmill produces completely new and valuable information on the forest’s raw materials, which is important to exploit to the greatest possible extent. They’re on their way, but still have a lot to learn.
Huge volumes of data are collected that appear on the operators’ screens, and Wallenstad and Rockedahl agree that it can be a bit much. It can be counterproductive. The plan is therefore to better manage what is displayed to individuals, and that important information appears when something special happens.
The interaction between all the new technology and the employees is an important area for Moelven Valåsen AB:
“It means a lot to us that the employees acquire ownership in what they are doing and that they learn from each other. We have different forums where the specialists discuss matters, and management also takes part. A culture of sharing is something we want to stimulate,” Rockedahl says.
Sharing is not only internal. Collaboration with large, important research institutions involves a commitment to share with the rest of the industry. Wallenstad says that they write articles and attend seminars and trade fairs to disseminate new knowledge.