Speeding up new platforms for growth

Published 14 August 2017
Markus Mannström is the new Head of Stora Enso’s Biomaterials division and former Chief Technology Officer of the company.

How familiar are you with pulp and the biochemical industry?
I have been working in the forest industry pretty much all my career, and in Stora Enso for over 15 years. During these years, having had many different positions in the company, I’ve gathered a good understanding of the industry. In Biomaterials, we will continue the strategy to strengthen our pulp business and create new platforms for growth.

What is your main focus?
I wish to bring speed to the transformation and growth of our division as well as to support improved efficiency in production. I also want to use our digitalisation capabilities to enhance and optimise our operations, whether it is within the mill gates, the way we conceive our offering or in the way we interact with our customers.

How can speed be applied to the new platforms?
We’ve changed our set-up in research to gain speed. Future business, product or service opportunities are organised under strategic themes. Let’s take lignin, for example. As a theme, it can hold multiple new opportunities. The target is to understand all the dimensions around the theme – in science, the production chain, handling of raw material, delivery chain, customer need, anywhere. And rather than a linear step-by-step flow from research to production to sales, we put together competence from all areas and work simultaneously on different angles. Theme leaders have the responsibility to take the helicopter view, considering all aspects and driving potential opportunities towards a working solution in the hands of customers.

In the existing pulp business, the strategic aim is to increase the share of specialised pulp, such as fluff and dissolving pulp in the Nordic mills. Why?
We have two major pulp mills that are joint operations producing eucalyptus pulp: Veracel in Brazil and Montes del Plata in Uruguay. There, we need to ensure first-class forestry and production efficiency. In the Nordic mills, however, we are concentrating on specialised pulps, like fluff and dissolving pulp. It gives us a possibility to work closely with customers and differentiate, building highly specialised products and services that support the customer. Here growth is in specialised pulps, not paper pulp.

What are our best assets in Biomaterials compared to our competitors?
We can offer an alternative to materials and chemicals containing fossil-based raw materials. We have a strong case of environmentally-friendly arguments. Our product qualities have to be similar or better than in the product it replaces. We must produce the same quality at less cost, or better quality at the same price. One big asset is that the price of wood has traditionally been quite stable compared to oil prices. In the basic pulp business, we win with cost competitiveness via productivity, production efficiency, and the price of wood.
In the specialised pulp business, we win with unique added value to serve our customers better. This is achieved by developing the product qualities. It is all underlined by our ability to cooperate, so that our product works as it should in the customer’s processes.

Similar articles