Published 13 August 2018
In the building industry, Stora Enso aims to capture market share from concrete and steel with wood. Jari Suominen, EVP, Division Wood Products, talks about our latest developments and sums up the benefits of building with wood.
One of the strategic targets of Stora Enso Wood Product division is to capture market share from competing construction materials like concrete and steel. Why should we build with wood?
Firstly, the wooden building industry is quite unique in its ability to reduce CO2 emissions and store carbon.
The building industry causes 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, and there is pressure to curb this. The key factor is to make construction efficient and environmentally sound. Massive wood components, like CLT (cross-laminated timber) and LVL (laminated veneer lumber) are an excellent solution: wood is renewable and reusable, and using wood with efficient building processes reduces CO2 emissions. In addition, wooden buildings store carbon.
According to a study (Case Study Bridport House 2011), constructing a building with wood amounts to only 25% of the CO2 emissions caused by constructing a building with concrete. When taking into account the carbon storage effect, a wooden multi-storey building takes away carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as much as a concrete multi-storey causes emissions.
Secondly, when building with wood, there is hardly any waste. The amount of building waste is a big challenge in the building industry in general.
Using Stora Enso’s solutions, the time it takes to erect a building can be reduced by 20% to even 70%. Building with wood in big cities is quieter and safer, and the transport of light massive wood elements is easier, since the elements have been pre-cut with millimeter-exact door and window openings, holes for cables and so on.
Thirdly, wood is a natural material, and wooden buildings are pleasant to live and study in. In Europe, there’s a significant rise in building schools, kindergartens and retirement homes with wood. The fire safety of massive wood elements is good, and old fears about wooden buildings have dissipated.
What is Stora Enso doing to develop and market technically competitive solutions?
Stora Enso is one of the few players who can provide more or less all the wooden components to build a wooden multi-storey, with our extensive portfolio of CLT, LVL, construction beams and other wooden materials. Our building systems support customers by providing guidance on how to build with wood as efficiently as possible. BIM (Building Information Model) systems are also being incorporated to further facilitate building. Our business model and supply chain have been developed so that we can serve the customer from different mills for the best possible combination of products – this is our multi-mill concept. All this is underlined by continuous innovation and advanced product management.
Stora Enso is building a CLT mill in Gruvön, Sweden, with production scheduled to begin during the first quarter of 2019. Why Gruvön and what markets will it serve?
In Gruvön we can take advantage of and make best use of the premises available, an industrial infrastructure for efficient logistics, the local supply of raw material to optimise wood sourcing and highly competent workforce. It will mainly serve Nordic countries, where we see extensive potential for CLT and where the demand for this premium product and our massive building components and systems are constantly increasing. But it is also competitive in Great Britain and overseas markets. On top of that, it will be part of the multi-mill concept. At Gruvön, we can make rib panels 3.5 metres high, whereas previously we have only been able to produce rib panels 3.0 metres high.
A fully integrated production supported by the latest technology, as we will see in Gruvön, brings our customers cost competitive offerings, premium products, a better customised delivery, and new services which will support their growth in wood construction.
What are the steps being taken to optimise the value chain?
Our value chain starts in a European forest. The products are highly refined and can travel as far as Australia, for example, to be used as wooden components in a multi-storey building. There are many steps in between from customer demand and sourcing the right raw material, to production and delivery of goods as efficiently as possible, and we continue to optimise our end-to-end processes.
How does digitalisation factor in, in Wood Products?
Digitalisation is everywhere in our operations. We have identified 12 steps in our processes, from the forest to the customer, where we are utilising digitalisation, everything from big data and analytics to robotisation. We are making progress in all of these areas, while at the same time learning new possibilities. This is not a project – it is an evolution that will never stop.
Wood Products has a great deal to bring to Stora Enso’ renewability story. Can you elaborate?
Wood is a renewable material: forests grow back. We know the origin of all the wood we use, and our products ensure efficient, safe construction with a low carbon footprint. Wooden buildings store carbon. If one day the building faces demolition, the wooden structures can be re-used in reconstruction or other industries as it still holds the valuable fibres. The wood fibres could for example be used for fabrics in the clothing industry. If not, the wood can still be used for bioenergy. The carbon dioxide released in the burning process can be absorbed by growing trees, thus returning back to the forest. Practically none of the material ends up in a landfill.
What will be your main focus during the second half of 2018?
We are eagerly waiting for the CLT production in Gruvön to start. With Gruvön, we also launch the multi-mill concept. In Austria, we have developed some new products and new building components for floors, roofs, walls etc. We will continue to develop building systems, and a new wooden office concept is soon to be launched. We will also continue to evolve through digitalisation. At the end of the day, we want to put all this together to understand and serve the customer even better.