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A holistic digital approach to sawmills

The Moelven Valåsen sawmill in Karlskoga has taken a holistic approach to production data, from receiving raw timber to dispatching the finished product. The aim is to improve the utilisation of raw materials and reduce energy consumption, thus increasing product value and raising productivity.

We want to raise production value by 10% by optimising the use of raw materials, explains Peter Rockedahl of Moelven.

Although production processes at Moelven Valåsen are already highly automated, the digital data collected is divided into data islands. The project’s approach involved taking a holistic approach to all data and using it to achieve business objectives.

“We want to increase productivity, raise production value by 10% by optimising the use of raw materials and reduce energy consumption,” explains Peter Rockedahl of Moelven.

“We intend to do so by improving our measurements of events along the production line, analysing and preparing a basis for rapid adjustments.”

Each tree trunk receives a unique ID 

The production process differs from manufacturing industries where components are assembled. The reverse is true of a sawmill; raw materials are split up through subprocesses such as sawing, drying and sorting. On intake, each tree trunk receives a unique ID based on the timber’s structure. This virtual fingerprint follows the sawn wood throughout the production process, making it possible to follow the production line via various measurement points.

More specifically, Moelven would like to improve their control of timber quality, to ensure the correct quality of finished products.

They are also looking to reduce the risk of products breaking on the production line and to save energy, for example by controlling drying processes more accurately. The goal is to reduce downtime by 15%.

“This solution will provide us with system support that is able to offer a holistic overview and provide automated connections between various events. This will allow us to make corrections during the production process itself.”

Collecting data from many machines

Although a certain amount of data transfer between processes was already possible, this only allowed measures to be taken subsequently.

“There is a great deal of talk about Industry 4.0 but the interesting thing is how this works at machine level. Cloud-based system support may sound alluring but the difficulty lies in each machine delivering data and in having a data structure that measures efficiently. It is a matter of collecting data from many machines across a wide area and ensuring that it is all accurate.”

Can connect with competence remotely

Aside from business objectives, the project also contributes a competence component.

“We are able to connect with people remotely, so that qualified developers can be added without the need to come to site,” says Peter Rockedahl.

RISE has acted as coordinator and contributed technical and theoretical expertise.

“They have the cutting-edge skills, both in digitalisation and timber technology. In order to maintain the focus of the project, RISE has been forced to consider industrialisation and commercial benefits.”

RemaSawco and Schneider Electric are also participants in the project.

“When you let in external expertise, you widen your perspective. We have identified new methods that we would not have found without them. All in all, it has been a fantastic journey,” concludes Peter Rockedahl.

Moelven’s largest sawmill

Moelven Valåsen AB is Moelven’s largest sawmill and is located in Karlskoga. The company has a turnover of € 70 million and employs 95 people. Their sawn timber goods are sold in equal amounts on the Scandinavian market and for export.

Published: 2018-10-15