Seppo, Coordinator, Quotations, has witnessed business development for 35 years

“I came to Raute in 1984 almost straight after graduation. My Raute career started as Electrical Design Engineer at Lahti. I didn’t have much experience in design engineering that time but by doing and with the support of more experienced design engineers we got things started. My tasks included line electricity documentation and programming control logics for lines and line commissioning. At that time, Raute machines were controlled with RIC 85 logic which was Raute’s (Lahden Vaaka) own product."

Raute operated in Lahti until 1988. That time my work tasks included design engineering, programming and line commissioning. Five to six years went fast in that field of tasks. I would dare to say that I have visited and worked in every plywood mill in Finland, some of them aren’t, however, running anymore.

When my family started to grow I expressed my wish to give up traveling abroad on business. Year was 1990 and there became an open position in Raute’s Quotations team. The task was quite new and there weren’t actual tools for line cost accounting. That was something we had to do ourselves.”

Working as part of bigger picture

Ahonen Seppo

I cooperate a lot with automation engineering but also with procurement and production. Tasks vary based on what else is happening at the office. I participate in quotation preparations by pricing automation parts for the line. In addition, I purchase switchboards and cases for projects. In my opinion, these functions complement each other very well.

The more you know the big picture, the easier it is to understand your own work’s value in the process. Human relationships are an important part of the success. Having contacts into both directions of the chain will allow you to see things much more widely, which will make it easier to manage your own work. This kind of project work requires team spirit.”

Automation develops fast

“Basic functions in lines, such as peeling or drying, have remained quite the same over the years, but automation has increased and developed very much.  Nowadays lines have variable speed drives, field buses, distributed control systems and safety systems. Increased automation brings for machines and lines more usability, adjustability, safety and diagnostics to monitor line operations. At the same time, we will get much production-related information from the lines which can be collected to data collection and production control systems.

The need for machine and line development results from some new function that is needed and would be useful for the customer’s production. The idea may come from the customer or from our technology experts. Based on the idea we start to create and develop a new machine or functionality for the existing machine. Upgrading automation systems to old machines and lines is one way to boost their efficiency and safety, and to upgrade them to a technology level we need today.

In so called old days, projects tied 1-2 employees from automation. Today, there are easily 4-5 automation players in a project. One is familiar with user interfaces, second with safety logics, third with machine vision system, and the list goes on. Automation is more fractured, and we need diverse competence. It requires continuous training and learning new stuff to keep up with fast developing automation. In addition, we need to learn customer’s values and technology.”


Markku, Maintenance Specialist – Installations and service near the customer for 50 years

“I started to work at Raute straight after finishing the vocational school on June 3. Year was 1969. At the same with me time, many boys came to work for Raute. I started my career as a painting trainee after which I moved to the finishing filing cabinet to work on small parts. In a way, these tasks served as a traineeship for the assembly department. One year passed in the finishing filing cabinet, and then it was my turn to serve in the military. When returned to Raute, I started working in a lathe workshop at Raute’s Lahti factory, where I worked until starting among the service business.

I transferred to the service team around 15 years ago. The alternative was that I could return to assembly if the new task and travel work would be too demanding for me. Well, here I am still after all these years.

In practice, I do inspections at the customer sites and based on the visits also preventive maintenance. In addition, I sometimes work with capital projects, mostly among line installations. Mostly, there have been lathe installation gigs around the world. The work is very customer oriented. It is rewarding to see customer satisfaction. “

Travelling around the world

“Before joining the service team, I worked occasionally among projects. In 1987 I had my first site assignment at Orsev’s plywood mill where we delivered the whole mill.

Later travelling has increased a lot. By now I have travelled in so many countries that I have stopped counting. I can say that I have visited every country where there are plywood machines, such as New Zealand, Australia, China, Indonesia, Russia and Poland, only to mention some. My last trip abroad was to France.

My most memorable trip, in addition to Orsev, was certainly my first visit to Indonesia in 1993, starting on the Boxing Day. I had no earlier experience or knowledge about the country and I was excited to see how it was to work in jungle.”

Work changes but something remains – People

Markku“Fast changing technology has caused many changes to the work. In the old days, we played with faxes while being abroad. It was usually the big boss who had the only telephone and we had to change the calling line between the phone and fax. Communication was much slower and sensitive for distractions. Lines to the jungle were what they were which caused that sometimes the received faxes were unreadable. Also, the time difference caused much more difficulties because messages couldn’t be reached on time.

Today, communication is easier and quicker. It is also easier to get information. Reports can be done and read via mobile and on site you can check out drawings with your phone, for example.

Also, machines develop continuously and modernizations bring many new versions requiring continuous learning and thus makings this work so interesting. You get to learn and develop yourself, too.

Even work and ways to work are changing all the time, one thing hasn’t change: People. This work requires knowledge of the human nature and every customer is different. The customer may be a family business where the entrepreneur him-/herself is closely involved in the business or the customer is a hired employee in some big corporate whose attitude can be very different. However, we always work for the customer. Without customers, there wouldn’t be any business.

This work also requires passion. Sometimes the work can be very dirty and hard, and situations change fast. Still it is all worth it when you solve the problem and the customer is thanking you. That is best feedback for your work.”

On Friday, August 30, 2019 Markku will start well deserved retirement days after 50-year-career at Raute. We want to thank Markku, the true customer service hero, for all these years. Enjoy!

Raute mill improvements – Get more out from your existing mill

Raute has delivered veneer, plywood and LVL mills and machines since the early 20th century. Dozens of complete mills, thousands of machines and a significant amount of mill improvement services around the world to the veneer-based wood industry.

THANKS TO the long history and excellent co-operation with our customers, we have collected a huge experience in plywood and LVL mill development. That experience, combined with the latest technology and service innovations, gives us the possibility to provide the strongest customer support for developing the production of existing mills.

Focus on the production process

An efficient production process is the most important factor for a profitable mill. But can a right way to process improvements be found? A deep understanding of product end users helps in achieving a world-class production process. Why are customers buying panels or beams, how are they using it and what are the most critical factors for them to succeed in their own business? Knowing end user needs gives the possibility to reach or even exceed customer expectations and, at the same time, maximize a mill’s profitability.

The end user understanding and Raute’s production process and technology knowhow form a strong combination to achieve better overall production efficiency. Quality, capacity and yield are the key factors for each mill, but the weighting of those varies between different mills. The understanding of where to focus on is the base for mill development analysis. Raw material, processes, machines and operations need to be analysed to find an overall view for the production process.

The typical life cycle of plywood/ LVL mills and machinery is very long thanks to Raute’s robust machine design and smooth production possibilities. The utilization of old machines via modernizations tends to be the most cost-efficient way to improve production lines. That is also a sustainable way to boost mill efficiency, compared to totally new investments. Raute SmartMill products, tools and services ensure the accurate measurements from the existing production lines and make it possible to see how the process was improved.

Mill improvement concept

A typical case for mill development is that a customer would like to have a more efficient production process. In some cases, raw material or panel sizes will be changed to increase the value of the product. Raute has developed its own modularized concept for the mill improvement process.


Mill audit phase
1. Background data collection and analysis
2. Field study at the mill
3. Planning and Reporting

Mill audit phase sorts out the most efficient ways to improve mill and achieve expected targets. The outcome is a detailed mill development plan with evaluation of improvement potential and payback calculations for investments. The plan works as guideline for mill improvement project execution.

Execution phase

1. Immediate actions, operation and process improvements
2. Project execution step by step. Investments based on mill development plan
3. Ramp-up period – shortest payback time
4. Service agreement – to upkeep achieved high OEE

The target of the execution phase is to get the shortest possible payback time for our customer investments. With Raute service agreements, we ensure the highest possible OEE. Many customers have taken benefit from Raute’s experience and wide range offering for mill scale improvements. •

Sveza Kostroma took a huge leap in veneer recovery

Plywood producers are facing more and more challenges in the availability of high-quality raw material. The percentage of small diameter logs is constantly increasing. At the same time, plywood mills are seeking an optimal way to utilize raw material. One solution is to invest in technology that converts side products into high-quality veneer. This is where RauteLite technology comes in.

BACK IN 2016, Sveza Kostroma plywood mill, one of the most modern and efficient birch plywood mills in Russia and a key production unit within the Sveza Group, decided to take a leap to maximize its raw material utilization. The solution was the RauteLite concept.

Line capacity, ease of use, high thickness accuracy and safety were clearly targeted in the investment.

High thickness accuracy

The idea was to increase mill recovery by re-peeling cores from the main lathe with the RauteLite peeling line. Cores from the recently modernized 8-ft Raute VE lathe are automatically conveyed to the RauteLite block sawing line, then peeled into a 4 x 4-ft dimension on the RauteLite peeling line. The dried veneers are composed into full 4 x 8-ft sheets used as short core veneers in the lay-up.

The delivery was made in summer 2017 and installation followed in the fall within the normal production. The line was tested with all different core diameters: minimum 73 mm, average 80 mm, Raute’s recommended 95 mm and even 200 mm diameter blocks (spinouts).

Various raw material qualities were tested as well: solid, core decay, soft decay, unconditioned, cylinder-shaped and conical cylinder-shaped blocks. With all raw materials, the line was able to peel veneer down to 30-mm cores. The line did not make miracles, if the wood material was too poor, but the most critical criteria – high thickness accuracy was achieved, always reaching the general target of +/- 0.1 mm tolerance.

RauteLite peeling line maximizes raw material utilization. Peeling with round-up and log handling – all in one line.

Remarkable savings

The new investment has already proven to be successful for Kostroma. “It solves the problem by reducing the raw material consumption and changing the method of balancing the production of 4-ft and 8-ft veneers. This project allows us to save up to 800 m3 of raw material per month”, explains Director Viktor Tikhonov.

Viktor Tikhonov has worked in Sveza for 19 years and for 26 years in the plywood business in total. “The following main task for our mill will be cost reduction in all areas, and I look forward to the Raute G5 concept.”

Raute’s Sales Manager Kimmo Ahonen is proud to benchmark Sveza Kostroma’s RauteLite line which is not expensive or complicated to use, but provides new capacity from normally unused cores.

“Sveza Kostroma may have been the first to repeel cores on a separate line, but they surely won’t be the last. A new era to discover more with RauteLite has begun.”


Efficient peeling of small diameter blocks

RauteLite peeling line was originally developed for the ease of use and the efficiency of peeling plantation logs. The new spindleless lathe utilizes Raute’s long experience in veneer peeling. Optimal peeling geometry (OPG) responds to the need of utilizing small diameter logs. Providing high recovery, it is an excellent solution to maximize veneer production together with main lathes. •

MillSIGHTS: Improve your production with digital tools

Real-time accuracy and reliability. These are the issues you should focus on when you are looking for a production data collection and reporting system, which undoubtedly is one of the key tools for successful mill management.

MillDATARAUTE’S NEW SOLUTION in this area of so-called MIS (Management Information System) products is MillSIGHTS. It is the outcome of a development project summing up all the knowledge and experience that Raute has been able to accumulate over the years while working closely together with the wood processing industry.

To improve its profitability, mills need more detailed insight into production performance and line availability. Rising material costs and competition in product pricing are forcing mills to seek downtime reasons, optimize the output volumes and improve the end product quality. MillSIGHTS supports all these challenges by giving good tools for mill management in making precise operational decisions on production planning and for necessary maintenance actions.


MillSIGHTS is specially designed for veneer, plywood and LVL mills. Raute has delivered older MIS solutions for more than 50 mills and 300 production lines globally.

MillSIGHTS is essential part of Raute’s new line deliveries, but it can also be implemented to existing production lines which contain relatively modern line controls.

Safety first

Machinery safety is the basis of having a safe working environment.

SAFETY IS ONE OF the key factors in having a successful industrial panel producing business today. Machinery safety is the basis of having a safe working environment. No safety rules or safety practices can replace modern automated guarding and safety solutions integrated to machinery. By applying the latest safety standards (like ISO 12100), Raute sets the goal that customer employees always get home healthy. As an active member of the Observing Committee (K114) of European Committee for Standardization CEN/TC 114 – Safety of Machinery, Raute is one step ahead when it comes to new safety standards and safety legislation.

To apply safety standards/safety legislation, use of full area guarding with fencing days is a must. The best results are achieved when the latest solutions of safety automation, safety logic controllers and safety drives are combined with account usability and efficient production. By using Raute machinery, those aspects are always integrated. For example, full area guarding, based on fencing surrounding the line and interlocking guards and photo sensitive safety equipments, ensures that access to machinery always means a safety stop – but only in that part of machinery where it is needed. In most cases, other parts of the line can continue production.

How to enhance the drying process

Improper drying is the cause of most damages and veneer losses in plywood production. It is the process through which quality is made and cannot be improved afterwards. During the drying process, the moisture inside wood cells is evaporated in the shortest possible time and with the minimum use of energy. It may sound simple, but production managers struggle with splits, over dried veneers, jams and stops in the process, as well as the need for re-drying and having to deal with broken veneers on a daily basis. Luckily, proper technology can make this process much more predictable.

HOW TO DRY VENEER efficiently to desired moisture and maintain quality and elastic properties for further processes? This is the question the most successfull plywood and LVL producers are paying attention to. The answer lies in focusing more on the input material and combining that information to drying functions and controls in a smart way.


As every producer knows, wood material has a great deal of variation in moisture and stiffness, depending on the log size, ground, time and place of growth.

Variation also occurs inside every block, depending on which part of the block the veneer is peeled.

As raw material properties continuously change, the drying process must also adapt accordingly. Unfortunately, most of the drying solutions on the market simply don’t have any tools for that.

When quality and efficiency matters, the right solution is an intuitive drying process that automatically adjusts the speed, temperature and moisture for a given material batch with minimized energy usage.


The Drying ProcessTaking advantage of long experience with dryers, Raute, together with Mecano, has developed accurate veneer analyzers. The most advanced mills have earlier first adapted greyscale VDA and DMA brush meter analyzers, then upgrading and ending up with the latest G5 technology.

Mecano MVA was the first analyzer that made previously impossible low moisture analyzing a reality – setting a new standard for moisture grading. Mecano MVA-G is the game changer when the highest quality, recovery and smooth operation are required. When installed in a peeling line before clipping, it offers remarkable savings by accurately separating wet and dry veneer scanning through the veneer, instead of just the surface. In addition to accurate analyzes in low moistures, MVA finds uneven moisturized zebra veneer that causes great losses in drying. When spotted already in the peeling line, zebra veneer can be dried separately in different drying conditions.

The latest addition to Raute’s product family is Metriguard Veneer Tester DME 2805, which is the industry standard in the evaluation of veneer suitability for structural uses. Together with the VDA it brings the entire grading process up to a new level by enabling even a more efficient usage of raw material.


You need valid information to be able to improve the process. Efficient drying is possible when moisture and veneer properties are properly measured and gathered data utilized in the drying line. Drying will always be one of the most challenging processes in plywood and LVL production. However, with the right knowhow and tools, challenges can be transformed into a competitive advantage!


Stay tuned to hear more about VDA and DME 2805 integration with the Raute SmartMill concept.

A Finnish company developed a veneer bike

Wood-based products are now strongly experiencing a new era of popularity and new applications are found, for instance, in design.

THE BEAUTY and individual structure of wood is not the only reason that enhances the use of wood. Important factors are also the consumers’ interest in renewable materials and in endeavours to make ecological and sustainable choices. A good example of this is the Wiilubike – a bicycle with a body made of wood.

Wiilubike was developed by the Finnish Wood Innovations Finland Oy.

The starting point for the design of the wooden bike was to emphasize the possibilities of the utilisation of wood in products where it is traditionally not known to be used.

”A wooden bike as a thought felt sufficiently technical and outstanding, compared, for example, with traditional furniture”, says Ilari Alaruka, the founder of the company.

The design of Wiilubike is functional and simple and it really stands out. The bike was designed by means of 3D simulation. The style and initial prototypes and drawings were created directly from 3D files. The bodies of the production models are milled with a 5-shaft milling machine from a form-pressed blank, which guarantees a perfect fit of the metal and wooden components in the assembly. The manufacturing technique also enhances the manufacture of bodies of different sizes and shapes by changing the manufacturing tracks. Veneer of any species can be used for the face.

Raute New Applications
A Finnish company developed a veneer bike.

The business customers of Wiilubike are companies in the wood and forest industries, as well as companies, into whose values, operations and brands Wiilubike brings additional value for increased support and awareness. Some end user customers of Wiilubike wish to support the Finnish wood and forest industries, whereas others wish to communicate on the ecology. ”The owner of a Wiilubike is a brave and open-minded optimist, who lives to the full every moment”.

In terms of the material, strict requirements are set on the veneer quality. The veneer shall be strong and free of knots. The torsional rigidity required of the bike body is attained with carefully made glue lines and the correct grain directions. Nevertheless, the wooden body retains an appropriate elasticity and dampens vibrations on uneven ground without loosing its riding properties.

The veneer is peeled from birch blocks by Koskisen Oy with Raute lathes. The veneer is processed and form pressed into parts for the bike body. Other components are supplied by players in the field around the world, and assistance for the assembly is provided by the Finnish bike factory Salon Polkupyörätehdas.

LVL is unlocking the ‘timber age’

The great thing about timber is that it’s a renewable resource. It can be grown, selectively and sustainably harvested, then grown once again.

IN THE PAST of timber construction, the size of components equated with strength. Today, strength equates with intelligence, through engineered wood, such as LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber).

With newer advancements in peeling technology and lamination, manufacturers have been able to produce lighter and smaller LVL sections with a greater strength and longer span than sawn timber. As wood defects (i.e. strength reducing knots) have been removed and randomized within thin layers, LVL is stronger, straighter, and more uniform than traditional sawn timber. The phenomenon of shrinkage and swelling is reduced, saving the manufacturer costly callbacks on job sites. Due to its composite nature and pre-graded veneers for stiffness, LVL is much less likely to warp, twist or bow than tradition timber. LVL also has a lower thermal conductivity compared to bricks and concrete, combined with long span capability.

Without LVL, today’s homes would not have cost-efficient open plan living rooms, two-car garages free of centre support columns, or extra-wide doorways. LVL makes modern homes possible. Some major advantages of using LVL in construction are its relative low installation cost (minimum labour and high speed), and the fact that it can be manufactured to any length and desired shape. This opens up the door to a myriad of design possibilities, which make architects and professionals repeatedly come back for more.

Video test.


LVL demand across the globe is the function of usage rates multiplied by the level of construction activity in every market area (new housing starts, residential and non-residential projects, civil engineering etc.).LVL demand across the globe is the function of usage rates multiplied by the level of construction activity in every market area (new housing starts, residential and non-residential projects, civil engineering etc.).

As per Euroconstruct, construction volume in the eurozone grew by 3.5% in 2017. The strongest stimuli once again came from residential construction. Developments in 2017 were remarkable as growth in construction markets in Europe reached its highest level since 2006 (the outbreak of the international financial crisis) and housing demand rose in all 19 Euro zone members. This is the first time that growth has been seen across the board in Europe since the reunification of Germany; and it looks like this feat will be repeated in 2018.

The favourable development in EU construction demand is partly due to robust economic growth and its positive implications for household income, corporate profits and the state of public finances. Moreover, the low interest rate level, immigration and internal migration flows, as well as the investment backlog that has accumulated in areas like infrastructure since the financial crisis, is supporting the upswing.

In 2017 construction demand was the strongest in Hungary (+25%), the second smallest market in the EU area, followed by Ireland (+15%), Sweden (+10%), and Poland (+9%). Hungary also posted the highest growth rate forecasts for the next three years through to 2020 (+33%). In addition to state subsidies for residential construction, the more consistent use of EU funds especially for civil engineering will play an important role here. In the three-year growth projections, Hungary is once again followed by Ireland (+28%), Poland (+25%), the Czech Republic and Portugal (+15% respectively).

Raute Lvl Article Chart

In Germany, construction activity in 2017 increased more strongly than in 2016, driven by higher demand for residential accommodation, a greater willingness to invest on the part of companies and a civil engineering drive by the German government. Although growth will slow down significantly in the midterm, investment in both the residential and the infrastructure segments is expected to be high in the long term. In addition, Germany has a traditionally highly developed prefab industry (16% of a total of 20% timber frame share in building methods), which favours the usage of LVL due to its precise dimensions and stability.

UK construction companies had their best year in a decade for starting work on new homes in 2017 and the outlook for 2018 is positive. Housing completions in 2017 rose by 4% to 147,278, the highest number since 2008. UK Prime Minister Theresa May wants construction of new homes to rise to 300,000 units/ year to tackle a shortage of housing and make housing more affordable. By recent standards, 300,000 units per year is a very high number – the last time that many were completed in a year in UK was in the financial year 1969–70. It is not clear where the UK will find the labour it needs to build these homes. There are currently more than 350,000 fewer construction workers employed in the UK than there were in 2008 before the global recession hit. A substantial portion of the current construction labour force is foreign born – having mainly moved to Britain from eastern Europe. In a post-Brexit Britain, those labour market shortages will only become more pressing. This will open the gate for a higher usage of prefabricated off-site manufactured housing structures, which regularly require the usage of engineered wood products, such as LVL, I-Joists, glulam and openweb trusses.

The Scandinavian construction and civil engineering market appears to be levelling off. After three years of growth, a slowdown in construction output is expected in 2018 and 2019. The new housing starting in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Norway combined is still a modest number compared to large EU construction markets such as France and Germany. However, Scandinavian countries offer a high potential for LVL, as they have traditionally focused on timber in housing construction (70% timber frame share from new housing starts).

This, combined with a harsh climate and the need for fast construction and labour savings, will continue to favour off-site manufacturing with LVL and glulam used as framing solutions.



There has been a significant expansion of European LVL consumption over the past 10 years, as home and commercial builders increasingly adopt building systems that incorporate engineered timber. Consumption of LVL in Europe doubled from 65,000 m³ in 2000 to 125,000 m³ in 2004. Over the subsequent four years, LVL consumption increased by 11% annually, reaching 189,000 m³ in 2008.

In 2009 and 2010, volumes dropped to 184,520 m³ and then to 178,150 m³ because of the global financial crisis. However, it is notable that these drops were quite modest compared to the precipitous decline experienced in North America.

Since 2010, LVL consumption in Europe has risen consistently, averaging an annual growth rate of 11% over the past six years and reaching 373,450 m3 in 2017. (I-Joist flange consumption incl.)

The LVL consumption growth in Europe is supported by several factors: Increases in housing starts in key EU markets and the growth of the timberframe share of total EU residential and non-residential construction; Growth in demand for LVL flanges in I-joists versus solid timber flanges (in 2012, one of the largest European producers of I-joists, Steico, began using LVL flanges instead of solid timber flanges for its I-joist production); Growing trend toward the use of prefabricated components and modules in several key European construction markets, fostering greater demand for engineered timber; The entry of prominent new manufacturers, such as Pollmeier, Steico, and Stora Enso, has raised the profile of LVL as a viable solution for architects, engineers, and contractors.

The two largest LVL-consuming regions in Europe are Scandinavia and the UK, which together account for 54% of all LVL demand in Europe. While beams, rim board, headers, posts, and columns account for 98% of all LVL consumed in the Scandinavian region and only 2% is used in flanges for I-joists, in the UK on the other hand, due to an already well-developed I-joist market (the largest in Europe, with nearly 19 million lm consumed in 2017), this ratio is more balanced: 49% of all LVL consumed in UK is used in flanges for I-joists, and 51% in solid section applications.

Other important LVL markets in Europe include the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Poland, France & Benelux.

Over the next three years, LVL demand in Europe is forecasted to continue to grow with a projected average annual growth rate of 6%, reaching more than 440,000 m3 in 2020. This substantial LVL consumption increase will be supported by several key factors: Growing LVL usage rates and volumes, both as beams and headers, as well as I-Joist flanges; Builders’ needs to shorten building erection times, avoid costly equipment on site (e.g. cranes), reduce the cost of onsite labour, and eliminate callbacks; The trend toward slimmer wall cassettes, which can be realized with LVL ribs and panels in SIPs (structural insulated panels) allowing for increased living space, while achieving excellent heat exchange and acoustic properties.

The LVL markets across the globe are healthily positioned for sustainable growth.