Contractor Kone Lahtinen is working at one of the biggest wood production sites in Finland with a little help from Volvo Construction Equipment.
Bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east and Estonia to the south, Finland is known for its abundance of forests and beautiful national parks. The timber industry is one of Finland’s oldest with most of its production (60%) going for export, making Finland one of Europe’s biggest producers of lumber.
Kone Lahtinen OY is contracted to work for Koskisen – a wood production company at its Kȁryȍlȁ Jarvela site near Lahti – 80km from Helsinki. Koskisen employs 900 people and has production units in Jarvela, Hirvensalmi and Vierumaki in Finland and Sheksna in Russia. Koskisen needs one million cubic meters of timber every year to meet its contracts and has about 80 machines in total working at the Kȁryȍlȁ site, predominately wheel loaders, and forklifts. A Finnish family run business, Koskisen is known as a reliable and responsible purchaser of wood.
The company manages spruce, pine and birch plantations – but it’s the birch that is most commonly used for making plywood. Some of the birch comes by rail from Russia but the entire process from getting the logs delivered, cut, treated and wrapped for delivery is done at the Finnish site. During the winter months, birch logs first need to be defrosted in a warm water bath (because it’s common for the wood to freeze in temperatures of -30oC).
The site produces wood used for many applications, including house building, interior design, construction and flooring. The end product, which has been dried and treated for the correct application, is then exported to customers as far afield as Saudi Arabia, Japan, China and Australia.
About 100 trailers of timber are delivered to the site every day, and to keep up with demand, Kone Lahtinen OY operates a fleet of 20 Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) machines. This includes L350F, L180F, L120F and L180G wheel loaders, featuring grab and grapple attachments for quick and easy log handling. The company also has a Volvo EW200 wheeled excavator at work at other sawmills.
The L350F-Series wheel loader has already clocked up an incredible 24,000 hours over five years, with an average fuel consumption of 18.5 liters an hour – and its maintenance has been extremely low during this period.
Operators agree that the L350F is easy and comfortable to operate, leading to fast cycle times and sustained high performance throughout the working day – reducing fatigue levels. A spacious air-conditioned Volvo Care Cab is insulated from noise, dust and vibrations due to viscous cab mounts and a suspended seat.
“About 15 years ago we used just one brand of machinery for all our operations – until we got a taste of a Volvo L90 C-Series wheel loader in 1995,” says Pertti Lahtinen, owner of Kone Lahtinen OY. “The L90 clocked 25,000 hours in 24 hour shifts throughout its lifetime without any problems. We still have different brands of machinery but 90% of the work is now done by our Volvos because of the machines’ superior fuel efficiency and performance. The Volvos are a lot more fuel efficient, which keeps our costs down and allows us to be more profitable.”
The Volvo wheel loaders, fitted with grab attachments, unload the logs from the delivery trailers in one go, carrying up to 30 tonnes of wood at a time. They are then stacked into different piles on site, ready to be loaded back onto the conveyor belts for cutting and treating. The smaller off-cuts, chippings and sawdust are used for heating purposes.
Pertti Lahtinen’s father established the business in the 1950s and Pertti took over when he was just 15 years old. After developing the business, he now employs 80 workers in total and 35 of them work at the Kȁryȍlȁ site as machine operators. There are also three full time mechanics on site servicing the machines.
“It can get very cold here but these conditions don’t affect our operations or our machines,” says Lahtinen. “We operate 24 hours a day so it’s important that our machinery is up to the job. The Volvo machines are built with Nordic countries in mind so the weather is never a problem and the cabs are warm too.”
Volvo CE’s dealer in Finland – Volvo CE Finland – has worked with Kone Lahtinen for more than 20 years and established a good relationship. “We had been in contact with Kone Lahtinen for quite some time and were waiting for a chance to show them what Volvos could do,” says sales manager Jan-Peter Nybäck. “We got our chance when the customer was unhappy with a competitor’s machine that had lower lifting capacity than an older Volvo model. That’s when the customer purchased the L90C wheel loader –and its Volvo fleet grew from there. ”