04.11.2016

Kuhmo - unique ecosystem around massive wood construction in Finland

The Finnish town Kuhmo hosts the first cross-laminated timber (CLT) factory in the country. It also has special expertise in wood construction. Woodpolis, together with its partner network of private companies and educational institutes, supports the woodworking industry by developing new innovations in the field of wood construction.

Kuhmo is a small town with around 9000 inhabitants. It is situated in North-East Finland, roughly 600 kilometers from Helsinki. Even if the town is small, the municipality covers an extensively forested land area twice the size of Luxembourg. Kuhmo provides an excellent ecosystem for CLT production, product development and wood construction based on the high level of know-how of companies in the region, their reliability, as well as the high quality of wooden raw material.


The local wood building cluster’s turnover is EUR 100 million. The goal for 2020 is to reach EUR 200 million.


Woodpolis: R&D, education and training factory


Woodpolis is an expert organization owned by the town of Kuhmo. It was established in 2006 with a mission to promote wood industry entrepreneurship by developing, in collaboration with the industry, innovations in the wood construction. Woodpolis provides product development services in the area. It also arranges training, together with educational institutions and by itself, for the woodworking industry, especially in the construction of wooden houses.


“Woodpolis offers training services also for foreign companies, universities and research organizations,” tells Tapani Kiiskinen, Development Director at Woodpolis. “Recently a group of Columbia University (N.Y.) students spent a week in Kuhmo cooperating with Finnish Aalto University.”


Kiiskinen outlines that the whole value chain of CLT production is present in Kuhmo and that the companies greatly benefit from the collaboration.
 

It all starts with high-quality timber – Kuhmo Ltd.


A local sawmill, Kuhmo Ltd, sources its raw material from the forests in the area.


The sawmill operations of Kuhmo Ltd. commenced in 1959 and all operations have been centralized in Kuhmo since 1986. The annual production capacity has expanded from some 90,000 m3 to 400,000 m3. This is due to an intensive investment program of more than EUR 100 million, containing two saw lines: completely renewed piece handling technology and kiln-drying. Other important areas of the program include bioenergy investments for creating heat and electricity from the sawmill by-products and the production of solid biofuel.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tapani Kiiskinen from Woodpolis is showing Finpro’s Sari Toivonen around in Kuhmo CrossLam’s factory. These CLT boards are being produced for a new wooden school in Kuhmo. The school will be the first CLT framed school in Finland. (Image: Martti Huusko/HuZZa Oy)

 

Transforming timber into solid end product – CrossLam Kuhmo Ltd.


According to Juha Virta, CEO, CrossLam Kuhmo Ltd, the market for cross-laminated timber is growing globally and also in Finland.
CrossLam Kuhmo is Finland’s first CLT producer. Virta describes the factory as a largescale cutting board, where designs are produced according to the client's needs.


“With CLT, the focus shifts from standardization to uniqueness. Elements are not produced to sit in storage, but literally each piece is produced according to its own unique requirements, leading to a perfect line from demand to supply.”

 

 

CrossLam cooperates with Elementti Sampo Ltd, a local prefabricated wood element manufacturer using CrossLam’s CLT. There are also local window manufacturers in Kuhmo; basically all components for pre-fabricated elements can be produced locally.


Another competitive company in the Kuhmo ecosystem is Timber Frame Ltd. The company is an experienced manufacturer and exporter of custom-made high-quality Finnish log houses. It is exporting mainly to Germany. The log frame manufactured by using Timber Frame’s air tight new technique round log corner fulfills even the most demanding energy requirements.

 

Timber Frame’s custom-made high-quality log houses are made of robust northern wood. (Image: Martti Huusko/HuZZa Oy)


Top site for investments

 

Sari Toivonen, Senior Advisor at Finpro’s Invest in Finland unit has been actively promoting industrial wood construction since 2011. She is pleased with the active and innovative approach of the Finnish companies and welcomes foreign investors to Finland.


“Finland is a great location for serving global wood construction markets. We have local expertise and excellent raw material resources. Kuhmo is a great example of our well-working ecosystem, interesting partners and business opportunities for foreign companies.”