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Robots promote job satisfaction

Robots have taken over the heavy manual labour at the old cutting factory at Moelven Byggmodul AS. More job satisfaction, improved accuracy and safer working conditions are just some of the benefits provided by the robots at the factory.

“Getting things to work has been very frustrating. The robots do the work, but the humans behind them are the ones who make things work.” says Atle Holmlund Løkken.

Mr. Løkken, who is a qualified carpenter, has now become a CNC operator on one of the company’s two production lines. The robot and CNC machines prepare the finished materials and sheet packs for the modules.

Investing in people

 

“We have invested approx. NOK 32 million on new machinery and buildings. At the same time we have given our employees both the time and opportunity to learn about the machines properly. Anyone can buy machinery, but it is the people who make the difference,” says Factory Manager Rolf Johan Sørli.

Questions and answers

Have employees been replaced by machines?

No employees have been replaced by machines. Employees who previously worked as carpenters have been given training and are now working as robot operators.

What do the robot and CNC machine do?

The CNC machine has taken over the work that was previously carried out at various work stations at the factory. This machine prepares the kit required for walls with finished sills, uprights, interties and similar components with cuts, holes and marks so that they can be assembled like Lego blocks instead of having to be processed inside the factory.

The Biesse machine formats sheets around doors and windows, ventilation holes and holes for electrical applications.

This makes production easier, more efficient and safer.

What does Moelven Byggmodul AS manufacture?

Moelven Byggmodul AS manufactures modules for construction rigs and buildings for schools, kindergartens and offices. The factory manufactures over 50 modules per week.

What impact has this investment had?

When the machines now approach optimal function, the modules in the factory are produced more efficiently. The machines are currently still in the start-up phase, so their effects cannot yet be fully measured. This project has had a very positive impact on the working environment in the cutting factory, something which is evident from lower absence from work due to illness, etc.

 

Photo: Moelven.

These words saved Fredric’s life

Looking out for one another can mean all the difference between life and death.

“If Lars Kristen hadn’t reminded me to put my helmet on, I probably wouldn’t be here today,” says company driver Fredric Liögård.

See the moving story which shows how a few words can change everything:

On 19 February 2019 the father of four, Fredric, was visiting Moelven Vänerply in Otterbäcken in Sweden to pick up and transport some sheets. After loading up the goods he climbed up onto his lorry to strap down the sheets. As he was doing so, Lars Kristen Holst, a business developer at Moelven, walked past.

“He looked at me and told me in a friendly manner that I had forgotten my helmet. So I climbed down and went to get it, before climbing back up again,” says Fredric.

Just after that the unexpected happened. Fredric lost his balance and fell four to five metres down onto the tarmac, headfirst.

Broken helmet

“Both of his wrists were pointing the wrong way, so we knew that they were broken. We understood that it was extremely painful, but apart from that we were most concerned about what had happened to his neck and back,” says Lars Kristen, who was the first one at the scene of the accident.

In addition to breaking his wrists, it turned out that Fredric has punctured both lungs, broken seven ribs and suffered a blow to his head. His helmet was completely damaged.

The helmet that Fredric was wearing cracked when he fell off the lorry. Photo: Hans Haug.

Means more than we think

“Colleagues who care are the most effective safety equipment that we have. Stopping and daring to say something can mean more than we might think. Lars Kristen’s friendly reminder is proof of that,” says Anne Cathrine Amdahl, the HSE Manager at Moelven.

Today Fredric is now back at work fulltime and is full of praise for what Lars Kristen did.

“I am incredibly grateful to him for reminding me to put my helmet on, otherwise I wouldn’t have done it.”

 

All photos: Photo: Hans Haug.

Skyscraper manager: - Look up to Norway!

The Chairman of the Board of the international skyscraper organisation describes Mjøstårnet as “a step into the future”.

 

Rune Abrahamsen, the Director of Moelven Limtre, Steve Watts, the Chairman of the Board of the CTBUH and building contractor Arthur Buchardt in front of Mjøstårnet.

“Mjøstårnet has made it easier for others to choose sustainable solutions,” says Steve Watts, the Chairman of the Board of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH).

On Tuesday he visited the 85.4 metre tall landmark in Brumunddal in order to officially recognise it as the world’s tallest wooden building. The Chairman of the Board was very impressed by what he saw, and he describes Mjøstårnet as being exceptional.

A step into the future

Mr. Watts believes that this new world record will have a major impact on cities in the future.

“As populations expand and buildings become closer, we need to build taller, but sustainable, buildings. One way of doing this is to use smart climate materials. Wood is our oldest and most sustainable building material,” says the Chairman of the Board, adding:

“There will be a queue of people who will want to look and learn from what has been done at Mjøstårnet. It feels like we have taken a step into the future!”

 

With this plaque Chairman of the Board Steve Watts and the CTBUH have confirmed that Mjøstårnet is the world’s tallest wooden building.

Norwegian innovation

The skyscraper organisation, CTBUH, has developed international standards for measuring tall buildings, and they are responsible for awarding statuses such as “the world’s tallest building”. The Chairman of the Board now thinks that people need to look up to Norway.

“You have created something that has never been done before! I know how much effort has been put into this project, and I want to congratulate everyone involved. Wood is a resource which is under-utilised and which we should be using to create more buildings. It is not only good for the environment, it is also a building material which makes you feel good,” says Mr. Watts.

Agricultural Minister praises Moelven for innovative thinking

Olaug Bollestad visited Moelven on Tuesday in order to present the Government’s strategy on increased activities in the forestry and wood industries.

The Minister believes that the company, which focuses on digitalisation, etc., is extremely aware of thinking in a green, innovative manner.

“Moelven is a company which engages in innovative thinking, but which simultaneously looks after its employees well and provides them with the opportunity to acquire new knowledge,” says Olaug Bollestad, who wants the forestry and wood industries to play a key role in creating a sustainable welfare society.

Agricultural Minister Olaug Bollestad was given a guided tour of Moelven Limtre when she presented the Government’s strategy.

Around 40% of the Norwegian mainland is forested, and forests are increasing by around 25 million cubic metres of timber each year. The Government believes that if we take advantage of the opportunities presented, our forestry resources could contribute towards the sustainable development of society, green restructuring of the economy and profitable new jobs.

The Government’s new strategy is designed to increase research, development and innovation activities in the forestry and wood industries, as well as boost the demand for green wood-based products.

Photo: Moelven.

Value creation at the Crown Prince’s Conference

Four of Moelven’s experts are attending the “SIKT” Conference where the topic this year is value creation. “It is an honour to be chosen to represent a company which supports sustainable value creation in Norway,” says Elisabeth Davis.

The four Moelven employees who have been chosen to attend are Petter Fjeld Bjerke, Anita Mørdre, Elisabeth Davis and Simen Kristiansen. This annual conference, which is organised by Crown Prince Haakon, is attended each year by 200 participants from all over the country. Its purpose is to create a meeting place for young managers and talented employees between the ages of 20 and 40.

Extra rewarding when Moelven attends

Petter Fjeld Bjerke, Operations Manager at Moelven Mjøsbruket AS, thinks that it is particularly rewarding to be able to attend the conference when Moelven is involved.

“Dinner is served in the Laminates Hall and CEO Morten Kristiansen will be giving a lecture there,” says Mr. Bjerke.

He is looking forward to the workshop on values and value creation. He says: “This will be an opportunity to learn from other young people who have different roles in companies from all over Norway, so I am really looking forward to this.”

Petter Fjeld Bjerke, Operations Manager at Moelven Mjøsbruket AS.

 

Knowledge sharing

Anita Mørdre, Finance Manager at Moelven Industrier ASA, is looking forward to representing Moelven in the talks being held about value creation.

“I am very grateful and feel humbled by the fact that I have been given the opportunity to attend. The conference topic is a topical one. We will be able to discuss the future of Norway and how we can help to provide sound value creation and, of course, a future built using wood,” says Ms Mørdre.

Anita Mørdre, Financial Manager at Moelven Industrier ASA.

 

Lecture from Oxford University

Simen Kristiansen, Marketing Manager at Moelven Wood AS, is looking forward to a lecture to be held by Ian Golding from Oxford University about how we can navigate through future opportunities and challenges.

“We will really be placing Moelven on the map when our CEO presents his observations about value creation to some fo the most skilled and talented young manager in Norway, says the Marketing Manager, who is pleased and proud to be able to attend SIKT.

Simen Krististiansen, Marketing Manager at Moelven Wood AS.

 

Inspiration for the way forward

Elisabeth Davis, Business Developer, Logistics at Moelven Industrier ASA, is hoping to gain inspiration that she can use in her job.

“I am working on making constant improvements to the value chain which are designed to benefit both Moelven and its employees. Value creation is affected by the effectiveness of our operations, so the topics we will hear and discuss are particularly relevant to my everyday work,” says Ms Davis.

Photo: Moelven. 

How artificial intelligence can make Moelven more sustainable

Moelven can undertake even smarter work by using cameras, microphones and pioneering technology. This is how Moelven’s digital sawmill is taking a new step into the future.

“This has the potential to become a revolution,” says Moelven’s Operations Engineer Johan Berglund when talking about a project which is currently undergoing tests.

Dozens of cameras have been installed at Moelven’s largest sawmill, Moelven Valåsen AB in Karlskoga to film machines as they cut and saw logs. The aim is to reduce the number of production stoppages and thus save energy and cut costs.

When faults cause the machinery at the sawmill to stop operating, the computer system which controls the cameras can retrieve a film which shows exactly what happened just before things went wrong. It makes it possible for operators to analyse the situation in order to avoid similar production stoppages. By using artificial intelligence the system can also learn to recognise what happens before problems arise. Consequently operators can be warned in time and Moelven can avoid production stoppages.

Unique concept

“This could be a very effective tool for the company. We do not need to remove many production stoppages before we start to save large sums of money, and a lot of energy,” says Mr. Berglund.

He says that the concept is unique.

“Our suppliers and our business partner have never done this before, and I do not know anyone else who has similar solutions. It is huge fun being part of such a pioneering concept,” he says.

Can hear faults

Like cameras, microphones can also help Moelven to better understand the properties of timber.

“By installing microphones in the machinery which processes the timber, we can hear those sounds which are different and teach the system to listen for faults. It is actually more challenging to interpret acoustics than to study films, but we have applied for funding to conduct more research on this,” says Mr. Berglund.

Smart digital sawmills

This concept, which is now being tested at Moelven Valåsen in Sweden, is a development of Moelven’s “Smart digital sawmills” pilot project. The aim of this project is to digitalise sawmills and make them more profitable and sustainable.

By using the IoT (Internet of Things), sensors, Big Data and new analysis methods, Moelven has gained a unique insight into what sawmills of the future may look like.

Moelven Eidsvold Værk AS closing

The Board of Moelven Eidsvold Værk AS has decided to close down the company. This will take place during the course of the first quarter of 2020. The employees were informed about the decision at a meeting held on Monday afternoon.

“This is a sad day for our employees of Moelven Eidsvold Værk, and also in Moelven’s history. It is with a particularly heavy heart that we are winding up such a traditional company, but the company’s costs are too high to justify future operations,” says Bjarne Hønningstad, the Chairman of the Board at Moelven Eidsvold Værk.

The company, which combines both sawing and planing operations, has around 60 employees. 

“We are now engaged in talks with our employees and their representatives. We will do everything in our power to help those re-entering the labour market and look at any work opportunities available within the Moelven group,” says Bjarne Hønningstad.

The local NAV office has been informed about the forthcoming closure of Moelven Eidsvold Værk AS so that they can help those employees who are affected.

High costs

At the end of August the employees were told that the Board was considering closure of the business. The Board attributed the closure to high operating costs and the fact that substantial investments would be required in order to make operations profitable in a more normal market situation than that of the last few years. Investigations were initiated in order to consider what would be required to ensure future operations, and these have now been concluded.

“It was concluded that we can no longer justify future operations at Moelven Eidsvold Værk. We can manage to produce the same products at a much lower cost at the group’s other combined sawing and planing mills. Moelven also has many long-term investment projects, and the investment requirements of Moelven Eidsvold Værk are too high to warrant priority being placed on this company, rather than on more profitable projects,” says Mr. Hønningstad.

Photo: Moelven.

Linda and Mahamad receive help to find jobs

Prime Minister Erna Solberg was impressed when she visited Moelven Numedal on Wednesday. She thinks that more employers should take a leaf out of the sawmill’s book.

“I think it’s great working here, and I really appreciate having the opportunity,” says Linda Vatningen Nilsen, supported by Mahamad Hassan Mahamad.

They are both employed as timber workers at Moelven Numendal in Buskerud and their responsibilities include packaging timber and preparing it for loading. Their jobs at the sawmill were created under a joint venture between Moelven and NAV (the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration), under which NAV covers a percentage of their pay.

“We want a lot more employers like Moelven! It’s great that they have decided to make use of people who have had trouble finding jobs, and who would probably not have managed otherwise,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

Linda and Mahamad are enjoying their work at Moelven Numedal. 

However, they are not the only ones to benefit from the joint venture.

“Moelven’s personnel policy involves providing opportunities for people who are keen to work. At the same time this helps us to recruit competent new employees. We are dependent on posting on having good employees,” says General Manager Rune Frogner at Moelven Numedal.

This job has meant a lot to Mahamad, who came to Norway in 2014.

He says: “I really enjoy practical work, and I am happy that I have now found a job. He adds that even though the sawmill is a bit noisy, he can at least practice speaking Norwegian.

Photo: Moelven.

Self-drive forklift trucks being considered at Moelven

Moelven have invested NOK 30 million on a new distribution centre at Longmoen in Brumunddal. This upgrade marks the start of a new technological journey for Moelven which could end up with self-drive FLTs in the future.

Moelven Langmoen AS is a national distribution centre for the products of Moelven Wood. “This new investment in technology, buildings and the packing line is improving logistical efficiency and thus ensuring that the distribution centre is ready to meet increased demand.

“This investment is providing us with good foundations for future growth and development. Growth in sales, and the fact that we have taken over some of Moelven’s in-house tasks, are responsible for ensuring an increase in the volume of deliveries received and delivered by the facility, to the tune of 1,000 lorries per year,” says Director Sven Egil Holmsen, Director at Moelven Langmoen. This means that a total of 6,000 lorries per year will be coming to Langmoen.

Digitalisation

In addition to new buildings and warehouse facilities, Moelven Langmoen have commenced digitalisation of the warehouse.  

“We are introducing digital localisation of all packs, and this will be rolled out for the entire Langmoen area during the course of 2019.  During the forthcoming years we will also start using different technology in order to further improve logistical efficiency. This is necessary to enable us to adapt to growth and increasingly more customised orders from customers,” explains Mr. Holmsen.

“Self-drive FLTs are one example of technology that will be considered in the future. We will start looking into the available options with the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) during the course of the year,” says Mr. Holmsen.

Better working environment

The company’s investments in new buildings are also providing better working conditions for its employees, since the company is transferring more operations under one roof.

“We want to have good, safe working conditions, and the comfort of our employees is considerably improved when we can carry out more work by being protected from snow flakes and the north wind,” concludes Mr. Holmsen.

Moelven gives NOK 500,000 to Save the Children Norway

Some presents never end up under the tree. One example was Moelven’s NOK 500,000 Christmas present to Save the Children Norway.

Every year since 2015 Moelven has given a large present to Save the Children Norway. Instead of giving a present to each and every one of the company’s 3,400 employees, Moelven chooses a charity as a substitute for the traditional company Christmas present. 

“Once again this year our present went to Save the Children Norway. We feel that supporting their efforts is extremely meaningful. We are proud that we can contribute towards schooling and educational opportunities for children who live in some of the world’s most impoverished countries,” says CEO Morten Kristiansen at Moelven.

Mr. Kristiansen says that Moelven’s gift to Save the Children Norway is a tradition that has been well received by the company’s employees. 

He says: “By giving a sizeable monetary gift to Save the Children Norway, we can jointly help to make a difference to other people, something that really matters.” 

Saving children

The Secretary General of Save the Children Norway, Birgitt Lange, is very grateful to Moelven and the company’s employees for their fantastic, generous Christmas present. 

She says: “Moelven’s support over the course of many years provides Save the Children Norway with the opportunity to continue its important work on ensuring that many children and young people receive high quality education.” 

Save the Children fights for the rights of children and for ensuring that all children can survive, learn and be safe. They work in 120 countries and are the world’s leading independent children’s organisation.

Photo: Save the Children Norway