Andritz Oy is a leading global supplier of systems, equipment and services for the pulp, paper and energy industries. These industries have strong roots at Andritz’s facilities and workshop in Varkaus.
The history of the metal industry in Varkaus dates back to the early 19th century when the first foundries were set up in the city. Paul Wahl established a workshop in Varkaus in 1851, and its operations gradually developed to include equipment manufacturing. The workshop started out making small steam engines, and later expanded into the shipping industry.
After a period of making steam engines for ships, the workshop eventually turned to manufacturing equipment for pulp mills. Having acquired the workshop in Varkaus from Wahl in the 1910s, the Ahlström family started developing equipment for the needs of the forest industry, and Andritz’s facilities in Varkaus still continue this tradition to this day.
“After many twists and turns, Andritz AG acquired the pulp industry business at the turn of the millennium from the owner of the company at the time, Ahlström Machinery Oy,” says Regional Manager at Andritz Marko Luokkanen.
Today, Andritz’s product branches in Finland are wood processing, fibre processes, chemical recovery and stock preparation, in addition to various systems, equipment and services for energy production. Luokkanen believes that Andritz has decided to remain in Varkaus, because of the huge amount of expertise that has gathered there. Andritz is one of the biggest global players in its industry.
The company’s employees have played a big role in the success of Andritz. Talented individuals have managed to develop both process engineering and mechanical equipment solutions. Luokkanen points out that no matter how good the manufactured equipment is, you also have to sell, deliver and assemble it. That is the core expertise of Andritz.
The international spirit of Andritz stems from the choices made by the workshop in Varkaus with regards to the pulp industry back in the 1940s and 1950s. The market in Finland was just starting to mature, and the company set out to find new markets abroad. Even to this day, most of Andritz’s market is overseas.
“Over the course of Andritz’s history, the right decisions have been made as to the product portfolio, and the company has boldly set its sights abroad. That is the legacy we continue to live, even though our products and equipment have evolved and grown along the way. Andritz itself has grown constantly to become a more significant player,” says Luokkanen.
Andritz continues to boldly innovate new products. One of the new trends is utilizing plant side streams even more effectively. Andritz aims to develop solutions that could reduce the consumption of raw materials, energy and chemicals in plants while also improving customers’ business opportunities.
One example of these new solutions is a bio-methanol plant supplied to Sweden, where the side streams of plant processes can be used to process methanol and sell it to the market as purified methanol. For the customer, this has proven a highly profitable investment in a new business area. As for Andritz, it is an innovation featuring new technology that will hopefully open up new markets for other customers as well.
Luokkanen urges other companies to also show the same courage and innovation. You need to believe in your products and sell them. Selling will facilitate learning, even though you will probably also make mistakes along the way.
“You should boldly and openly set out to pursue your vision and do not try to do too much on your own, but build networks with the right partners,” says Luokkanen.
Andritz aims to utilize the expertise in the region of Varkaus for its projects. Partnerships are extremely important for Andritz. Its supply chain consists of about one hundred subcontractors who are an integral part of the overall supply process.
“We rely on our network of local subcontractors whenever we can,” says Regional Manager at Andritz Oy Marko Luokkanen.
Text: Minna Akiola