Commissioning under the midnight sun

Aug 4, 2023

At the same time Kemi, and other places north of the Arctic Circle, were enjoying the midnight sun, hectic work continued at Metsä Fibre’s bioproduct mill project site. The project has reached a commissioning phase, which precedes the start-up.

Metsä Fibre’s bioproduct mill project site in Kemi on May 2023.

Commissioning started at the site in November 2022 by testing the compressed air station. Now commissioning is ongoing in all project areas and is progressing gradually. Some installations and erection work are partly conducted in parallel with our commissioning activities. 

Commissioning is a hectic phase, but what does it mean in practice? Let’s ask more from Mikael Lindström, who manages Valmet’s commissioning activities at the Kemi bioproduct mill project site. Mikael has over twenty years of experience in commissioning and start-ups, e.g., from an aluminum plant and paper mills. At Valmet, he has worked since 2000. 

"Aim of commissioning is to test that installed machines and systems operate as designed and are safe to use. After erection, installations, programs, and interlocks are checked. Each device and its installation are inspected before commissioning. During commissioning, the system is filled up and circulated with water so that we can ensure everything is working as it should. This phase will take around 1-3 months, varying between the different areas.”

"Checking new equipment and starting is always risky so we must be cautious and minimize the risks. Good communication is the key. In Kemi, we have daily morning meetings for all companies and people working in the area to inform them of our activities and plans for the day and the following day. We also have joint site meetings every morning to share information about the activities that affect the different areas. 

“The scale of this project brings its own special features. We don’t often have projects that are this huge. Coordination is always important in the commissioning phase, but in this kind of megaproject, it’s even more important, also from the safety point of view. The fact that we are doing erection and commissioning partly at the same time is challenging and requires extra coordination.” 

A new completion follow-up tool called Omega Pims was implemented in the Kemi project.  “Naturally, it was s a bit challenging to implement a new tool during the site work, but it has provided us better control and an overview of our activities every moment.” 

Commissioning is usually done in person, so Mikael also moved to Tornio, located near the project site, already in August 2022. “Lapland was familiar place for me, so moving here was not so big thing. Time here has gone well,” Mikael says and concludes:

 I like working with commissioning. The work challenging, so you learn something new every day. I also enjoy seeing the start and finish of what I'm doing, and ensuring that customer can start-up and operate the mill safely and as designed.


Photos: Metsä Group