Plywood consumption and production
The wood products industry uses Raute’s production machinery to process wood into veneer, plywood and LVL, which are used mainly in construction and furniture as well as in the transport vehicle and packaging industries.
Plywood is made by gluing veneers to each other with the grains crosswise.. Thanks to its strength properties and the appearance provided by a continuous wood pattern, plywood can be used for a wide range of applications. Plywood has retained its strong position in applications where structural strength and resistance to moisture, impact resistance and an attractive appearance are required. Various coatings add to the versatility of the applications.
A veneer product where the veneers are glued with the grains in the same direction is called LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber). LVL’s main end use is in construction, where it is an environmentally friendly alternative to steel and concrete. Load-bearing LVL structures that can withstand earthquakes offer special application possibilities. LVL is used to manufacture long and very strong beams used in load-bearing structures and large wood-based panel sheets. Various pine and spruce species are used as raw material. LVL is also used in furniture, doors and windows.
As the focus of general economic activity is shifting, the construction of new capacity for the plywood industry is also moving to the new emerging markets with new challenges.
Europeis an important market area for Raute, but the European companies operating in the field form a non-uniform customer base. The European plywood manufacturers are focusing on producing high value-added, high-quality end products. A high number of small manufacturers operate particularly in southern Europe.
The Finnish plywood industry is traditionally strong, which has helped Raute in establishing its current position. During the past few years, the investment focus has shifted from Finland to the Baltic countries and Russia. The plywood industry continues to develop also in many other countries like France and Poland.
Africa is a traditional supplier of round wood. The restrictions on wood exports in some important producer countries have increased the need for local further processing of wood. The African markets have traditionally been dominated by the European machine suppliers. In the future, the customers and investors will adopt more efficient process technologies – a trend that will open up new opportunities for Raute.
A quarter of the world’s forests is located in Russia. Other strengths of the plywood industry are the availability of skilled workforce and low labor costs. Plywood is primarily an export product in Russia, but as the country’s economy has developed, the domestic market has also gained strength. Birch is the primary raw material, but also spruce, pine and larch are used. The plywood industry’s situation is similar to that of Russia in other ex-Soviet countries like Belarus and Ukraine.
Most of the plywood manufactured in the Asia-Pacific area is used within the area. Plywood is exported e.g. to the Middle East, the U.S. and Europe. The Asian plywood production is based on the use of tropical wood species, such as meranti and keruing, as raw materials. The use of small diameter plantation trees, such as acacia and albizzia, is increasing. Various pine and eucalyptus species are used for plywood in the Pacific area. There are numerous plantation forests in Australia and New Zealand. Plantation forests play an increasingly important role also in China and South-East Asia.
North America is the world’s biggest area producing softwood plywood and LVL. The area also has a considerable veneer and plywood industry utilizing hardwood. The market area is wide and production is strongly concentrated with major forestry industry corporations. 65 percent of the plywood and 85 percent of the LVL are produced by the five largest companies. Demand for plywood and LVL is primarily driven by the US economy, particularly housing construction.