Two decades with peeling technologies – Mikko Vesterinen, Head of Plywood Production

Ville Nikunen

Mikko, Head of Plywood Process at Raute, focuses more on factory-wide projects and, above all, the development of the entire plywood production process.

It was clear to Mikko from a young age that he wanted to pursue a career in engineering, particularly in the field of mechanical wood processing. The wide range of engineering disciplines and the opportunity to work in the high technology sector fascinated Mikko, and he was also influenced by his family – Mikko's father also worked in the field of mechanical wood processing. 

"I started at Raute in 1997 when I got my first summer job from the factory as a mechanical wood engineering student." After the first summer, Mikko worked all his vacations at Raute, progressing to become a design intern and later a thesis worker in 1999. Immediately after graduating, Mikko was offered a permanent employment contract. "I have enjoyed my entire career at Raute, and I haven't needed to go anywhere else." 

From Service to Peeling Technologies 

In the early years in Raute, Mikko worked in the research department before moving to Services. During his years as a Service Manager, he worked closely with J-P Salimäki and Timo Kangas developing the Service business. During this time, Mikko became familiar with Raute's customers and their factories, especially in Finland and South America. "Wood is a unique, living raw material, and understanding its behavior requires immersing oneself in the customers' environment – where wood is processed. Experiencing customer factories first-hand is the only way to truly learn how our machines work, how customers process wood, how different wood species are suitable for producing veneer or plywood, and how to make the processing of raw materials as efficient and sustainable as possible."   

Mikko's journey at Raute continued as a Technology Manager in the field of peeling, replacing Jussi Puranen in 2009. Mikko had already become familiar with peeling and its training, as they were often integral parts of service agreements. "The peeling process and related technologies have actually changed very little over the past twenty years. Of course, the level of automation has increased, and work safety has improved significantly. In addition, the development of machine vision and Analyzer solutions has significantly improved the utilization rate and value creation of raw materials."   

Now Mikko works as the Head of Plywood Process. In this role, Mikko focuses more on factory-wide projects and, above all, the development of the entire plywood production process.   

Technology will play an important role in solving challenges facing our industry 

When asked about the legacy he hopes to eventually leave behind in this world, Mikko responds modestly, "I consider Raute's hybrid lathe (Veneer Peeling Line R7-hybrid) as my personal favorite, which I hope to see conquer the world. I genuinely hope it becomes the world's leading peeling technology, both in terms of high yield and more sustainable and energy-efficient peeling. In other words, I want to see that embarking on the development of this technology proves to be the right decision." Digitalization and especially AI will also fundamentally transform technology, but it will take longer than the current hype leads us to believe, Mikko estimates. "Although there is a lot of hype, this journey will be taken one step at a time." 

To finish things off, Mikko underlines that he believes in successes achieved together with customers. "I believe that together with our customers, we can significantly improve and promote the automation level of production facilities, thereby addressing challenges affecting our entire industry, such as workforce availability."