Russia: Staying ahead of the game

Kira Lukianova

Interview with Jouni Putkonen and Ruslan Meleshkin during the Woodex 2021 exhibition in December in Moscow

Russia: Staying ahead of the game

One of the liveliest trends in 2021 in Russian wood processing industry was significant growth in engineered wood products as well as in glued products. Demand for this kind of machinery and equipment saw significant growth, as noticed by many who visited the Woodex 2021 exhibition. But staying competitive under that big a hype not only requires the plywood or LVL producers to obtain modern technologies but to consider a complex approach for choosing and maintaining machinery.      

Investing into results rather than into machinery — that’s what Raute, the Finland-based company, one of the biggest players on the global market, being able to organize a full-scale LVL and plywood production offers to its customers.

Solution for any task

“We deliver both separate lathes and whole mills, also giving technological support to our customers through our experts or by training the customer’s staff. In 2020 when pandemic changed the ways how the customers chose the equipment, we also reconsidered our portfolio.

Now we offer three product line series of technological equipment to our potential Customers, from which they can choose what they need based on their planned output and budgets”, — explained Ruslan Meleshkin, the CEO of LLC Raute Service during our conversation at the exhibition stand.

For the companies that are about to enter the market of glued products, optimal solution would be the R3-Series product line. This kind of equipment allows for processing any kind of raw wood, and in the future when designed capacity has been reached and more capacity is needed, output can be increased by modernizing the machinery.

The R5-Series product line also allows for improving the performance, if needed. It can be done by modernizing separate units without having to replace the whole line.

Should the manufacturer be ready to have the mill automated from top to bottom, so his choice would be the R7-Series product line, which utilizes automation and scanners, allowing for better performance and higher speed.

The customer’s success is the manufacturer’s goal

“You can just sell equipment and be done about it, but we strive for more: to not only sell reliable equipment and lines to our customers but help them run those lines in the most effective ways possible, to achieve the performance and quality that the customers want. Our goal is to help the customers in multiple ways for them to achieve their targets. And that’s only possible within the complex approach” – says the head of the Raute service center in Russia, Ruslan Meleshkin

The main idea behind this is that Raute’s experts not only help the customer in choosing a right set of equipment but also render full-scale assistance in running that equipment. Raute has taken its maintenance services to a high level, having set up quite a few service centers in Russia. Those were set up in a short time: three years ago, Raute had only seven service engineers in Russia, today it has fifteen, the number is estimated at twenty-one by the beginning of 2022.

“We’re considering stationary services, which means providing those services to our customers under an outsource contract. I won’t lie, not all manufacturers of glued products are ready for that. Many still think they can maintain complex machinery in a proper way themselves.

But the truth is that one’d need a solid competence in that field. Only the manufacturer can provide high quality services, which will not only make the machinery usable but highly reliable and effective”, — reminds  Mr. Meleshkin.

The market is on the rise, investments are pouring in

“Russian plywood market has been on the rise, 2019-2020 were quite good for it, and based on results of 2021 we can clearly see positive dynamics. There’s a few factors supporting this development, one of them being the ban on export of round timber. We think it’ll support the Russian plywood manufacturers.  Even despite the antidumping duties imposed by EU, — I’m pretty positive that the Russian manufacturers will find other markets to sell their products to.

Today the global output of plywood is 100–120 million cubic meters annually. Russia produces about 4 million mᶟ, this figure possibly increasing up to 6 and even 8 million mᶟ. We feel that potential in how much manufacturers are interested in our products. The LVL segment has quite good perspectives as well — LVL is in high demand in Europe and I’m sure the Russian manufacturers will react to that”, — says Jouni Putkonen, Vice-President of Raute.

In his opinion, given the current situation, the Russian manufacturers are ready to invest money into high-tech equipment produced abroad. Annual increase in the total value of all contracts made between Raute and the Russian clients is a pretty good evidence.

“We saw that in 2019 and 2020, and based on negotiations we’re currently having, 2021 will see growth as well. If you look at the bigger picture, investment waves travel from one continent to another. This kind of investment wave lasted seven years in Europe, now it has come to an end, mainly due to the pandemic and its consequences.

This investment wave has lasted three years in Russia, and I think I’ll still impact us for three or four years to come. On the other hand, you can’t dismiss the fact that Russia is quite unpredictable and if we talk about potential threats for the market development so those would be geopolitical ones. Nonetheless we do hope that decisions made by different countries will not impede the business activities” — says Jouni Putkonen.


Jouni Putkonen
Vice President, Russia and CIS
Tel. +358 40 500 6121

Ruslan Meleshkin
General Manager and Service Head, Raute Service LLC
Tel. +7 981 912 12 68