Quality: beyond the familiar
The list of quality parameters for pulp might seem obvious: brightness, dirt level, fibre-length distribution and strength. If you’re looking at dissolving pulp then viscosity and purity come into the equation, too.
It’s a familiar list, and all these aspects of pulp remain under constant scrutiny at Södra as we strive to make the best pulp possible. What my new role signals is Södra’s strategic focus on quality and customer values, which requires a coordinated, management-led approach.
Our mills are the beating heart of Södra’s drive to produce a consistent, high-quality product. Our Innovation business area also plays a decisive role in defining and setting our long-term goals, as do the sales team and technical product managers. My role is to channel these efforts, guided by a group-wide strategic roadmap, and driven by the desire to set ever-higher targets.
Such an approach also helps us to be at least one step ahead. Not only do we listen to what our customers need today but anticipate what they will need moving forward. So our pulp’s contribution to paper-machine runnability and the characteristics of the finished products must be seen in the context of resource efficiency and logistics, to give two examples, to ensure our solutions are cost effective for the customer.
And today, equally important is the impact of our pulp throughout its journey, from seedling planted in the forest to delivered bale. Taking in all aspects of forestry, processing, and logistics, we constantly ask ourselves, how sustainable can we make our pulp?
Sustainability has been high on our agenda since most of us can remember: it gained equal status to financial targets in our business planning several years ago. But the fact that sustainability is now considered to be an important quality characteristic illustrates an evolving mindset, both on our side and that of our customers, confirming that sustainability is an essential product characteristic.
We shall continue working with production teams in our customers’ mills, taking advantage of digitisation which can bring us closer to your process, while also heeding the message from our customer survey that technical visits are particularly welcome. Increasing our knowledge and strengthening our collaboration is more important than ever. Our experience is that when we undertake technical projects with customers, then both parties come out the other side knowing more.
But today we’re going further, and that quality package is part of a multi-faceted strategic vision which encompasses the challenges and opportunities for pulp-based products in the coming years. Quality is not what it used to be. It’s taken on a new dimension.
Annica Larsson Ahlstedt, Head of Product Quality
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