The view from production
Mikael Nordin is one of two Sales Operations Managers, along with Stefan Johansson. Formerly Södra’s Market Controller, he took on the job in April – probably the most stressful time possible to make the move!
“It has been a huge challenge with a lot of uncertainty, but everything turned out really well,” reflects Nordin. “Considering the year we have just lived through, our mills have really performed tremendously this year, both in terms of volume but also quality, with the exception of a setback when Värö was delayed during its maintenance stop.
“Overall, we will have made almost exactly what we projected for 2020. By the end of November, we had produced 1.7 million tonnes of pulp (paper and textile) and we will be at some 1.85 M tonnes by the end of the year.”
In addition to the market fluctuations caused by the pandemic, the bark beetle proved an added unwelcome complication this year. “Södra is always keen to ensure that optimum use is made of the forest and its members’ resources. Trees that have been damaged by the beetle are not suitable for timber but are fine for pulp – but this required extraordinary work in our raw material handling and continuous, careful planning, to ensure the trees were not wasted while always maintaining quality specifications.
“It’s been a year of constant manoeuvering to respond to the changing positions of different customers”, Nordin explains. “However, while Covid-19 has accelerated the underlying trend downwards for printings and writings, our supply to this market has positively surprised us after the substantial downturn in demand in the spring due to Covid-19.
“If I’ve learned anything this year, it’s how quickly the market can turn. But we will be starting 2021 with low stocks and solid demand, which means the careful balancing will continue into the first half of next year. It will be very important to ensure we maintain the level of service that our customers expect. We will also have maintenance stops in the spring at Värö and Mönsterås, which will mean a loss of some 100,000 tonnes. These are essential, however, as we shortened the work done during the stops this year because of the pandemic.”
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