Delivering production efficiency and process reliability in harsh environments with VSDs

Everything counts at a sawmill such as Westas Group which produces around 200,000 square meters of lumber annually

Imagine the following – a huge sawmill and production plant surrounded by endless fields and forest in rural Finland. You can smell the fresh wood as the multiple saws cut simultaneously through timber and various sizes of cants and logs move automatically onto conveyors. The place you’ve just landed in is a sawmill owned by the Finnish Westas Group, which produces around 200,000 square meters of lumber annually.

At Westas Group sawmill, conveyors transport the timber through a sorting process, which sorts the timber based on different quality and dimension classes. Once selected, a wheel loader takes the logs to the sawing line where they are conveyed to the debarking unit. After this phase, the logs are scaled and sorted and finally fed into the cutting line in a correct position. This process is all about conveyor technology and of course, it requires variable speed drives in order for the process flow effectively and reliably. In order to maintain reliable processes under these harsh and demanding conditions, a robust design of the drives is imperative, together with the quick support if needed.

It’s not an exaggeration to say that at sawmills like Westas Group every detail matters. Each little improvement and enhancement in the production process can bring huge benefits in terms of process reliability and effectiveness. With the help of variable speed drives the desired improvements can be achieved if the drives can overcome challenges the demanding production conditions and working environment set. The management of Westas Group wanted to accomplish the enhancements related to efficiency and reliability brought with an automation upgrade. They wanted to find the best solution for them and decided to invest in ACS580 general purpose drives instead of renewing the whole production line. Their upgrade included log feeding, log metering and saw-line angle metering machines, which were equipped with three units of ACS580.

Pekka Kopra, the Managing Director of Westas Group, said “The speed and feeding of the conveyors are absolutely crucial in order for the relatively long and exacting process to function smoothly and reliably. A stop in any part of the process can affect things all the way to the beginning. Also, to maintain the replacement parts here at the mill on a reasonable level, our aim is to select high-standard and reliable suppliers, also of the kind who have the capacity to deliver when needed. “

The robust and reliable design of the drives ensures them to work impeccably even in the hardest environments. Downtime of the processes will be minimized and also, the safety of the machines and personnel will be ensured with the integrated safety functionalities of the ACS580.

For more information about the Westas Group’s automation upgrade, visit

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About the author

Eero Pyhäranta

Eero is the global product manager for ACS550 and ACS580 general purpose drives. Eero studied engineering at the Aalto university in Finland gaining a Masters degree specializing in electrical engineering. In addition to the degree in electrical engineering, Eero holds a Masters degree in Economics and Business Administration.
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