Reliable Tamtron Scalex 1001 truck scales guarantee fast and accurate weighing at Metsä Group’s next generation bioproduct mill in Äänekoski, Finland. The automatic license plate identification enters the vehicles directly into the reception system.
The timber traffic gate at the bioproduct mill is busy. 240 loads of raw timber per day arrive at the area when the mill is in full nominal production. Chemical and product transports using another route also run through the mill area.
The largest investment in the history of Finnish forest industry was started on 15 August 2017, and when the mill is operating at full volume, it will process 6.5 million cubic metres of pulpwood in a year. Everything in the mill is big – or even record-breaking – on a Finnish scale. The mill will reach a nominal production of 1.3 million tonnes of pulp within one year from its start.
The trucks drive through Tamtron’s Scalex 1001 truck scales when arriving at and leaving the area. Tamtron delivered two truck scales, a 26-metre and a 39-metre version, to Metsä Group’s old pulp mill in Äänekoski during 2015 and 2016, when the older measuring station was moved due to the construction of the new mill. Now that the old mill has been closed down, the scales are used by the chemical and product deliveries.
During 2016 and 2017, three Scalex 1001 truck scales (a 26-metre scale and two 39-metre scales) were installed at the new measuring station for weighing timber. One of the 39-metre scales is intended for roundwood transports, while the 26-metre scale is for woodchip transports. Both types of transport use the second long scale for departure weighing.
All scales are three metres in width.
The first big scales in Finland
The giant scales at the bioproduct mill are suitable for weighing jumbo trucks.
“The whole mill investment was made for decades to come, so we wanted to prepare for things like specialised trucks with the giant scales,” says Maija Perävainio, the Terminal Operations Manager responsible for all of Metsä Forest’s measuring stations.
The Scalex 1001 scales are divided into parts, meaning that articulated vehicles can be weighed either as a single entity, or the tractor and the trailer can be weighed separately without moving the vehicle. They are also equipped with heating cables. Tamtron delivered a heating control centre for their foundation; its logic switches the heating on at the right time depending on the temperature and humidity. This means that the deck or foundation of the scale bridge will not freeze.
“We looked for the desire and skill to carry out development according to our wishes. We made a call for tenders for a product that didn’t exist yet. We had visions, and Tamtron ran with them.”
Developing a driver terminal together
At the new mill, Metsä Group wanted to develop the speed of weighing streams of goods, as well as the driver terminal that is an essential part of the scales.
“In the developer, we looked for the desire and skill to carry out development according to our wishes. We made a call for tenders for a product that didn’t exist yet. We had visions, and Tamtron ran with them,” says Perävainio.
All five of the scales are equipped with Scalex 6500 driver terminals that have been integrated into Metsä Group’s Kuva reception system. The Kuva system in turn is connected to the SAP ERP system of the whole group.
“Driver terminals have been available for a long time, but the new version is easier to use. Instead of a separate keyboard, it has a touchscreen that most drivers already know from smartphones. The user interface is visually clear, which reduces potential input errors during weighing and speeds up the operation.”
Fully automated weighing and vehicle identification
The weighing solution is fully automated. The truck scales have vehicle identification integrated into the Kuva system. When the driver drives the vehicle on the scale bridge, a camera identifies it based on the license plate. The terminal also directs the drivers ahead to an unloading or waiting site.
“Our goal is to reach a steady stream of wood to the mill 24/7, store as little wood in the field as possible, and speed up the truck unloading. We use a new unloading time reservation system that knows the current need for wood at the mill and the amount of timber arriving by train, and divides the rest of the need over vehicles by opening up the correct number of unloading times for them in the system,” Perävainio explains.
The drivers use a mobile application to reserve an unloading time in the system in advance, and send advance information about the load when they leave the loading site to head for the mill. When a vehicle comes to the scale, a camera identifies the license plate and registers it as an arrival in the Kuva system, from where the information is sent to the people responsible for unloading. The system retrieves the advance information that was sent, attaches the weighing information and requests the driver’s approval. The same is done for the departure weighing. The weighing itself only takes a few seconds.
“The weighing must be accurate and reliable. The volume of pulpwood is calculated and the raw material and freight is paid based on the weighing information. Fast weighing prevents traffic jams at the scales,” Perävainio explains.
A service contract secures the operation
Metsä Group has Tamtron’s scales in many of its mills, and it also has a service contract on the scales for the whole group, to which the new scales were also included.
“Truck scales are important tools for us, and they must stay in working order. An agreement on common maintenance practices has been made for all Tamtron scales in the group to ensure that they stay operational,” Perävainio says.
Tamtron services the equipment once per year and, if necessary, comes to the Äänekoski site within 12 hours from a fault being reported. The mill has 24/7 phone support in case of faults. In addition, the supplier ensures compliance with the requirements of the law, such as a scheduled verification every three years. If necessary, training for the use and maintenance of the scales is also available.
According to the Terminal Operations Manager, the experiences of Scalex 1001 scales at the new bioproduct mill have been positive.
“The scales have been very reliable, and the speed of weighing has been excellent. We have been happy with the scales. The drivers have also praised the terminal and the very fast weighing,” she says.
In the future, the aim is to continue to improve the weighing process based on Metsä Group’s needs.