The schedule of building the xylitol factory in Lahti is tight, but Fazer does not compromise safety. In October, Janne Toivanen will pass the project ownership on to Filip Forsblom of Qtio, who will ensure that this prime example of circular economy will be in operation in 2020.

The construction of the xylitol factory is the most significant investment in a new line of business in Fazer’s history. The new factory is being built in Fazer’s factory site in Lahti, which already consists of a bakery, thin crisp factory and a mill. The new property’s total area will be 4,300 square metres, and the parking lot on the factory site will also be expanded. Fazer has also signed an agreement with the Lahti Energia utility company on the construction of a biopower plant next to the xylitol factory.

Building the factory requires cutting-edge project management

Project Manager Janne Toivanen, who launched the construction of the factory, has experience in construction projects around the world. At Fazer, his responsibilities have included office space renovations and the construction of the award-winning Fazer Experience visitor centre in Vantaa. Both projects also involved Qtio, a company providing project management and construction services, which has a long experience in cooperating with Fazer. Qtio’s Filip Forsblom will assume the project ownership of the construction of the xylitol factory as Toivanen changes employers.

“Qtio welcomes this challenge. Janne leaves enormous shoes to fill, but fortunately our team is fully up for the task”, Forsblom says. “In addition to Fazer's team, we will be assisted by extremely skilled and committed teams from NCC and RE Group”.

The xylitol factory differs from a typical Finnish project when it comes to the project lead time in particular. The factory will be in operation in approximately 18 months after the permission to start building was received. “Usually it takes two to three years from the investment decision to the commissioning of a factory”, Toivanen says.

Filip Forsblom adds that carrying out construction and planning concurrently increases risks. “On the other hand, this operating method provides optimised, cost-effective structural solutions and minimises the overhead costs during construction”, he says. “It also enables us to respond to potential challenges quickly”.

Safety is a priority at the Lahti site

During the busiest periods, more than 100 people will be working at the construction site. In Finland, contractors are reliable and the level of both expertise and safety is high. Compared to many other countries, cost-effectiveness still needs work since the winter season creates challenges due to heating and other special requirements. “In November, our work will proceed indoors, as planned, just before the winter”, Forsblom says.

 

Safety is a priority at the work site. Forsblom is also the occupational safety coordinator in the project and praises both NCC and all subcontractors for their professional attitude towards occupational safety. “Everyone working on the site have had the right attitude from the outset”, he says.

The safety of people moving about on site and in its surroundings has been ensured. The work site is separated from the rest of the Lahti factory site with safety fences. Access to the work site is via a separate intersection. The site also has its own access control and monitoring system. An inspection carried out by the Regional State Administrative Agency (AVI) showed that everything is up to par. “We passed the inspection with flying colours with a score of 98/100, which means that the level of safety and all the basics at the work site are excellent”, Toivanen says.

An environmentally friendly and innovative factory

Fazer wants to be bold and innovate. That ensures the transformation into a modern sustainable food company with a shared direction. Innovativeness is what makes the xylitol factory unique: it is the only production facility in the world where xylitol is manufactured from oat hulls on an industrial scale.

Responsibility is incorporated in everything. Among other things, all possible process cycles have been closed in order to minimise waste. Oat hulls are conveyed directly from the mill to the production facility for further processing. The processed oat hulls are further used as energy in the biopower plant that Fazer is having built next to the xylitol factory.

“This truly is food with a purpose. We are able to reduce the amount of both carbon dioxide emissions and food waste, and the product itself – xylitol – has clear health benefits”, Janne Toivanen says. “I am proud of having had the opportunity to be part of putting something so unique into motion”.

Filip Forsblom is impressed by the project. “It is great that such a unique idea has been developed further with an open mind”, he says. “We at Qtio are flattered that we are able to contribute to the development of Fazer’s xylitol factory”.