Ai plays matchmaker at Sävar Sawmill

The industrial boom in northern Sweden continues at pace, with substantial investments taking place at Norra Skog's Norra Timber sawmill in Sävar. Rather than slowing down through the current tough recession, the sawmill owned by Norra Skog's forestry owner’s association has opted to invest heavily to the amount of half a billion SEK. Cutting-edge technology upgrades are strengthening the sawmill’s reputation as one of the most modern facilities of its kind anywhere in the world.

Published 6 February 2023

“Sävar Sawmill is updating its already modern machinery to make it possible to read a log's individual fingerprint. So now, instead of only being able to sort logs by characteristics such as dimensions and length, the X-ray option allows us to view the internal characteristics of a log, such as any knots, shakes and fiberdeformation. With the help of this information we can process logs even more efficiently into products our buyers really want. In other words, we make sure it's the perfect match every single time”, says Fredrik Samuelsson, Sawmill Manager at Norra Timber Sävar Sawmill.

‘Tinder’ for northern logs

Just like today's popular dating apps, where you match people looking for love based on photos and preferences, Norra Timber's sawmill in Sävar uses X-ray photography of logs and scans of the planks to accurately match products to the right customer.

“With the help of advanced technology utilized throughout the sawmill process, we are able to sort logs in a completely new way and determine what the final product will be before we insert the bandsaw blade into the log. In the past we visually detected characteristics along the bandsaw saw line. Thanks to AI technology, we can now ‘swipe’ right or left at the beginning of the process. It’s another step towards treating and maximizing each log individually, instead of processing logs collectively”, says Fredrik Samuelsson.

Investing half a billion SEK in modern sawmills

The board of Norra Skog, which is owned by its 27,000 forestry business members, has committed to investing just over half a billion SEK in modern technology at its three sawmills in Kåge, Hissmofors and Sävar. The investment in Sävar totals SEK 200 million, and includes a brand new log sorting line (including the land it is being built on), as well as upgrades to the saw intake to improve control over the saw line. This will enable individual logs to be identified, as well as make it possible to follow and document logs throughout the entire sawing process - ensuring maximum utilization of the raw material. 

“With continuous improvements to our processes, we hope to get closer to 100% value exchange in the future. It is an important technological step that will make even better use of the forest's sustainable products”, says Fredrik Samuelsson.

A focus on environmental impact

The forestry industry contributes to society and its transition towards a more circular and fossil-free future by using renewable raw materials from forests and creating fossil-free products that bind carbon as the forests grow. Norra Timber works tirelessly to ensure that nothing is wasted in the production of sawn and planed timber products. For example, chippings are used to produce bedding products for horses and agriculture, wood chips are used in pulp mills, and the residual products from sawing are utilized to heat households in the Sävar community via Umeå Energi's district heating network. The sawmill’s investment plans also feature stormwater management to help reduce impact to the environment.

“Building with wood is significantly better and more environmentally friendly than building with concrete and steel. Active forestry and the forestry industry therefore play an important role in solving the climate issue. We are keen to use as much as possible of the forests’ valuable raw materials, and thanks to these investments we can optimize the use of every log and produce even less waste”, concludes Fredrik Samuelsson.


Norra Timber’s Investments

Sävar Sawmill is updating its facility with a new measuring station and improvements to the saw intake at a cost of SEK 200 million.
Kåge Sawmill is investing SEK 300 million in a new splitting saw, an advanced X-ray machine and the ongoing construction of new, more modern equipment for timber sorting which will increase capacity by 70 percent and will give us the possibility to use electrifed material handler.
Hissmofors Sawmill has invested SEK 20 million in an X-ray machine equipped with the very latest technology. Pine and spruce are now processed simultaneously, and measuring capacity is increasing.