Mika Timonen, project manager at Kymijärvi III.

Staying on schedules requires professional leadership

Lahti Energia builds a new Kymijärvi III bio plant that replaces the old Kymijärvi I coal power plant. Kymijärvi III uses biomass as energy and the total investment of the power plant is 165 million euros. Fimpec Oy is part of the implementation of the project and is responsible for the management of the site.

Mika Timonen, project manager at Kymijärvi III, what is Lahti Energia's power plant project?

We are building a new power plant in place of an old coal power plant. The old coal plant Kymijärvi I will be shut down next year and the Kymijärvi III bio plant will secure heat from biomass to the Lahti region and produce electricity as a by-product when the old power plant is shut down. The most significant reason for the investment was that Lahti Energia's carbon dioxide emissions will drop 600,000 tons per year. In the future when the new Kymijärvi III is completed, 85% of all energy and electricity produced in Lahti will come from renewable sources.

What kind of project is this from your point of view?

The project is interesting, and this is the largest investment in the Lahti region ever. When the old coal power plant Kymijärvi I is shut down next spring, the new Kymijärvi III power plant must be ready and operational. If the new power plant would not be completed in time, the heat to the Lahti region should be covered by oil or gas, which is considerably expensive. The schedule and budget are therefore closely tied together. If the schedule is surpassed, the budget is surpassed as well.

The most important thing to staying on the project schedule and budget is a high-quality project control. The project is divided into parts because the project management is the management of data transfer at the interface. The most important thing is to ensure that information goes to the right place at the right time and things are done right. The project has dozens of different factors and everything affects everything.

The total strength of the site is 550 or 600 people at best. As well, there are a remarkable number of contractors. How does the entirety remain in control?

The importance of supervision in the entirety is considerable. We have hired Fimpec as a representative for us to supervise contractors and Fimpec's Timo-Pekka Aaltonen leads the entire construction organization. There are about 20 people in the project only to supervise the work and when contractors also have their own management, it can be said that 70 of the total strength of 600 people is engineers and other officials and the rest are installers. That kind of co-operation this is.

Fimpec's role in the management and supervision of site is significant. What factors influenced the selection?

Our corporate governance required that a company which has sufficient resources to handle this size class project is hired to supervise the power plant. Fimpec had references for similar projects and adequate human capacity. Of course, the choice was also influenced by the company's good reputation on the market. I can say that cooperation with Fimpec has worked well. Personnel are skilled and have done this kind of projects all around the world. That's when the thing works.

What are the key facts for the client in project management during the implementation phase?

Preferably, we want a company to handle our affairs without direct links to contractors. Therefore, we make sure that the company specifically supervises our interests in the project, and the work will be done with high-quality and on schedule. Those are the key elements that make the project work. As mentioned above, the costs are usually due to the surpassing of the schedule and therefore staying on it in management of implementation phase is very important.

What are the benefits of using external consultants in such projects?

It is an atypical situation for energy companies that the new power plant will be built at all. Kymijärvi III now replaces an already 45-year-old coal power plant and larger investments take place once every 10 or 15 years. If we think that 20 people are needed to control this power plant project, then it is obvious not to keep this level of professionals on payrolls. We balance the workload by using consultants as supervisors. Fimpec's personnel are used to go from project to project around the world and able to adapt to this kind of work environment. Otherwise, this job would not fit.