Challenge: Oulun Energia's investment in circular economy accentuates material flow management and increases regulatory reporting requirements.

The Rusko waste recycling plant opening in the autumn 2020 will sort plastic, fiber, glass and metals from construction and demolition waste and trade and industry packaging waste and deliver them for recycling. A third of waste arriving at the plant can be put to material utilization, for example, as secondary materials or for earthworks. Waste not suitable for recycling is used as fuel and processed further into energy at the power plants of Oulun Energia.

Smoothly operating receipt and forwarding of materials, as well as the overall supply chain management are fundamental to efficient operations. This increasingly complex chain and the related reporting to material suppliers and regulators can no longer be performed in Excel.

Customer service has improved along with the introduction of Once.

Project in brief

Solution: Introduction of the Once system for the management of material flows and reporting of the waste recycling plant.

Oulun Energia found an expedient route to the solution having already used Pinja’s Once system and its predecessor, PAS, at their power plants since 1989. Experiences have been very good.

“Regarding power plants, we have been able to develop things that suit us. We therefore trusted that this partnership allows us to make developments also in the area of circular economy and waste recycling”, says development manager Heikki Harju-Autti.

“Work related to the circular economy project is still at a rather early state, but the future looks promising”, Heikki Harju-Autti continues. “Once functionalities have been introduced at a fast pace.

”We have concentrated on the basic functions to ensure that the scale functions, for example, work perfectly for all different materials and we can monitor the flow of materials.” Heikki Harju-Autti, Oulun Energia

“We have concentrated on the basic functions to ensure that the scale functions, for example, work perfectly for all different materials and we can monitor the flow of materials. Since early this year, we have offered our own service production to waste suppliers. I believe that many of the same methods that have been used in the management of waste flows at the waste-to-energy plant will also be used in the circular economy project after slightly refining them. In fact, on the circular economy side, material flow management will play an even more important role compared to the power plant.”

In addition to inventory accounting, Once will be used for the management of all inbound and outbound material flows. The company is already using Once in a versatile way in everyday communication and reporting. 

“Customer service has improved along with the introduction of Once. For example, receipt breaks or restrictions have become notably less frequent at the waste incineration plant”, Heikki Harju-Autti remarks.

Versatile toolbox

New functions will be introduced as the plant operations expand. Once is scalable to both small and large waste management and material recycling companies. In fact, a real Once ecosystem has emerged around the circular economy in Oulu, as many partners and customers of the energy company also use the same system.

Once is used to manage the data and processes related to scale functions, laboratory analyses and storage inventory management, and the data and agreements related to material suppliers. Shared data benefits the entire chain.

Towards a cleaner future

Oulun Energia has ambitious goals. The later opening Laanila biopower plant will help the company reach its target of being a carbon neutral energy producer during the 2030s. Once is involved in this journey.

“In circular economy, material flow management will have an increasingly important role compared to the power plant”, says development manager Heikki Harju-Autti.

Oulun Energia aims to make the circular economy a pillar that comprehensively supports their activities. According to development manager Heikki Harju-Autti, the goal is to expand operations in the treatment of trade, industrial, building and demolition waste.

“I believe that we will expand circular economy solutions to the municipal waste sector as well. In this area, we are cooperating with Gasum in a development project for producing biogas from organic waste”, explains Heikki Harju-Autti.

Photo: Oulun Energia

Project in brief

1

In circular economy, the large variety of different material qualities puts pressure on measurement and reporting of material flows.

2

Once helps to manage the big picture, the supply chain and material flow data from multiple sites.

3

In Oulu, other circular economy operators also use the system for managing and sharing material flow data – a “Once ecosystem” has emerged.

4

Once helps Oulun Energia to achieve sustainability goals.

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Gasum

“The real-time monitoring of the Once® by Pinja system now enables us to see whether the number of incoming waste loads is adequate in relation to the production requirement.”

Oulun Energia

“The Once solution has significantly improved and automated the entire supply chain and the reporting process of Oulun Energia. In addition to improved customer service and practical plant operations, the system helps to conform with legal requirements.”

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“Earlier, it took us three days in a month to process the fuel data and set up invoicing methods to only take care of the invoicing requests. Now, energy-based invoicing requests are created in 4 to 6 hours and invoices are sent in electronic form.”

Kuopion Energia

“To export data to a system and import various summary reports without errors and delays is invaluable.”