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Tuesday, 02 August 2022 10:25

AGV: Automated Guided Vehicles

Automatic warehouses: current state of the art

Automation 4.0 has arrived in warehouses, and it was definitely needed. Perhaps still considered as static places where goods simply remain parked, today warehouses have become and are increasingly becoming dynamic and smart environments, where there is a place for robotics (especially for AGVs - Automatic Guided Vehicles), computer science and sensors. It did not happen out of whim, because in the last few years a significant increase in complexity has affected the activities of warehouse and logistics.

Regardless of the type of goods sold, warehouses today contain many more products and much more data than in the past. In order to satisfy more and more demanding customers, who are informed and expect a greater customization, the offers have expanded and deepened.

Furthermore, with the introduction of traceability and monitoring systems, sensors and Internet of Things connectivity in many factories and supply chains, a veritable explosion of data has occurred. Data are indeed a resource but also a complicated material to manage. Moreover, in order to pursue the levels of service provided by Amazon and other e-commerce giants, even the most traditional companies find themselves under pressure, having to increasingly reduce delivery time.

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Read more: Warehouse logistics: IoT sensors and new handling systems

How can we deal with such an important and probably irreversible change? Automation is a powerful tool for reducing complexity – and costs! – and is also a forward-looking investment that pays for itself quickly. There are two types of automation: "material", related to the storage and handling of goods; and "immaterial", made with management and control software solutions. It sounds complicated, but the tools to support the technological transformation of the warehouse are certainly not lacking.

Automated racking and AGVs, Automated Guided Vehicles, overturn the old model of a static warehouse and bring new efficiency in the storage, handling, picking, loading and unloading of goods (palletized, in boxes or in bulk). All these procedures are suitable for being automated, with excellent results.

A dynamic and automatic storage and handling system, for example, allows the entire height of the warehouse to be exploited (transforming it into a "vertical warehouse"): up to 90% more space can be saved, at the same square footage, compared to a traditional layout. And, in addition to space optimization, greater speed is obtained (no time is wasted searching for an article or lot), precision (zero human error) and safety (no difficult handling, loading and unloading operations are attempted).

We can define the automated warehouse as an automated plant for the storage of goods, consisting of four main elements:

  • the shelving, which allows the vertical volumes to be exploited;
  • the stacker crane, a frame that moves vertically and sometimes horizontally, sliding on a rail, with rope, belt or chain traction;
  • the handling, i.e. the set of devices that extract and move load units (automatic conveyors, shuttles, rollers or chains and other elements);   
  • the electronic component, i.e. the electrical cabinet, a computer and a management and control software.

Both the handling of materials and products and the loading and unloading operations are suitable to be automated, leading to great savings in time and great gains in efficiency and precision.

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The robot AGV has knocked on the door of the warehouse, and not as a passing guest, but as a new and welcome tenant. Automated Guided Vehicles - self-driving vehicles that perform handling tasks - represent a groundbreaking innovation for the world of intralogistics.

The innovation forms part of the wider one of Industry 4.0, which consists of connectivity and the Internet of Things, temperature, presence and movement sensors, RFID readers, and software that collects and analyses data to improve processes and perform predictive maintenance. These technologies are transforming production, but also other aspects of the supply chain.

There are various types of AGVs suitable for handling different quantities and types of goods, all of which share some abilities that translate into advantages.

IS 6 NEW less human intervention in the warehouse

Autonomy guaranteed by software and sensors

The ability to move independently (thanks to a range of technologies: electrical, optical, magnetic, GPS, etc.) makes the presence of a driver superfluous. Vehicles equipped with software can be programmed to perform precise operations, while cameras and sensors allow machines to perceive the surrounding environment.

The strength of machines

In intralogistics, as in many other fields (such as construction), the strength of machines far exceeds that of humans. The weight-bearing capacity of robot AGVs can vary greatly, but is in all cases superior to that of a team of people and often also to that of the classic forklift truck. The most powerful models can handle loads weighing several tons.

Constant energy

Lithium batteries, which can be charged quickly, increase the productivity of AGVs and reduce downtime. It can be said, then, that the level of performance of a machine does not improve or suffer according to physical condition, tiredness, hunger or commitment, but remains constant.

Safety for workers and goods

Intrinsically safe design, bumpers, brakes, and sensors that detect the presence of obstacles all help to reduce the risk of accidents (collisions with other vehicles or people, falling of goods, etc.).

Precision without distraction

Mechanical arms designed according to the goods to be handled (bales of raw material, pallets, paper rolls, etc.) and sensors allow for precise and repeatable movements, not subject to variability or human error.

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The speed of a tireless robot

It is certainly easier for a vehicle to travel long distances, from one warehouse to another or between very large warehouse departments, or to shuttle between the picking area and the logistics delivery area. The performance of a robot AGV does not depend on subjective factors, on tiredness, or on the bulk of the shifted goods.

Benefits of a flexible fleet

If a company wishes to expand its production department or warehouse, it can increase the fleet of Automated Guided Vehicles in a gradual and flexible manner without risk of interference or the need to train new personnel.

Taken individually and of course as a whole, these features demonstrate why robot AGVs are a powerful tool in terms of productivity, efficiency and savings. A single self-driving vehicle can do the work of one or more people in less time. Programming makes it possible to precisely define routes and actions for the robot, but the advantages of AGVs are maximised in the case of use for repetitive processes in the warehouse and/or on a large scale.

The future of human-robot collaboration

Will we be saying goodbye to workers in the warehouse, then? Not exactly. Robots can improve and transform intralogistics processes, as well as cost and productivity models. But they don't have to be seen as earth-shattering. Their technology is scalable: you can start with one or two, and then increase the fleet when you best see fit.

Moreover, since AGVs are essentially "workers", it is them that have to adapt to existing workflows, and not the other way around. Rather than disappear, warehouse staff will be able to devote themselves to activities of greater added value: supervision, management, planning, maintenance and shipment control (thereby increasing the precision of operations and the correctness of deliveries).

Relieved of heavy work, the staff can dedicate more time and energy to tasks of responsibility. It is therefore true that there will be "less human intervention", but not from a purely numerical point of view: the more the warehouse is automated and managed by software, the more its processes interact without the need for a person to solve problems, perform maintenance, move objects or assign tasks to colleagues. Human intervention is reduced because the problems are reduced.

Industry 4.0 therefore allows robots and people to coexist by sharing tasks and responsibilities. But there is no doubt, in any case, that a 4.0 warehouse requires fewer new staff, since if the load increases it is possible to assign more hours of work to an AGV or add to the fleet.

There is a faster return on investment in machines due to cutting of personnel costs, not to mention better productivity and efficiency. In short, AGVs must not be seen as something of which to be afraid: they can be used in warehouses without causing confusion or threatening the existing dynamics, and indeed with the promise of numerous benefits.

In this article we focused on one aspect - reduced human intervention - but we will also talk about the other advantages in our eBook "Forklifts VS AGV systems: what is best for the warehouse?". Download it now for free!

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PFNonwovens has commissioned a new nonwovens specialty line at its center of excellence in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. This line includes multiple A.Celli nonwovens equipment components.

The production line, developed with Reicofil R5 technology, is equipped with our solutions like:

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All this enhanced by our R-WAY® solution for automatic roll handling and packaging equipped with our Label Verification System, an upgrade for packaging systems with the objective to verify, by reading the labels applied to the reels and bundles, the consistency between the processes carried out by the packaging line and the actual end result of the process in terms of correct composition of each bundle.

Having PFNonwovens as a partner makes us more and more proud of our technology dedicated to the nonwovens sector.

“We are the first to invest in the latest R5 machinery in the US. This investment, in combination with our unique proprietary technology, allows us to produce consumer-preferred ultra-high loft, soft and textured nonwoven fabrics. This solidifies PFN’s position as a global leader in the production of innovative spunmelt nonwoven fabrics.” said Shane Vincent, PFN Chief Commercial Officer.

PFNONWOVENS – COMPANY PROFILE

PFNonwovens is a leading global producer of customized nonwoven fabrics for innovative products across multiple key markets (Baby Care, Medical, Adult Incontinence and Fem Care). The company is headquartered in Prague, Czech Republic, and operates five production plants worldwide: two in the Czech Republic, and one each in the United States, Egypt, and South Africa.

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Henan Xinya orders two new A.Celli E-WIND® P100 paper rewinders for the Xianxing plant.

Given the excellent results obtained thanks to the solutions provided by A.Celli since 2005, including the E-WIND® P100 paper rewinder ordered in 2018, Henan Xinya New Tech Materials Co.,Ltd. will again turn to A.Celli rewinding solutions.

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The new supply requested by the Chinese group for their mill located in Xianxing City, Henan Province, includes two E-WIND® P100 paper rewinders, designed to process white coated paper with a web width of 5720 mm at a design speed of 2500 m/min. This will be accompanied by the related installation and commissioning services.

We are extremely proud of Henan Xinya's confidence in A.Celli technology and we look forward to strengthening our partnership for years to come.

HENAN XINYA – COMPANY PROFILE

Henan Xinya was founded in 1979 and is one of the leading paper companies in Henan Province, with an annual paper production capacity of 800,000 tons and total business assets of 3.66 billion yuan. Henan Xinya was ranked 22nd among the companies of the pulp and paper industry in China.

Published in Asian News

The bulk is an important characteristic for many types of paper, capable of determining the softness of the papers for hygienic-sanitary use or the dimensional stability of the paper sold in sheets. In these cases, where it is essential to implement a correct and effective pressing process, our SMARNIP® mini shoe press is the ideal solution to optimize the dryness and mechanical properties of the paper.

The shoe press is a Beloit invention dating back to the 1980s aimed at the production of packaging paper. It is an extended nip press (ENP) where a concave stationary shoe, opposed to a cylinder, is used to substantially expand the nip, thus allowing the application of a high linear load while keeping the specific pressure low.

Since the first installations, it was possible to highlight advantages in terms of sheet drying compared to traditional cylinder presses, guaranteeing excellent results in terms of increased production and energy savings. The interest aroused by this innovation has led to the application of the concept also in the production of graphic papers, but we had to wait until 2003 to have a shoe press specifically designed for applications where paper bulk was a priority.

It was in that year that PMT, a company part of the A.Celli Group since 2020, patented the SMARNIP® mini shoe press. Let's see the characteristics of this solution in detail.

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Why PMT developed the SMARNIP® mini shoe press

The experience deriving from applications in production lines of graphic papers and papers with specific bulk needs has led to the conclusion that, for these products, the "standard" load exerted by a conventional shoe press (about 1,000 kN/m) is excessive.

Furthermore, even the size of this shoe press itself is disproportionate to the real needs, for which a smaller and more manageable solution is sufficient also from the point of view of the overall dimensions.

The installation of a conventional shoe press also requires significant interventions on the paper machine and, often, on its surroundings, such as the strengthening of the overhead crane and the reinforcement of civil structures, with an increase in installation costs and a reduction of the profitability of the investment.

To overcome these limitations and find an appropriate balance between the desired degree of dryness and the qualitative properties of the paper, we have developed and patented the SMARNIP® mini shoe press.

The characteristics of the SMARNIP®

The SMARNIP® is a relatively compact and light solution, with diameter from 700 mm to 1000 mm, shoe width from 70 mm to 125 mm and overall dimensions similar to a variable-crown roll.

Our mini shoe press is capable of exerting a linear load from 100 to 700 kN/m and has the same characteristics as a conventional shoe press, i.e. a pivoting concave shoe loaded by two rows of transverse pistons and a commercial polyurethane sleeve.

The aforementioned loading system gives the SMARNIP® an operational flexibility such as to guarantee an optimal ratio between dryness and bulk. Furthermore, the distribution of the hydraulic pressure applied to the pistons can be easily set while the machine is running to facilitate optimization even in the event of frequent production changes.

SMARNIP® advantages

The numerous references and the positive experiences accumulated have shown that our SMARNIP® mini shoe press is able to increase dryness up to 2% more than a roll press with the same bulk (this result can obviously vary based on the composition of the mixture of the specific case).

Considering the advantages obtained also in relation to the small dimensions of our solution, it is often interesting to consider the installation of two SMARNIP® in the same press section. This possibility opens the way to a completely new approach in evaluating the possible investments to be made in the press section itself.

The installation of the SMARNIP® is particularly recommended for paper machines of limited width and, in general, for the production of all types of paper in which a high bulk is sought

Among the many advantages we can mention:

  • Increase in production, thanks to an increase in the degree of dryness and a consequent reduction in the evaporation load on the dryer
  • Greater efficiency of the paper machine, as it is possible to obtain a drier, more resistant sheet
  • Greater bulk
  • Better control of paper smoothness, both in absolute terms and relative terms (between the two sides of the paper)
  • Easy installation, thanks to the limited dimensions
  • Less interventions on the building due to the reduced weight of our mini shoe press
  • Interchangeability with conventional cylinder, unlike a traditional shoe press which has a greater distance between bearings than roll presses

Ultimately, the SMARNIP® embodies all the advantages of the shoe press while preserving the simplicity and compactness of traditional presses.

Published in European News

Sonoco continues its investment plan to strengthen uncoated recycled paperboard mill system in U.S. and Canada.

Sonoco, one of the largest diversified global packaging companies, recently announced a significant investment to strengthen its Uncoated Recycled Paperboard (URB) mill system in the U.S., transforming its Hartsville, S.C., corrugated medium machine into a state-of-the-art URB machine.

As part of their investment, Sonoco chose A.Celli Paper for the supply of two new E-WIND® P100 paper rewinders and an R-WAY® automated material handling and packaging system

E-WIND® P100/P100H paper rewinders can be supplied at widths up to 8.4 m (330”), design speeds up to 2600 mpm (8500 fpm) and for basis weights up to 700 gsm (150 lbs/sq ft). 

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The comprehensive A.Celli R-WAY® integrated solution will provide extreme flexibility and productivity both in the handling and packaging of multiple products and in the style of packaging. 

A.Celli’s fully automated AGV (automatic guided vehicle) system will allow for significantly reduced labor, increased workplace safety and reduced damage to both products and mill site structures. In particular, a fleet of four vehicles will automatically manage the transport of the parent rolls from the paper machine to the rewinders, as well as the handling of finished reels to the warehouse.

"We are eager to see the results of this partnership. We are confident in the superior quality of the technological solutions offered by A.Celli in the field of winding, reel handling and packaging,” said Tim Davis, vice president and general manager of Sonoco

SONOCO PRODUCTS COMPANY – COMPANY PROFILE

Founded in 1899, Sonoco is a global provider of consumer, industrial, healthcare and protective packaging. With annual net sales of approximately $5.2 billion, the Company has 19,000 employees working in approximately 300 plants in 34 countries, serving some of the world’s best-known brands in some 85 nations. The Company was listed as one of Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies for 2021 as well as being included in Barron’s 100 Most Sustainable Companies for the third year in a row.

Published in North American News

The Chinese company will rely on A.Celli and PMT technologies for their new paper machine dedicated to the production of low basis weight fluting.

A.Celli is proud to announce that it will provide key equipments to Shanying Paper (Jilin) Co., Ltd.

The scope of supply will include numerous PMT ÆGO™ branded solutions, such as the STREAM S headbox equipped with the SMARPRO dilution control system, the FORM T top former, the shoe press with Tri-nip configuration and the SIZER FO size press. In addition, A.Celli Paper will provide Shanying with two E-WIND® P100 rewinders and a core handling system.

A.Celli Paper and PMT will handle the design and production processes respectively and the expected delivery time of the supply is 12 months.

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Once started-up, the new paper machine will be able to produce fluting with basis weight ranging from 70 to 170 gsm and web width of 7300 mm, all at a design speed of 1100 m/min.

Mr. Wang Xin, Project Manager of Shanying Paper (Jilin) Co., Ltd., said: “The core of this project is a line designed for the production of packaging paper with low basis weight. In particular, the shoe press with the tri-nip configuration will guarantee a higher production flexibility and product quality while reducing energy consumption”.

Mr. Zhan Zong, General Manager of Shanying Group's business department, said: "We are very happy to sign this cooperation agreement and we believe that the combination of PMT and A.Celli technologies can provide Shanying with excellent results".

SHANYING PAPER (JILIN) Co. Ltd. – COMPANY PROFILE

Shanying Paper (Jilin) Co., Ltd. was founded in 2020 and is a subsidiary of Shanying International Co., Ltd. The company counts numerous production lines that use both domestic and imported waste paper as raw material to make packaging paper, including testliner and fluting, and newsprint.

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The Indonesian paper mill and manufacturing company chooses A.Celli for the end line of their new packaging paper production line to be installed in the Mojokerto paper mill.

PT Mega Surya Eratama and A.Celli signed a contract for the supply of full-optional end line solutions for the packaging paper production line located in Mojokerto, Indonesia.

The PM2 line in object will produce an average of 1,360 tonnes per day of testliner and medium corrugated with a width of 6,700 mm and basis weight ranging from 90 to 180 gsm, thus making it the most advanced and productive line in the country for this type of products.

A.Celli x PT Mega Surya Eratama

A.Celli supply will include a PMT-designed pope reel, capable of processing rolls with a diameter equal to 4400 mm at a design speed of 1350 m/min, and our acclaimed E-WIND® P100 in the full-optional configuration.

Specifically, the paper rewinder, which will process reels at a design speed of 2600 m/min, will be equipped with an in-line unwinder and four in-line reel parking stations, an automatic spool parking, a web-in Slittomatic system for the automatic positioning of the slitting units and, finally, tail and core gluing systems.

The considerable diameter and width of the Jumbo rolls to be processed make this production line, whose start-up is scheduled for 2023, a unique project of which A.Celli is proud to be part.

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Thursday, 27 January 2022 12:18

A.Celli Paper appoints new Plant Director

A.Celli welcomes Daniel Galli, new Plant Director of the A.Celli Paper plant in Tassignano (LU).

The commercial, technological and organizational developments that have characterized the last few years of A.Celli Paper see the addition of a new, fundamental piece for future growth.

Daniel Galli, graduated in chemical engineering from the University of Pisa, has a solid background in the Lean Six Sigma methodology and many years of experience as Operations and Plant Director for numerous companies operating in various industrial sectors.

Daniel Galli, new Plant Director of the A.Celli Paper plant in Tassignano (LU).Daniel Galli, new Plant Director of the A.Celli Paper plant in Tassignano (LU).

Among his professional experiences, we point out the profitable and long-lasting period in force of a well-known multinational in the Oil & Gas sector, which has seen him cover various roles, including that of CEO. Last but not least, the role of Plant Director held for a famous luxury brand, for which he followed the start-up of the first production plant in the province of Florence.

Regarding his new role, Daniel Galli states: “I am honored to cover the role of Plant Director for A.Celli Paper and equally happy to be part of a solid, valid industrial company involved in a highly motivating market. I cannot wait to make the most of the skills and strengths acquired during my career to support my new colleagues and contribute to the development and growth of A.Celli. "

We therefore want to take this opportunity to offer Daniel our best wishes, confident that his professionalism and experience will allow A.Celli Paper to increase its success in the years to come.

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Tissue papers are usually intended for the hygienic-sanitary market and, precisely for this reason, their most requested characteristics are softness and bulkiness. However, there are other important properties that depend, above all, on the type of fibers used and their processing.

In the production of Tissue we use short and long fibers: the former confer qualities such as softness and silkiness, while the latter reinforce and give strength to the structure of the web. The technological level of both the machinery and the process used for the production of Tissue papers also have a great impact on the final quality of the product. In short, with the right raw materials and chemical additives, combined with dedicated cutting-edge machinery, it is possible to produce a perfect Tissue paper for top-of-the-range hygienic products.

So let's see in detail what are the five main and essential properties that quality Tissue must possess.

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Bulkiness

The bulkiness is defined as the volume occupied by a given weight of paper. This is an important property, as it is closely correlated with absorbency and softness, and is mainly determined by two factors: the production technologies and the quality of the fibers used.

To obtain a high bulkiness in the production phase it is possible to use advanced technologies such as, for example, the Through-Air Drying process (or TAD), in which the wet pressing phase is reduced to minimum in favor of the drying operations that take place in the dryer section of the paper machine. In addition to production technology, other factors determining bulkiness are the use of lower pressure in the press nips, less intensive refining of the fibers and the creping of the paper.

As regards the type of fibers to be used, to obtain a high bulk it is recommended to prefer high-yield cellulose pulps, rigid and less subject to collapse thanks to the higher lignin content and lower porosity.

Absorbency

Absorbency is a fundamental property for any Tissue product dedicated to drying liquids. The sheet must therefore have both a high absorption speed, in order to effectively carry out its drying action, and a high liquid-holding capacity, to remove as much liquid as possible. Absorbency is given by the type of fiber used, the refining operations, the creping performed, the layers present in the final product and the additives used.

Strength

The Tissue paper sheet, in its life cycle, is subjected to significant stresses during production operations, in the converting phase and, finally, during use by the consumer. Hence the need to obtain a sheet with an adequate level of strength, given by the combination of three factors:

  • strength and arrangement of fibers in the sheet;
  • level of molecular bond between the fibers themselves;
  • presence of strength additives.

Specifically, the first two factors depend on the process variables and the type of raw material used, while the use of additives is a widespread practice to add further strength to the fibers.

Wet Strength

Some Tissue products, such as kitchen paper, must be resistant even when wet, and this characteristic depends on the level of molecular bond between the fibers they are made of. In order to maintain the wet strength of these products as much as possible, additives can be used to supplement or replace the hydrogen bond of the fibers. In this way, it is possible to ensure that the Tissue paper maintains up to 50% of its dry strength when wet

Softness

Softness, while still being a subjective measure based on individual perceptions, is a very important requirement and sought after by consumers, especially as regards products dedicated to the hygienic-sanitary or personal care markets. Furthermore, the perception of softness does not depend only on touch, but also on sound and visual perceptions such as color (the degree of whiteness) and noise at the moment of tearing.

Softness is usually divided into surface softness, related to the velvet-like feeling to the touch, and bulk softness, which is an indication of the ease with which the paper yields when crumbled.

How to maintain the 5 properties of Tissue at the end-of-line thanks to A.Celli solutions

These five qualities, obtained during the production process of the paper sheet, must also be preserved in the subsequent phases, from the winding of the Jumbo rolls up to the shipment of the final reels to the converter. This is why A.Celli offers its customers a wide choice of winders, unwinders and rewinders of the E-WIND® range able to adapt to any production requirement in terms of speed, width and weight, with specific focus on bulky Tissue paper characterized by high crepe ratios.

Would you like to know more? Download our free content “How to manage soft Nonwoven and bulky Tissue paper”!

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