DS Smith invests in AGVs at UK’s largest paper mill

DS Smith, the FTSE100 sustainable packaging company, has invested in 10 Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to increase sustainability and efficiency at its Kemsley Paper Mill in Kent.

The all-electric Rocla vehicles, supplied by AGV pioneer Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy, operate 24/7 and perform a variety of tasks around the fully automated warehouse including collecting reels from the production conveyor, storing them and picking them for orders. When the AGVs aren’t tasked with work, they automatically switch to ‘housekeeping’ mode, rotating stocks in order of age to maximise warehouse capacity.

The robots, which have an average lifespan of 12 years, can transport paper reels safely around the warehouse at speeds of up to 8mph. They operate with zero local emissions and when their battery level drops to 30%, they complete their current task before going to the Automated Battery Exchange Station where they choose the optimum charged battery as they get ready for another 10-hour shift.

As the largest mill for recycled papers in the UK with an annual production capacity of over 840,000 tonnes, Kemsley is embracing robotic technology to operate safely, efficiently and sustainably.

Ben Jennings, Mill Manager at Kemsley Paper Mill, said: “The recent boom in e-commerce has increased the demand for our papers and packaging. Every day, around 2,200-2,400 tonnes of paper leaves the Kemsley mill and so it’s critical that our talented team has the latest innovations to benefit our people, customers and the environment.”

Petri Petäys, Sales Director at Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe Oy, said: “There is an increasing demand for sustainable, safe, and efficient solutions in the paper and packaging segment, driving interest in our solutions which are optimised over almost 40 years of experience across various industries. What sets apart this project with DS Smith, seamlessly realised with the local support of Logisnext UK, is the dedication and can-do attitude embraced by the Kemsley Mill team. This allowed us to create one of the most efficient implementations even during these challenging times.”

In July 2021, DS Smith announced it had partnered with global industrial technology company Trimble to advance digitalisation at its paper mills across Europe following a successful trial at Kemsley of its powerful data mining platform, Wedge.

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