First automated mill in southern hemisphere
MPACT Felixton recently completed the rebuilding project of its paper mill, which has seen the process converted to 100% recycled fibre and an increased capacity of some 40%.
This was revealed during the unveiling of its automated onsite warehouse facility, the first fully automated reel paper storage warehouse mill in Africa and the southern hemisphere.
The construction of the warehouse commenced in late 2016, with the ground works complete before the end of the year.
Last year saw the commencement of the building’s civil and structural works, with the main equipment ready for installation by the third quarter.
Construction of the warehouse was carried out by local construction companies to ensure job creation in the Zululand area.
The final part of the project was the installation of stateof-the-art logistics to handle and store product from the paper machine into a fully automated onsite warehouse facility.
The automated paper warehouse was key to enhancing the mill’s competitive advantage through improved operational efficiency.
The warehouse stands approximately 25m high at the apex and covers an area of 3 000 square metres, with an additional 1 800 square metres loading bay under cover.
Mill and warehouse specs
The post-tension floor design, for example, which is cast on 570 stone column piles, had to be constructed to a level tolerance of 3mm per square metre to meet the vertical stacking requirement of a 15m high stack of reels on a base diameter of just 1 300mm.
With just 100mm spacing between reel stacks, the warehouse has a storage capacity of 15 000 tons of paper or approximately
11 250 reels.
The automated warehouse consists of two overhead cranes (each weighing
40 tons with a lifting capacity of 3.3 tons), with a vacuum lifting device which picks the reels up on their ends and stacks them in vertical stacks up to 15 metres high.
Specially designed conveyors transport the reels straight from the paper machine to the automated warehouse cranes for storage.
The automation of all warehouse and conveyor systems is integrated into a central management system which links to the business ERP system.
The intelligence of the system is such that it ensures the uninterrupted flow of reels from the paper machine while simultaneously picking dispatch orders to ensure optimised truck loading times.
Any idle time on the cranes is used to re-arrange reel stacks to ensure correct product availability for trucks which will arrive over the next 24 hours.
As a result, efficient stock control, rotation and tracking of the reels in the warehouse is 100% effective.
The automatic warehouse has enabled the mill to increase its productivity and efficiency at lower operating and energy costs and has resulted in a significantly reduced carbon footprint.
‘South Africa is no longer isolated from the global economy and to remain competitive now and into the future, we have to embrace the best available technologies to ensure the growth of the businesses,’ said Felixton Mill Manager Brian Smith.
The automated warehouse, appropriately named ‘Inyosi’, was of cially opened by Managing Director Hugh Thompson (right). With him are Richard Polayya and Mill Manager Brian Smith
The paper reel storage warehouse and 3.3 ton automatic cranes