First au­to­mated mill in south­ern hemi­sphere

Zululand Observer - Weekender - - ZO BUSI­NESS - Or­rin Singh

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

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