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Automation for the Paper and Forest Industry

Pulp and paper is an industry tailor-made for automation. In several critical areas of the mill, automated cranes can help reduce labor costs, optimize storage, track inventory, reduce roll damage, increase productivity and lower the capital expense associated with forklift systems.  Moving into the future, automation is taking an ever-larger role in promoting mill safety, productivity and profitability.

Fully automated paper storage

Konecranes Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) can revolutionize productivity, especially in mills with limited space. A fully automated crane increases handling speed, stacking paper or tissue rolls much higher in less space than comparable forklift systems, without requiring floor space for aisles. The system accurately tracks the location of each bar-coded roll individually, assuring fresh inventory. And, up to 30 percent of the energy used to lower each load is recaptured by Konecranes DynAReg regenerative braking system. Electricity is fed back into the network and used to run other machinery, lowering overall energy costs and reducing environmental impact. Best of all, mills using ASRS can eliminate the labor and capital cost of forklift systems.

Automation protects people as well as products

ASRS systems are also designed to be safe around people. Access to the automated area is synchronized with crane operation, so that access is only allowed when the crane is set to stand-by state. Separate protected areas can also be set inside the normal operating area of the crane. The crane is synchronized with the conveyor control system by means of hardwired signals during material pick-up or drop-off. This maximizes the safety of material exchange and both systems can stop the process if there are any unexpected faults or alarms.

In addition, the cranes are equipped with safety features such as overload protection, over-speed protection, limits for crane motion and emergency stop functions. Konecranes automated cranes for paper mills are engineered to meet or exceed applicable international and local safety regulations.

Automation in parent roll handling may pay for itself

Parent roll handling cranes can handle full rolls and return the empty shafts on semi-automatic mode to and from the paper machine pope winder. Using this approach, jumbo roll stands can replace expensive traditional conveyor systems. Lifting beam hooks with mechanical locking devices and positioning sensors provide better operational safety, in both manual drive mode and semi-automatic drive mode. 

Safety is also improved because an operator does not need to be nearby–the crane works in a totally closed area. Eliminating the conveyor rails saves the mill far more than the cost of automating the crane, allowing mills to recover their investment sooner.

Automated train loading system reduces loading time for pulp units

Konecranes newest automation innovation can move 1,100 tons of pulp per hour onto train cars. This fully automated system also fills a 1,400-ton buffer at the railway platform twice a day. The cranes move 32 tons with each lift compared to a maximum 8 tons for a forklift, saving not only time, but also significant labor and capital costs. It is also possible to drive the cranes manually, assisted by Konecranes Smart Features for positioning and safety. In addition, the crane system has an interface for personnel access control to prevent people from entering the working area when cranes are operating in automatic mode.  

Software interface for warehouse management

The software in our automated cranes is our own technology, the result of decades of experience with crane automation. This technology has been tested and field proven in thousands of applications with various customers. 

During normal operation, the warehouse operators do not directly interface with the crane. The operator or the Millwide Execution System (MES/ERP) gives commands to the Konecranes Warehouse Management System (WMS), and the WMS controls the crane. Integration between the crane and the WMS is done seamlessly with a standard interface. As the paper and board rolls, tissue rolls, or pulp units are fed into the automation area by conveyors, the WMS has an interface to the conveyor command system for product data interchange. Alternatively, the WMS can command the conveyors. The crane automation has a hardwired interface to assure a safe handover of each handled unit.

Controlled access to the automation area is essential safety feature, and in case of unauthorized entrance the crane automation immediately sets the crane to a stand-by status. Access to the area can be requested by “traffic lights” at each possible entrance. After finalizing its current workcycle, the crane automation permits personnel to enter. The cranes can also be operated manually for maintenance.

Smart Features for increased productivity

Our cranes include many features to help maximize your productivity. The positioning of the crane and the load pick-up and drop-off processes are fine-tuned so that waiting times are minimized. Extended Speed Range allows the hoist to lift at higher speeds when there is no load on the lifting device, thus reducing cycle times. Sway Control, Target Positioning and DynATrak for skew control refine load handling, enhancing safety and productivity. Seamless integration of all these advanced crane features with Konecranes Warehouse Management System allows  crane movements to be optimized to serve your storage strategy.