DS Smith invests in robot workforce at Kemsley mill

Richard Stuart-Turner
Thursday, August 12, 2021

DS Smith has invested in ten Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs) to increase sustainability and efficiency at its Kemsley paper mill in Kent.

The robots can transport paper reels safely around the warehouse
The robots can transport paper reels safely around the warehouse

The all-electric Rocla vehicles, supplied by Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe, are in and operating 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 have an average lifespan of 12 years and 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.

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

Kemsley mill manager Ben Jennings 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.”

Mitsubishi Logisnext Europe sales director Petri Petäys added: “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.”


Last month, DS Smith also partnered with industrial technology company Trimble to advance digitalisation at its paper mills across Europe following a successful trial at Kemsley of its data mining platform, Wedge.

Talk of the increasing use of robots in the print industry – and the wider workplace – has been ongoing for years, and the potential impact of the technology was covered in more detail in this Printweek briefing.

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