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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Sofidel: this is how paper production and logistics are changing

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The latest discoveries of Industry 4.0 are hidden behind a paper napkin or a tea towel
(from Ciechanow, Poland)

How is the production of “tissue” paper (toilet paper, kitchen towels, etc.) changing thanks to technology and how are logistics evolving? To find out, we flew to Poland, to one of the most innovative factories of the Sofidel Group, an Italian company known for the Regina brand. In fact, Ciechanów is home to Sofidel’s second automated warehouse in Europe, after the one built in Sweden, and the third in the world, along with Circleville, Ohio, in the United States. Here you will find carts that move with sensors, fully automated storage warehouses and even self-driving trucks.

The factory of the future

Everything is integrated in the same production site, covering an area of ​​230,000 square meters, which today has a production capacity of 90,000 tons of paper per year, tripled thanks to technological implementations. In this futuristic factory, there is a first phase of the paper mill, namely production, which leads to the reel, the raw material which is then converted into the final product.

In the second production area, called Converting, 11 production lines transform the rolls into different types of paper; they produce the tubes around which the paper is wrapped; they do the embossing i.e. the printed embossing; and finally they pack it up.

Self-driving truck

The movement of goods is fully automated, from the laser-guided vehicles in the factory, which transport and move the pallets thanks to the sensors on the walls, to the self-driving trucks, which transport the reels without a driver on board. paper from production to the warehouse, which is located 400 meters from the production site. A GPS system and transponders guarantee the safe and reliable positioning of the vehicles and connect the two buildings of the production site.

A fully automated warehouse

We were struck by the great efficiency of the process, which is completely machine-driven. In this factory, work skills have shifted from manual handling of goods to supervising complex machines that perform the work automatically. So more trained professional profiles are needed that are able to manage complex dynamics. The showpiece of this Sofidel factory in Poland is the 36,000 square foot automated warehouse that manages 32,000 pallets of goods, with sophisticated software that separates the goods to be stored and those to be shipped to customers based on orders. The warehouse has only 14% oxygen to reduce the risk of fire and increase worker safety. The internal design also saves up to 40% space. Sofidel has invested in the automation of processes, logistics and production facilities in the paper sector and is promoting the culture of digitization in all business divisions, says Hanna Konopko-Kotarba, Country Operation Manager of Sofidel in Poland.

The Sofidel group

To reduce transportation costs and environmental impact and improve customer service, Sofidel has built and acquired its own factories, such as this one in Poland, close to the outlet markets. In Europe, the production sites are located within a radius of 350-400 km from customers. To date, the Group, an Italian family business owned by the Stefani and Lazzareschi families, based in Porcari, in the province of Lucca, is the second largest manufacturer of tissue paper in Europe and the seventh in the world. Founded in 1966, it is present in 12 countries in Europe and in the United States with nearly 6,900 employees, a production capacity of 1,440,000 tons, a consolidated net turnover of 2,801 million euros and its products are present in 59 countries worldwide world.

Source: TG 24 Sky

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