Material Handling Systems in a Paper Factory

Back in the 1970’s, when I finished school, I got a job at a paper factory as a team member on a project rolling up manually some large rolls of paper for industries. It was very hot, heavy work, not one that I really enjoyed, but it did buy some beers on the weekend!

Now, just recently, I got to tag along to a different paper factory when a friend who works with automated material handling systems took me along to see one of his clients and to demonstrate for me the difference in how paper roll handling equipment now works.

It was quite a change for me, as things are way more automated than they used to be, 30+ years ago. The machinery is way more sophisticated than it was then and so there is not as much demand for manual labor. They say people are being replaced by robots now, so perhaps in this case, it is true. There will always be a need to have humans to oversee the process though.

The demo I got to see was the roll of paper being wrapped; it was an interesting process. First, the rolls themselves were brought in to the area along a line of conveyors. The smaller conveyors were belt-driven, while the large ones were chain-driven.

A person stood behind a set of controls at a console to move the conveyors and operate the lift, drop, turn, and rotate mechanisms. So that the rolls could be wrapped correctly, they had to be right in the center of the platforms. This was done automatically by arms that worked off of computer-programmed robotics, but you are able to override this aspect and center these rolls manually if you need to.

The last part was the actual wrapping of paper rolls. This was done so quickly, and was all automatically done.

How this process of handling materials has changed a lot over the last 30 years! If I wanted to do this type of work again right now, I would have to be a much more skilled person than I was back then. There would be a lot of training I would have to undergo first.

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