Automation in the paper industry: a more efficient solution

Automation in the paper industry: a more efficient solution

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China’s paper industry is seeing rapid growth

China is the world’s paper products manufacturing hub. Since 2009, the country has been the world leader in production and sales. According to the Chinese Paper Maker’s Association, as of 2019, there were nearly 2,700 paper makers in China. In that year alone, they produced over 10 million tons of paper and cardboard. Most of that was done in the 11 provinces, districts and municipalities in East China, which accounted for 74.3% of the entire country’s production. Now is a perfect time to bring automation to the paper industry.

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For China’s many small and medium-sized paper enterprises, equipment automation and upgrading are vital as they look to remain competitive in the market. However, many times these firms are limited by their own financial and technical constraints. They require flexibility, support, and compatibility when considering automation solutions.

The application of AGVs in the paper industry

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Rocla AGV automation in the paper industry: case study

The client

The customer is a major paper producer in the Netherlands that makes drawing and packaging paper. The company produces approximately 600,000 tons per year, averaging around 1,900 tons per day. The explosive growth of e-commerce drove demand for packaging paper, creating new opportunities.

The challenge

However, the company soon discovered that as production volumes increased, the capacity of existing manual forklifts could not keep up as daily average handling demand hit 4,500 tons of paper rolls at peak times. Trucks even queued for loading outside the factory as the lack of logistics efficiency impacted overall production.


The firm opted to improve logistics efficiency by fully upgrading its automated warehouse logistics. However, the customer knew that it was vital that the new equipment and systems could be switched smoothly with stable operation quickly established during automation upgrading. Since production runs 24/7, overall productivity could be seriously affected if this process was inefficient or not smooth.

The customer decided on Rocla’s AGV automation solution. This solution includes 16 AGVs, an automatic battery change system, and a warehouse management system. It also includes regular equipment maintenance, spare parts, and repairs, as well as a 24/7 help desk.


A fleet of driverless AGVs is tasked with transporting paper rolls from the paper machine to the warehouse and then from the warehouse to the truck loading area. The AGVs pick up paper rolls in the production area and stack them in a designated space in the warehouse. Then, they automatically pick the target rolls and move them to the loading area for delivery to the customer based on the order requirements.


  1. Significant improvement in handling efficiency

“It’s clear,” the customer’s logistics manager said. “With this 24/7 AGV fleet, we can pick orders during the night and have the exact 40 truckloads of paper rolls ready to be shipped that day in the loading dock the next morning.”

2. Cost optimization

On the one hand, the application of AGVs can cut labor intensity and usage costs, while on the other hand, the precision of AGV operations can help avoid damage to products caused by manual errors. As a result, the customer can reduce annual paper losses by about 100 tons.

3. Improved safety

The high reliability and safety of AGVs allow workers to work safely in the AGV operation area, avoiding accidental injuries in the past.

4. Digitalized management

Transporting paper products through AGVs allows the logistics management software to monitor and track products in real-time during transportation. This ultimately realizes interfacing with the automated warehouse logistics management system.

ASAP Rental and Rocla Provide Advanced AGV Solutions for Chinese Clients

For more than 20 years, the parent company of ASAP Rental and Rocla, a European manufacturer of AGV equipment, have cooperated in the international market. They started to expand into the automated handling equipment market in China in 2017.

With Rocla’s experience working on AGV projects and its unique one-stop fleet solution, ASAP Rental is confident of providing full support to Chinese enterprises when upgrading to intelligent manufacturing.