With the help of Semcon, two of Sweden’s largest companies in the forest industry sector, Holmen and Södra, are to examine how self-driving vehicles can improve the work environment and enhance safety at sawmills and other industrial sites. This type of vehicle has great potential for transporting timber and sawn wood within the sites.
Semcon’s autonomy specialists will join forces with the management of production development at Holmen and at Södra to carry out a feasibility study starting autumn 2021. This will include process mapping to identify which of the processes is best suited for autonomy, as well as develop a concept solution and make an assessment of the potential of the technology. If the feasibility study is successful, a pilot project will be planned to test the solution in live production with the aim of putting autonomous vehicles into operation in the future.
“Large, heavy vehicles are used at sawmills in an environment where it is currently unavoidable for them to mix with pedestrians, which could create a risky situation. We can use autonomous vehicles with advanced sensor and AI technology to create safer workplaces, while improving the quality of the activities”, says Mats Larsson, Software & Emerging Tech, Semcon.
Great potential for autonomous vehicles
Both Holmen and Södra carry out long-term and ambitious safety work at their sawmills. There is much to gain through new technology when it comes to areas such as quality, safety, and electrification. This is because even though the production part of a sawmill is often highly automated, there is still great potential for autonomous vehicles to provide transport within the site.
“At Holmen, we are continuously exploring new technology and innovative solutions in order to develop our activities. To ensure the safety of our employees is obviously a top priority for us, and we would therefore like to explore the potential of autonomous vehicles”, says Magnus Malmström, site manager at Holmen’s sawmill in Iggesund.
Autonomy, the next technological leap forward
“In addition to improving the work environment and enhancing safety, self-driving vehicles have proved to be well suited for electrification, which we consider to be an important part of our sustainability work as well as something that benefits our industry”, says Tomas Bengtsson, Director Production Engineering, Södra Wood.
Semcon has extensive experience of developing autonomous solutions in the automotive industry, and recognises the great need for this type of competence in many different industries. In addition to the automotive and forest industry sectors, Semcon also works with autonomous solutions in mining, ports and airports, among others.
The feasibility study will be carried out at Holmen’s sawmill in Iggesund and at Södra’s sawmill in Väröbacka.