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Stora Enso tests self-driving truck for transportation of wood chips at its Uimaharju pulp and sawmill in Finland

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Stora Enso tests self-driving truck for transportation of wood chips at its Uimaharju pulp and sawmill in Finland

March 11, 2021 - 07:43
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HELSINKI, March 11, 2021 (Press Release) -Stora Enso began testing a self-driving truck for the transport of wood chips at its Uimaharju pulp and sawmill in Finland one year ago. With the help of this driverless vehicle, it can be established how much automated transport can reduce emissions and improve safety. The truck’s six senses enable its safe movement around the mill area. The test will continue during 2021.

By test-running the self-driving truck, Stora Enso has collected information on what kind of environmental and safety benefits and cost savings can be achieved with the state-of-the-art vehicle when driving around the mill grounds.

“The use of the automated truck has considerably increased safety in the mill area, particularly in the vicinity of wood chip piles and warehouses. The use of automation has also reduced emissions. Testing has gone well, and the truck does the right things in the right places. The test was planned to last for one year, but we have decided to continue it in order to gain a more comprehensive experience of how the truck works in the different seasons,” says Lauri Kuusisto, Director of Operations at Stora Enso Wood Supply Finland.

For example, the driver will in the future work in the remote-control room, and thus benefit from better ergonomics. The automated truck is expected to reduce emissions by optimising engine operation and route selection. Reduced fuel consumption will also bring financial savings.

The truck’s six senses help it observe its environment

The maximum speed of the automated vehicle moving in the grounds of Stora Enso’s Uimaharju mill between the sawmill and the pulp mill is 20 km per hour. The truck transports wood chips from the sawmill to the pulp mill, travelling the 1.4 km distance about 15 times a day. The wood chips, which are a by-product of sawmilling, are used as raw material for pulp production.

Safety is the number one issue in the testing of the vehicle. During the initial stage of the testing process, a driver has been in the truck’s cabin monitoring the progress of the test. Later this year, the operation of the truck will be controlled remotely from outside the vehicle.

A number of things are considered in the truck’s safety technology and that allow it to be called a truck with six senses. These senses are:

  • Laser scanner or lidar: Measures the free space around the truck and forms three-dimensional information about obstacles for the truck’s system. Snow or thick fog can affect the lidar’s perceptive abilities.
  • Radar: Measures the free space around the vehicle two-dimensionally. Unlike the laser, the radar cannot perceive details, but weather conditions, on the other hand, do not affect its performance.
  • Thermal-imaging camera: Detects heat sources in the vicinity, for example a person or vehicle.
  • Sound detector: Recognises sounds taught to it such as a fire engine siren or a person’s cry for help. The truck can be set to stop or slow down when it hears a certain sound.
  • Radio frequency transmitter: Persons moving around the mill grounds carry with them a small card that can be detected by an RFID reader in the vehicle. The truck can be set to stop when such an RFID tag is detected on or near the vehicle’s driving route.
  • Camera: A moving image is the greatest benefit in the remote-control stage, allowing the driver working in the remote-control room to make decisions based on a live image that he/she sees and on other data received from the vehicle’s sensors. However, this is not an actual safety equipment.

What’s it all about?

Testing of the automated vehicle is a joint project between Stora Enso and wood chip transport operator Mantsinen Group. The smart control system and equipment for the vehicle are supplied by Hiab (part of Cargotec), which has been developing the system together with VTT. The safety work also involves InnoTrafik and VTT. Nokian Tyres is also participating in the project, testing smart tyres equipped with Nokian Tyres IntuituTM sensors.

Stora Enso’s sawmill and pulp mill

Stora Enso’s Uimaharju sawmill produces sawn pine timber. Located in the same mill area, Stora Enso’s Enocell pulp mill produces dissolving pulp and softwood pulp for the needs of, for example, the textile and paper industries. A total of approximately 300 people work in the mill grounds.

Part of the bioeconomy, Stora Enso is a leading global provider of renewable solutions in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper. We employ some 23 000 people and have sales in more than 50 countries and our shares are listed on the Helsinki (STEAV, STERV) and Stockholm (STE A, STE R) stock exchanges.