Smurfit Kappa confirms purchase of corrugated plant in Serbia for $150mn
The Ireland-based corrugated packaging company, Smurfit Kappa, has announced an agreement to purchase Fabrika Hartije Beograd (FHB) paper mill and Avala Ada corrugated plant in Serbia for a sum of $150mn from Kappa Star Group.
Through the agreement, it is anticipated that the acquisition will expand Smurfit Kappa’s geographic footprint, in addition to offering a full containerboard integration in the company’s packaging operations in Southeast Europe.
With a current capacity of 120,000 tonnes at the containerboard mill, there remains significant potential to accelerate capacity with a limited investment of capital.
- Ford and Baidu set to launch joint venture to test autonomous vehicles in China
- Siemens announces $681mn investment in Berlin to develop Siemens City 2.0
- Hitachi set to purchase Elliot International’s stake in Ansaldo for $918mn
- Read the latest issue of Manufacturing Global here!
The Belgrade-based plant has a current production of around 110mn square metres and develops corrugated and laminated packaging.
Smurfit Kappa Group CEO, Tony Smurfit, said: “We are pleased to announce our agreement to acquire FHB and Avala Ada, which will be a cornerstone to the expansion of our business in Southeast Europe.”
“We look forward to welcoming their experienced teams into the Smurfit Kappa Group, and we are confident their expertise and the high quality of the companies' asset bases will provide us with an excellent platform to grow in the region and further strengthen our European offering for our new and existing customers.”
Fluent.ai x BSH: Voice Automating the Assembly Line
Fluent.ai has deployed its voice recognition solutions in one of BSH’s German factories. BSH leads the market in producing connected appliances—its brands include Bosch, Siemens, Gaggenau, NEFF, and Thermador, and with this new partnership, the company intends to cut transition time in its assembly lines.
According to BSH, voice automation will yield 75-100% efficiency gains—but it’s the collaboration between the two companies that stands out. ‘After considering 11 companies for this partnership, we chose Fluent.ai because of their key competitive differentiators’, explained Ion Hauer, Venture Partner at BSH Startup Kitchen.
What Sets Fluent.ai Apart?
After seven years of research, the company developed a wide range of artificial intelligence (AI) software products to help original equipment manufacturers (OEM) expand their services. Three key aspects stood out to BSH, which operates across the world and in unique factory environments.
- Robust noise controls. The system can operate even in loud conditions.
- Low latency. The AI understands commands quickly and accurately.
- Multilingual support. BSH can expand the automation to any of its 50+ country operations.
How Voice Automation Works
Instead of pressing buttons, BSH factory workers will now be able to speak into a headset fitted with Fluent.ai’s voice recognition technology. After uttering a WakeWord, workers can use a command to start assembly line movement. As the technology is hands-free, workers benefit from less physical strain, which will both reduce employee fatigue and boost line production.
‘Implementing Fluent’s technology has already improved efficiencies within our factory, with initial implementation of the solution cutting down the transition time from four seconds to one and a half”, said Markus Maier, Project Lead at the BSH factory. ‘In the long run, the production time savings will be invaluable’.
Future Global Adoption
In the coming years, BSH and Fluent.ai will continue to push for artificial intelligence on factory lines, pursuing efficiency, ergonomics, and a healthy work environment. ‘We started with Fluent.ai on one factory assembly line, moved to three, and [are now] considering rolling the technology out worldwide’, said Maier.
Said Probal Lala, Fluent.ai’s CEO: ‘We are thrilled to be working with BSH, a company at the forefront of innovation. Seeing your solution out in the real world is incredibly rewarding, and we look forward to continuing and growing our collaboration’.