By utilising advanced automated sorting on the ground floor, society can keep precious resources in circulation. CEMAC Technologies’ Eric Paulsen explains.
Talk of harmonisation is widespread throughout the waste and resource recovery industry.
While often applied to discussions of policy and the need for consistent regulatory frameworks, TOMRA Sorting Recycling and CEMAC Technologies are taking the idea to the facility floor.
At Symphony of all Sorts, a digital launch event for TOMRA’s latest iteration of automated sorting technology, Volker Rehrmann, Head of TOMRA’s Recycling/Mining and Circular Economy divisions, highlighted the power of circular composition.
“The bright future we see ahead of us requires the cooperation and smooth interaction of industry and all stakeholders along the value chain,” he said.
“A good example of perfect interaction of all elements is nature. One reaches into the other, nothing is lost. It’s like an endless symphony, where various instruments work together to align and form a beautiful whole.”
One of nature’s best instruments is resources, Rehrmann continued.
“We know resource are finite. We are currently over exploiting mother nature’s resources and we can’t continue like this,” he said.
“Once the resources are gone, they are gone forever. We don’t have a second planet we can rely on – that’s why we need to keep resources in circulation like a musical loop.
“There is simply no alternative – the shift to a circular economy is paramount.”
It’s this line of thinking that inspired TOMRA’s new AUTOSORT range, which works to create a harmonised symphony through the accurate sorting of waste materials.
The idea being that through advanced sorting at the ground level, society can reuse resources currently in circulation, thereby ensuring sustainability for future generations.
The line features three new equipment innovations, a next generation AUTOSORT, AUTOSORT SPEEDAIR and AUTOSORT CYBOT, which incorporates robotic recycling technology.
According to Eric Paulsen, Managing Director of TOMRA’s Australian partner CEMAC Technologies, all three products are designed to meet societal demand for faster, more efficient and smarter recyclable material sorting.
He explains that the next generation AUTOSORT line brings together the latest in technological innovation to deliver advanced accuracy for complex sorting tasks, thereby facilitating higher throughput rates.
“Compact and flexible in construction, AUTOSORT allows for an uncomplicated integration into existing and new facilities,” Paulsen says.
“Utilising TOMRA’s FLYING BEAM technology, homogenous light distribution for better detection and monitoring across the entire belt width is guaranteed, resulting in heightened performance and operational efficiency.”
Additionally, the AUTOSORT’s monitoring system generates more information from the sorting process than previous models, which can be used to support process and maintenance planning.
New sorting software also enables faster processing, Paulsen says, with improved functionalities such as the use of neuronal deep learning networks.
“Deep leaning enables sorting processes that cannot be mastered with conventional technology, which extends application possibilities,” he says.
“The system also allows for extended detection through DEEP LAISER, meaning the AUTOSORT can detect unknown objects in the material stream through intelligent object recognition.”
The second component of TOMRA’s new line, the AUTOSORT SPEEDAIR, is designed to stabilise light materials such as plastic films or paper on a high-speed conveyor. This, Paulsen says, allows operators to generate higher throughputs while enhancing sorting quality.
The AUTOSORT SPEEDAIR incorporates speed-controlled, fan-driven air inlets that generate a constant air stream over the conveyor belt to prevent material from moving.
“By doubling the speed of the conveyor belts up to six metres per second, customers benefit from a higher return on investment, as well as lower installation and running costs,” Paulsen says.
“As the first system on the market with no belt cover, access to the unit for maintenance is enhanced, while material blockage potential is lower when compared to conventional high-speed systems.”
Rounding out the new range is the future thinking AUTOSORT CYBOT, which according to Paulsen, is the first waste sorting robot on the market to combine four essential technologies at once.
“The addition of a robot arm to the AUTOSORT system opens up a wealth of new opportunities for highly automated applications within the sorting process,” he says.
With the announcement of the Federal Government’s new $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund in early July, Australia’s resource recovery industry is set for a period of unparalleled growth. As such, Paulsen stresses the need to capture the opportunities afforded by automation.
“Only through the variation of suitable automated sensor technologies can true process capacity go beyond manual sorting limitations,” he says.
“By achieving improved purity levels through automation, we can deal with today’s challenges, while also ensuring an economically and environmentally sustainable future.”
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