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SAGE Automation and Container Deposit Systems Australia (CDSA) have been announced as finalists in two categories of the 2018 Packaging & Processing Innovation & Design Awards (PIDA) for an innovative solution that promises to fight the War on Waste.
Their Vision Counting & Sorting System (CSS) solution was named finalist for the Design Innovation of the Year Award (Beverage Category) and the 2018 Sustainable Packaging Design Award for Machinery/Equipment.
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The Vision CSS automatically sorts, identifies and counts container types for recycling depots – all to help increase the uptake of recycling under the Australian Container Deposit Legislation (CDL) scheme.
The system is also an example of the Internet of Things (IoT) in practice; container data is sent to the cloud for a faster processing and customer refund process, as well as historical reporting and greater probity of information across multiple sites.
The system developed by SAGE and sister company digital transformation consultancy Nukon, targets to improve problems experienced by the recycling depot industry, including long wait times for customers, theft and poor count accuracy due to manual counting and sorting.
Technology alternatives to the manual counting method have also been limited; the European-made reverse vending machines on the market only accept and scan containers with intact barcodes – and one at a time. Anything slightly damaged or with no label cannot be refunded.
CDSA executive chairman Brett Duncanson said years of experience in the industry had prompted CDSA to find an alternative solution.
“We knew manual sorting was a pain point in the customer process and other technological solutions weren’t quite hitting the mark,” he said.
Automated sorting, counting, data collection and processing solutions
The award nominated ‘Vision Container Sorting System’ (CSS), the ‘Smart Wall’, the ‘Smart CAGE’ and the ‘Input Station’ are each designed for specific use from depots, through to public spaces or at public events.
The Vision CSS has five skids with 26 conveyors and a central vision system camera (by UniSA) which identifies each item and sorts them into the correct skid using a smart algorithm.
“The vision CSS accurately sorts and counts containers by type as well as providing daily and historical reports, depot performance, material amounts and linking to CCTV to deal with customer issues,” Nukon senior consultant Damian Jolly said.
It harnessed a range of technologies; the Nukon customer-facing solution used Single-Board Computers, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Encryption, while the SAGE control system solution used Beckhoff control and NORD drives.
“We’ve brought the worlds of IoT, digitisation, control systems and research together to come up with something highly novel and fit-for-purpose”, SAGE Group CEO Adrian Fahey said.
“As data becomes more pertinent across manufacturing, transport, operations and business, we see this collaborative approach as the gold standard. We’re bringing together industry and researches’ best minds to deliver the best thinking,” Fahey said.
“But it’s also about encouraging our clients to collaborate more between their IT and operational departments as this is where the biggest gains will be found.”
Greater quality for manufacturers
Combinations of the vision technology, sorting system and/or IoT data network is able to bring facilities faster and more accurate quality processes and data probity – at low implementation and operating costs.
“What’s exciting here is how the technology were using, like single-board computers and cloud-based IT infrastructure, is cheap to implement and run,” Mr Jolly explained, “We can set up 5-6 devices for less than cost of a desktop computer.”
The fact that the customer-facing solution was developed and deployed as Platform as a Service (PaaS), also reduces IT infrastructure and data hosting costs.
“We’d never be able to do this with traditional technologies so this shows how the IoT is changing our world – from manufacturing to recycling and beyond,” he said.
The PIDA award finalists will be announced in May 2018.