(Autonomous Quality Control) to increase recovery of recyclables without adding additional manual labour at the company’s commercial and commingled dry recyclables MRF in Maldon, Essex.
Launched earlier this year by Oregon-based Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), the Max-AI AQC incorporates an AI-powered vision system to identify recyclables and make decisions, along with a robotic sorter that picks items and places them into chutes.
BHS explained that the artificial neural network technology mirrors the neural framework of the human brain to identify recyclables in a similar manner to a person. When the recyclables have been identified by the vision system, a robotic sorter then does the picking.
Green Recycling is the first company in the UK to invest in the new technology, which has already been successfully installed in three US MRFs.
At Green Recycling’s facility, equipment is used to open bags, collect plastic film, OCC, and segregate material using screen and air separation technologies. The Max-AI AQC follows the aforementioned equipment, working on the recovery line to capture card, news and pams, HDPE natural, PET bottles and wood.
The Max-AI AQC intelligent vision system is trained using a process called deep learning and can immediately identify these various recyclables, something that simply cannot be achieved using most widely available recycling technologies. Max-AI AQC is also capable of making various decisions including prioritising the picking order based on size, value and location, and then directing the robotic sorter to pick and place the recovered end products into chutes.
The Max-AI AQC is capable of making approximately 65 picks per minute, a productivity rate that would require Green Recycling to source and employ staff in two manual sorting positions, employment spaces that are said to be difficult to fill due to the nature of the job itself.
When the new kit is in place, it is expected that Green Recycling will be able to run this section of the recovery line with no human sorting at all. The Max-AI AQC will be operational in Q1 2018.
“We believe that this technology will revolutionise MRF operations and we’re excited to be the first to introduce it here in the UK,” said Rob Smith, Managing Director at Green Recycling. “Our aim is to deliver a flexible and efficient recycling process to our customers and we’re always on the lookout for the latest technology to further automate and improve our process. We believe we have found it with Max-AI AQC.”
“Not only is the technology capable of sorting up to six different end fractions in one location, but it is also adjustable should the material or markets change, and will deliver significant operational improvements. We can’t wait to put Max to work!” he concluded.
Jamie Smith, General Manager at Green Recycling, added: “With the addition of Max-AI to our team not only will we significantly improve our recycling efficiency but more importantly we will shift job specification to a technology based outlook. While the perception would be to replace human sorting, here at Green Recycling it will actually be creating opportunity with a new technology based position for a brand new member of staff.”
Earlier this year BHS appointed Steve Almond to the position of Sales Consultant for the UK and Ireland. “I wanted to represent the Max-AI product line because I believe that this technology is a game changer for my customers,” he said Almond.
“MRF operators consistently face challenges when humans have direct contact with the waste stream: staffing problems, high labour costs, health and safety risks, and management and performance-related loss. I’m looking forward to delivering this unit and helping a valued customer overcome these challenges and increase operational performance,” continued Almond.
“Green Recycling has opted to embrace innovation and as the first in the UK to introduce this technology, I’m confident that the investment will be as successful for the company as it is noteworthy,” he concluded.
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