Resource Recycling News

Another AI-driven sorter hits the MRF market

The RoBB-AQC is capable of making up to 70 picks per minute. | Courtesy of Van Dyk Recycling Solutions

Recycling equipment manufacturer Bollegraaf has unveiled its latest-generation sorting robot, and Van Dyk Recycling Solutions is marketing it in North America.

The RoBB-AQC uses artificial intelligence and NIR sensing to identify items on a conveyor belt, according to a Van Dyk press release. The system is the latest entrant in a growing field of sorting robots using artificial intelligence.

Capable of making up to 70 picks per minute, RoBB-AQC is designed for quality control of different streams of paper, plastic and metal packaging. Each unit can sort materials into four chutes.

Bollegraaf has been testing robotic sorters in MRFs since 2009. In 2016, Resource Recycling reported that Bollegraaf’s system used NIR and height detection cameras to identify items based on their material and through 3-D detection.

The latest Robb-AQC uses visible light cameras that detect items based on visual characteristics, in addition to its NIR identification, said Virginia Marr, marketing manager at Norwalk, Conn.-based Van Dyk Recycling Solutions.

Over a decade of research, Bollegraaf discovered the weak link in the system tends to be the suction cups and arms, according to a press release. Years ago, the mechanical equipment looked markedly different from the delta-style robot Bollegraaf is using now, as well.

“Bollegraaf set out to construct a robot that could actually withstand the harsh MRF conditions it was destined to be exposed to,” the release states. “After over a decade working with four different picker attachments they landed on an arm construction that is tough enough to last and does not require daily replacement parts.”

A number of companies are now providing sorting robots for MRFs, plastics recycling facilities, C&D debris facilities and electronics recycling facilities. Commercial-scale providers include AMP Robotics, Bollegraaf, Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Machinex (in partnership with AMP) and ZenRobotics.

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