Artificial Intelligence Used to Sort Plastic Waste in Gloucestershire

In December 2022, ZenRobotics have recently had some coverage on the BBC News website. ZenRobotics’ relationship with English Waste Management firm Grundon, who are currently trialling ZenRobotics “Fast Picker” robot at its Bishop’s Cleeve site in Gloucestershire, have every expectation that it will improve their efficiency.

Grundon hopes AI technology will increase the volume of recyclable material it can capture
© Terex

Grundon hopes AI technology will increase the volume of recyclable material it can capture
© Terex
In this piece by the BBC the machine is described as ‘a high-speed robot for maximising material recovery’ and is made up of a conveyor belt and robotic arm, which collaborate to scan the waste, decide what to pick and deposit it down one of two chutes.

Supplied by Helsinki-based company ZenRobotics, the “Fast Picker” is developed with an ‘In-built brain’ which, with the appropriate training, becomes more advanced over time. Eventually, its AI memory will learn to pick and sort a variety of waste streams at a “human rate”.

Once proficient in identifying and separating plastics, Grundon will begin training the robot to pick steel or aluminium cans, paper, and cardboard.

The robot picks items that it recognises and deposits them down one of two chutes
© Terex

The robot picks items that it recognises and deposits them down one of two chutes
© Terex
The BBC article explains that Grundon hope that through implementing this technology, they can increase the volume of the recyclable materials they capture and aims to eventually have a fully autonomous sorting plant. This will allow them to benefit from lower operating costs and uninterrupted, reliable sorting.

Ed Fagan, Grundon's head of projects, said this to the BBC: "Both optical and robotic sorters can be deployed alongside humans in our waste sorting facilities. We can really see robotic sorters making a difference in environments which are less well suited for humans, such as the sorting of contaminated waste or working in areas with high levels of noise and dust."

Grundon aims to develop technology to eventually have a fully autonomous sorting plant
© Terex

Grundon aims to develop technology to eventually have a fully autonomous sorting plant
© Terex
From coverage such as this from the BBC and other industry publications, it is easy to see that the “Safe Sorting” mantra of ZenRobotics is proving an important part of customers such as Grundon and others in waste management. The ability to continue doing the work that they do whilst keeping people out of harms way entirely is an opportunity that is too good to miss.

In their fleet of waste separation technology, ZenRobotics also supplies the “Heavy Picker” robot, better suited to bulky materials, and their ZenBrain which boasts a highly advanced recognition ability and autonomous decision-making.

Link to view the article itself on the BBC News website visit https://www-bbc-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-gloucestershire-63502444.amp

www.terex.com/zenrobotics

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