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SamurAI sorting robot finding success in the recycling industry

Video: SamurAI in action at Lakeshore Recycling

In the spring of 2018, Plessisville, Quebec-based Machinex introduced its new SamurAI sorting robot, which, according to the manufacturer, has since generated a lot of industry interest. Nearly six months after its launch, the response of the market has been very positive and nine robots have been sold to date. The first two SamurAI in Canada have just been installed in Quebec while six more robots will be installed by next year in Canadian sorting centers. Moreover, the company says they continue to have regular requests from customers who are greatly interested in this cutting-edge technology.

The first Machinex robot was installed last May in Chicago, at Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS). (See a video of the system below.) Located on the containers line, after an optical sorter ejecting PET and a ferrous magnet. The robot picks three types of products: coloured HDPE, natural HDPE and asceptics. Furthermore, Machinex says the SamurAI robot offers the flexibility to remove other products such as PET and foil, and reduces LRS' reliance on manual labour in its single-stream recycling facility, which decreases operating costs while improving plant productivity.

"We are satisfied with this market response since the use of artificial intelligence is still very recent in the industry," says Jonathan Ménard, Vice President of Sales and Strategic Positioning at Machinex. "Our customers that have decided to install a SamurAI robot have all done their homework analysis, with the objective of guaranteeing a satisfactory return on investment while ensuring a familiarization with the sorting technologies of the future. "

In the last few years, Machinex developed sorting technologies to achieve extremely high recovery and purity rates for recycled materials. The SamurAI is a complementary piece of equipment that naturally converged with this development philosophy.

According to Ghislain Thivierge, Specialist in robot cells integration at Machinex, the SamurAI stands out from the competition with the power of its gripping tool. 

"We pushed its development to obtain a very powerful suction tool that offers therefore an excellent rate of success in gripping. The force of the suction lifts the containers while minimizing the movement of the surrounding material on the belt. The combination of this phenomenon and a success rate of 60 to 70 manipulations per minute give the equipment very satisfactory results. It must be understood that no matter how artificial intelligence performs, the robot must be able to capture the desired products despite their shapes, weight, and so on. Our current experience shows us that the SamurAI performs very well in grabbing the most difficult containers like large HDPE that have irregular shapes. There is no doubt that this is giving us a strong competitive edge. "

"Now that our SamurAI robot performs well on sorting containers, the next step is to tackle fiber sorting as it is an important issue for our customers," said Ménard."We also firmly believe that the future of the industry, or that at least the next logical step in optimizing the overall performance of sorting plants, will have to go through big data management. The robot thus becomes one of the tools for collecting, processing and providing feedback for some of this data." 

Machinex continues its partnership with AMP Robotics, whose role is to provide the artificial intelligence of the SamurAI robot, while Machinex provides all the robotic components required and ensures its complete integration into sorting systems.

Below - watch the new video of SamurAI at Lakeshore Recycling Systems.

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