Norway’s first AI-powered robotic sorter for industrial waste using ZenRobotics technology
Norwegian waste management frontrunner Bjorstaddalen has opened the country's first robotic sorting facility for C&D and C&I waste in the municipality of Skien in Norway. The fully automated robotic sorting station supplied by ZenRobotics features robotic arms that will perform up to 6000 picks per hour. The robotic sorting station is set up as a standalone waste sorting process connected to Bjorstaddalen's existing material recycling facility that has a total capacity of 150 000 tons per hour.
Robots enable a dramatic increase in material recovery
By investing in AI and robot technologies, Bjorstaddalen aims to become a leader in material recycling in Norway. The robotic sorting station will substantially increase material recovery, reducing waste incineration and making a major leap toward the circular economy.
- We want to be at the forefront and are constantly looking for better solutions for handling industrial waste. It has long worried us that there is a low degree of material recycling in Norway compared to other countries. We are good at recovering energy in this country, but that only means that waste is incinerated. We want to do something about this, says Executive Vice President Sindre Hauen from Bjorstaddalen.
New sorted fractions bring new customers
The intelligent sorting robots are able to recover fractions that are currently recycled at the facility such as A, B and C wood, non-metals, hard plastics, black plastics and inert. However, Bjorstaddalen sees even bigger opportunities in the future.
- The robots can be trained to identify interesting new fractions. If new markets open up in the future, or there are new demands from the authorities, the robotic plant can be trained to recognize these factions as well, continues Executive Vice President Hauen.
Bjorstaddalen is currently further developing and ramping up the robotic sorting line to identify different kinds of recycled waste. The company has already entered into agreements with several customers who want to use the sorted fractions as raw material.
- We are proud to support an industry trailblazer like Bjorstaddalen that sees the enormous possibilities provided by AI and robotic technologies in advancing the circular economy and capturing an increasing number of valuable high-purity materials in a cost-efficient and accurate way, says ZenRobotics' CEO Wolfgang Schiller.
- The waste industry is set to become further digitalized and automated in the coming years. Our forward-looking customers are investing in intelligent sorting robots now to get a headstart in applying these emerging technologies and build a competitive edge in the market, continues Schiller.
Traditionally, waste management companies have operated using a simple "management of waste" approach to operating a MRF. Throughput targets and continuous operation (minimal downtime) were the main driving forces. The industry has changed however, and the focus moving forward is now on optimizing system performance and reliability, in conjunction with increasing recycling rates and a drive for a "greener" and more sustainable tomorrow.
When considering the addition of, or upgrade to, an "intelligent" MRF, for municipalities or private operators, the main factors should always be the client's (operator) current requirements, and evolving market needs, which include throughput, reliability, output quality, and adaptability. Equally important is a full understanding of what is really expected from any proposed system. Having an engaged and focused mindset for the project with the client from the beginning, will impact and drive the entire design process. This then impacts the overall project result, through to the productive, efficient, ongoing operation of the facility itself.