Sorting plant processes C&I and C&D waste streams in a single facility using technology from STADLER, ZenRobotics
STADLER and ZenRobotics have built a new sorting plant with Remeo Oy, a Finnish company specializing in environmental management. STADLER designed and built the materials recovery facility with Remeo, while ZenRobotics supplied AI-based robotics waste sorting technologies.
The facility, located in the Greater Helsinki Region in Finland, stands out not only for its artificial intelligence (AI) technology and high level of automation, but also for integrating commercial & industrial (C&I) and construction & demolition (C&D) waste lines in the same plant, something the companies claim is an industry first.
A unique design challenge: two plants in one
The new Remeo MRF presented unique and complex design challenges for being the first of its kind, combining a C&D plant capable of processing 30 t/h and a C&I plant with 15 t/h capacity, and its high level of automation. Resolving these issues required innovative thinking from Remeo, STADLER and ZenRobotics, as well as a close collaboration among the partners.
"The combination of our experience with the C&D line, STADLER's solid familiarity with the C&I line and ZenRobotics' impressive knowledge of robotics made this an excellent co-operation with the best results," says Mauri Lielahti, Business Director, Processing at Remeo. "We appreciated STADLER's capability to be innovative, their willingness to seek new solutions and that they were ready to listen to the customer's needs. We have been working closely with ZenRobotics since 2014 and have a continuous development cooperation. Thanks to the knowledge we acquired on our older recycling facility, we knew what we should and should not do. It has been easy to work with them."
The result of this collaboration is a design that "combines ballistic separators, screening drums, 3D drums, optical sorters, air separators, sorting robots, magnets, eddy-currents as well as the ZenRobotics robots, making it the most advanced waste sorting facility in the European Union," says Nikolaus Hofmann, Sales Engineer at STADLER.
Juha Mieskonen, Head of Sales at ZenRobotics, adds: "The Remeo facility is equipped with 12 robot arms that pick objects from bulky C&D waste that weigh up to 30 kilograms and together perform up to 24,000 picks per hour. In other words, the robots do all the heavy lifting that's neither safe nor feasible for humans. They sort multiple fractions on the spot, including different qualities of wood, metals, stone and plastic. The robots can be trained to recognize new fractions if needed, thanks to various sensors and artificial intelligence.
The facility integrates two different processing lines and features two consecutive robot systems on each line. It's the largest fully roboticized MRF of its kind, which brought new operations and safety aspects to take into consideration in the design."
Completion ahead of schedule
The successful outcome of this complex project lies on the reciprocal trust and close collaboration between Remeo, STADLER and ZenRobotics - from the design phase right through to completion of the build and installation.
Hofmann explains: "The design phase of the project requires a lot of communication and iteration steps to find the best suitable solution. The close work between Remeo and STADLER was fantastic in defining all the specific requirements for the sorting process and the arrangement of the sorting equipment. The communication, information flow with ZenRobotics was also excellent, and enabled us to develop problem-free solutions."
Lielahti adds: "It is no secret that the pandemic has been a challenge to us all and it has added its own challenges to our project as well. We had to do the whole planning phase in online meetings. The process has required rigorous communication, but it has worked well. STADLER's sales team has been involved all the time and we think it is one of the cornerstones for this project being such a success. We felt that there weren't any gaps between sales and manufacturing teams, and in our experience, this guarantees a successful project."
Project makes huge impact for Finnish waste management
The annual processing capacity of the facility is 120,000 tonnes of construction waste and 60,000 tonnes of energy waste produced in commerce and industry. This waste is recycled into high-quality alternatives to virgin materials, giving waste a new life and reducing the need for incineration.
Remeo's MRF will cover more than 30 percent of all waste recycling needs in the Helsinki region in Finland. In doing so, this facility also removes the need to export the waste from Finland as the capacity to recycle waste domestically increases. Remeo's facility offers effective recycling close to the origin of the waste, cutting transport emissions due to the short distance.