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Data-driven sorting boosts profitability

The Melosch Company uses TOMRA Insight to increase throughput and improve product quality

A sorting machine scans incoming material
TOMRA Insight gathers near real-time data and safely stores it in the cloud so it can be accessed remotely via web-based desktops and mobile devices.

As a fourth-generation company that values continual development through technology, the Melosch Company is utilizing the TOMRA Insight data platform to make data-informed decisions that positively impact the business long term. TOMRA Insight collects data from automated sorting units to provide a fully transparent performance overview that can be used to instantly optimize machine settings.

Where tradition meets innovation

The Melosch Company is an operator-owned family business from northern Germany whose origins go back over 100 years. The company offers tailored disposal solutions and modern processing facilities to optimally prepare secondary raw materials. Municipal waste paper sorting remains a strong pillar of its business today and processes more than 150,000 metric tons of high-purity recyclable paper annually. 

Vadim Sander, branch manager at the Melosch Company's Ahrensburg plant, explains: "The quality of our raw materials can vary based on the location, but the quality of what is sold to the processors has to be consistently high. To meet our customers' quality requirements, we decided to embrace digitalization and continue being at the forefront of our industry."

Sander's task was to find an economically feasible automated sorting solution, especially in a market with high demand and labour shortages. 

"As the packaging and paper industry steadily transitions to a circular economy, our customers' quality expectations have gotten a lot higher. Quality used to mean adding manual sorters to remove impurities and distinguish between paper types. Now it's about delivering nearly perfect quality in a fraction of the time. With the labour environment not being in our favour, it only seemed logical to upgrade our lines with the newest generation AUTOSORT with TOMRA Insight to uncover new opportunities for optimization. The fully automated, connected sorting units maximize throughput and stabilize our workforce. Our customers are satisfied too because the TOMRA sorting units deliver consistently pure yields," says Sander.

TOMRA Insight reduces operational costs

TOMRA Insight gathers near real-time data and safely stores it in the cloud so it can be accessed remotely via web-based desktops and mobile devices. Since the platform continuously measures the quality of the material stream in the sorting line, operators can optimize settings to respond to material composition changes. Since TOMRA Insight provides deep-dive data that wasn't previously available, managers can now make operational and business decisions based on clear-cut and detailed information.

The value of always having sorting line data on hand offers huge potential. Downtime can be reduced by monitoring machine health, supporting predictive and condition-based maintenance management, thus preventing unscheduled machine shutdowns. Monitoring variations in throughput can also improve efficiencies through TOMRA Insight data.

In the case of the Melosch Company, older infrastructure and other restrictions meant paper was fed onto the sorting line at a 90-degree angle, resulting in poor material distribution across the accelerator belt. Through its advanced data-driven graphics, TOMRA Insight detected an unknown opportunity, and the company installed a metal sheet to alter the feed angle and evenly spread the input material. Depending on the material stream, data optimization processes can potentially increase throughputs by an entire ton per hour without compromising quality. 

The data platform can also reduce operational costs by minimizing loss and providing optimal quality. After installing two new generation AUTOSORT machines with TOMRA Insight, the Melosch Company now has fewer reclamations of material, proving that the sorting data offers a competitive advantage in salable secondary raw materials. 

In addition to performance and composition charts, TOMRA Insight also allows users to create reports specific to batches rather than a particular time frame.

Bottom-line results driven by data

The Melosch Company's Ahrensburg plant operates with two new AUTOSORT machines which are connected to TOMRA Insight and were installed in 2020 and 2021. Due to the positive results, the Erfurt plant will soon connect its two AUTOSORT units from the previous generation to TOMRA Insight as well. 

At the company's Pinneberg facility, a new AUTOSORT complements an existing AUTOSORT machine. 

The Ahrensburg plant has already seen two significant benefits in the first few months of using TOMRA Insight - increased throughput and nearing 97 percent purity in deinking without manual labour. Sander explains: "The constant increase of requirements to meet occupational safety combined with labour shortages in the waste sector puts us under pressure to reduce hand pickers from our line. We needed an intelligent solution to improve our processes and profitability."

In addition to performance and composition charts, TOMRA Insight also allows users to create reports specific to batches rather than a particular time frame. A planned automated reporting feature will soon be released to make data access and analysis even easier. Users will define reporting requirements and frequency, including the email distribution list for automatic reporting.

What the Melosch Company likes most about TOMRA Insight is the way it makes it possible to have near real-time data from anywhere.

"It's fantastic to see so much data about the performance of our machines and quality rates whenever we want. Now we always know what is happening at our plants: we use the mobile app to compare the exact data to our subjective valuation of the material before it is sorted. The information shows whether we should make adjustments on the line, and the data tells us whether those adjustments are working. It takes the guesswork out of yield management.

"I expected TOMRA Insight to be useful, but we were not sure just how much. It includes reporting features we hadn't considered before, which have positively impacted our bottom line. Also, the open communication with TOMRA is extremely valuable - they ask about our needs or features we'd like to see in the future. Recent updates have included batch reporting, charts giving defect composition in percentages, conversions from imperial to metric weight unit, and usability improvements that help us get even more out of our data. With more updates in the pipeline, we're certain TOMRA Insight enables us to improve our recovery rates, our product quality, and our profitability," says Sanders.

Company info

875 Embarcadero Drive
West Sacramento, CA
US, 95605


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