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ZenRobotics installation brings 80 picks per minute to U.K. MRF

A robotic picker picks plastics along a conveyor
A ZenRobotics Fast Picker installed at a Grundon MRF ZenRobotics

Grundon has updated its waste sorting process to pick higher-value products and increase efficiency using a ZenRobotics Fast Picker.

Grundon was founded in 1929 and has since evolved to become a waste management service provider offering the collection, treatment, recovery, recycling, and disposal of non-hazardous waste streams as well as dealing with all aspects of hazardous waste including contaminated waste, clinical and healthcare waste, and waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). The company operates a range of treatment facilities.

Grundon researched options to update its waste sorting process, particularly in picking food-grade plastics, such as HDPE and PET. The challenge was to increase efficiency, pick higher-value products, and facilitate their recycling and reuse at a higher level.

A ZenRobotics solution to pick more

Grundon settled on a ZenRobotics Fast Picker – a robotic system to pick more recyclables with greater efficiency. Grundon collaborated with ZenRobotics throughout the implementation process. ZenRobotics provided realistic expectations regarding the machine's capabilities, what it could pick, the cleanliness of the picking process, and its overall efficiency. The commissioning process was seamless, and by integrating the Fast Picker into their operations, Grundon can now sort food-grade plastics, including milk bottles and soft drink bottles.

"The Fast Picker arrived on schedule, meticulously packaged, and the installation was completed smoothly over a long weekend," says Ed Fagan, head of projects engineering and design at Grundon. "The commissioning process, which included a comprehensive three-week training session, ensured a seamless transition. Since its installation, the Fast Picker has been running for over a year without major breakdowns, reflecting its reliability and efficiency."

Improvements in accuracy, environmental impact, and safety

The Fast Picker has enabled Grundon to pick more products efficiently and accurately, surpassing its previous capabilities. The picking process became faster, allowing for improved productivity and throughput.

It has also enhanced the environmental impact of its operations by effectively sorting food-grade plastics. Grundon can sell these plastics at a higher value. This helped to facilitate its recycling and reuse at a higher level, contributing to a more sustainable waste management process.

The Fast Picker's presence on the sorting line has reduced the need for human intervention, enhancing safety for human pickers. With the Fast Picker handling certain products, human pickers can focus on their tasks with improved safety.

Grundon sees artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics as integral to the future of MRFs. The combination of AI and robotics allows for the capture of valuable information on the sorting line, which can be used to optimize future recycling processes. The company envisions future plants equipped with multiple robots and optical sorters, all interconnected through a central brain.

"The demands of our customers are constantly evolving and meeting their needs with a sustainable approach that supports them in extracting as much value from waste while increasing the efficiency and safety of their operations is what we at ZenRobotics are all about," adds Michael McMenamin, a regional sales manager at ZenRobotics.

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