The Power of AI

Customer Case Study

Max-AI® Robotic Technology enhances the recovery at NAWMA, Australia

The Northern Adelaide Waste Management Authority (NAWMA) is a regional subsidiary formed under the Local Government Act (SA) 1999 in South Australia to provide best practices of waste management and resource recovery services. NAWMA receives and processes material from a range of clients including businesses, industry and regional SA council.

NAWMA’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) not only provides a revenue stream for NAWMA’s Constituent Councils but also reduces exposure to the often- fickle commercial recycling industry. High quality secondary raw materials (finished goods) are recovered at the MRF, including paper, plastics, glass, aluminum and steel.

“Working alongside MRF staff, the Max-AI® Technology enhances the recovery of reusable materials in readiness for secondary reprocessing. The current performance indicates that Max-AI® System should be able to recover around 1,200 tons of recyclables per annum, which would have otherwise been reverted to landfill.”

Facility at a glance

– NAWMA’s Material Recovery Facility (MRF) is housed inside an industrial retro-fit building of 3,800 sqm, with a combination of trommels, magnets, eddy-currents, ballistic separators, and manual picking stations, fed by over half a kilometer of conveyor belts.
– The facility operates five workdays/week and processes 48,000 ton/year of material from curbside collection in NAWMA’s Constituent Councils and other metro, rural and regional councils.
– The MRF employs 50 residents.

BHS equipment/technology:

Thao Nguyen, NAWMA’s MRF Manager (Right) and his colleagues pictured in front of a Max-AI® ACQ Robot.

Max-AI® AQC-1 Recycling Robots

 

Customer Q&A

What motivated you to install robotic sorters in your recycling facility?
Not only to add AI technology to the process to give you the opportunity to make your process more reliable by adding AI to IR technology, but also to take advantage of the neural network and all the information inside to improve the process.

What are the main challenges or limitations you face with manual sorting methods?
Manual sorters lose stamina and picking efficiency when sorting for long periods at a time and need to take breaks which may lead to reduced recovery of product while they are away from their position.

What specific benefits did you hope to achieve by implementing robotic sorters in your facility?
To improve recovery efficiency of recyclable material and reduce the amount of recyclable material lost to the waste stream (landfill)

How has the implementation of robotic sorters impacted your overall recycling process and efficiency?
The recovery rate of recyclables has improved, and less recyclable material is lost to waste.

What specific benefits have you observed since adopting robotic sorting technology?
We are pleased that the technology is fulfilling the intended purpose of accurately identifying and recovering a wide range of hard plastics and fibre types.

Have you experienced any challenges or obstacles during the integration of robotic sorters into your facility? If so, how did you address them?
Initially we found that some material (including rope/string, hoses, film plastic and coat hangers) were problematic as this material would get stuck on the robotic arms and suction cup leading to blockages. To overcome this, our MRF team made some minor changes to our sorting procedures by removing these problematic items before they reached the robot. We have found that by following these new procedures, the robot is now running well with minimal blockages.

How would you compare the accuracy and efficiency of robotic sorters to manual sorting methods in your facility?
We have found the accuracy and efficiency of the Max AI to be fit for purpose.

What types of materials or waste streams have you found to be most effectively sorted by the robotic systems?
Hard plastics (containers) and fibre (paper and cardboard).

How has the introduction of robotic sorters influenced the working conditions and job roles of your employees?
The introduction of the robotic sorter has influenced the working conditions and job roles of our employees by reminding the material handlers that it is important to remove as many recyclables coming through the sort line as possible keeping in mind that one of our objectives as a MRF is to try to reduce the amount of recyclable material going out to waste or to the landfill (in line with the circular economy)

Have you noticed any cost savings or improvements in operational expenses as a result of implementing robotic sorters?
We have not yet investigated the financial benefits of installing the robot.

How adaptable and customizable have the robotic sorting systems been to meet your facility’s unique needs?
The robot has been easily adapted to suit our requirements.

Based on your experience, what advice or recommendations would you offer to other recycling operators considering the installation of robotic sorters?
Installing the robotic sorter within the NAWMA Material Recovery Facility has helped improve our recovery of recyclable products allowing these recyclables to be repurposed and diverted away from the landfill.

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