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Tomra to add robotic arm to its sorting arsenal

Germany-based Tomra Sorting Recycling, part of Norway’s Tomra Group, used an online event in June to announce the release of new sorting technology for several different recycling applications.

The company’s June 9 “Symphony of all Sorts” online presentation included the launch of two new products –the company’s new generation technology AutoSort and AutoSort SpeedAir—and gave a preview of another product with a robotic arm called the AutoSort CyBot.

Tomra says the CyBot feature is its “first robot” and consists of a new generation AutoSort scanner working in combination with an electromagnetic sensor and a robot arm.

“The addition of a robot arm to our AutoSort system opens up a wealth of new opportunities for highly automated applications within the sorting process,” says Valerio Sama, a Tomra vice president and head of product management. Sama says the device “will deliver an even higher level of quality control of recyclables such as HDPE [high-density polyethylene], PET [polyethylene terephthalate] and PP [polypropylene] plastic.”

Sama says the CyBot has shown it “can reach more than 70 picks per minute,” depending “on how many fractions you want to sort out.” He said the throughput by weight can depend on the application and whether the arm is looking for a light plastic or a heavier metal or paperboard material.

The company says its new generation AutoSort system is equipped with a broad range of sensors and uses data to classify objects. The machine is capable of separating materials that are difficult, or even impossible, to separate using conventional technologies, says Tomra.

Optional technologies with the upgraded AutoSort include the new Deep Laser, which contains object recognition designed to enable a deeper sorting sharpness. Artificial intelligence (AI) is incorporated via the Deep Learning feature.

SpeedAir technology, which Tomra calls “an additional component to Tomra’s AutoSort range,” has been designed to separate light materials such as plastic films from a mixed stream, or office paper from cardboard. Using the technology followed by a splitter can help with “generating a higher throughput and enhancing sorting quality,” says the firm.

Incorporated as standard in the latest AutoSort is Tomra’s Sharp Eye technology, which is designed to enhance sorting sharpness and improve the separation of difficult-to-target fractions while also saving energy.

“Our new generation AutoSort system is an incredibly exciting development, as its use of versatile sensors and intelligent software will enable it to meet the demands of a whole host of current and future sorting applications,” says Fabrizio Radice, vice president and head of global sales and marketing at Tomra Sorting Recycling.

Tomra says the product launches were originally planned to take place at IFAT 2020 in May in Munich. After the event was canceled, the company adapted its plans and instead launched the new products with the “Symphony of all Sorts” online event. The musical theme was chosen “to reflect the way in which the latest generation AutoSort and its complementary products create a perfectly harmonized symphony to sort all kinds of [materials] with advanced accuracy and sophistication,” says the firm.

Tom Eng, senior vice president and head of Tomra Sorting Recycling, expresses enthusiasm for both the online event and the products introduced at it. “We are delighted with how well the digital launch event went. COVID-19 has enforced new ways of working and communicating, and as such we were more than happy to test out a digital launch platform for the first and probably not the last time given its success,” he comments.

Adds Eng, “The launch provided an opportunity to showcase our range of complementary, connected and perfectly harmonized technologies that together deliver a symphony that is capable of sorting all sorts of [material] at unparalleled sorting performances and with impressive throughput and yield.”

More details stemming from TOMRA’s event and product launches can be found on this web page.

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