Robot Picking: a project to trial artificial intelligence technologies in the sorting of waste
The recycling of materials is an increasingly crucial field for the future of the environment and of the communities that we serve. In order to further optimize processes in A2A facilities, we have decided to invest in a new solution: digitalizing and automating the waste sorting mechanism. From cost reduction to material quality: this is what we have discovered with our robot picking pilot project.
More accuracy, more safety
Very often, the sorting of waste in our treatment facilities is still carried out manually. In this context, human errors can result in a reduction in the quality and purity of the material sent for recovery. The constant evolution of artificial intelligence and precision robotics can make a significant contribution to the development of increasingly advanced solutions, further improving safety standards and reducing operating costs.
The A2A project
We have developed an experimental project for the use of robot picking. The system uses computer vision to recognize different types of material and a robot arm capable of intercepting and lifting out material passing along conveyor belts. A solution which allows us to:
improve the quality and purity of material sent for recycling/recovery;
reduce the cost of labour currently used for manual sorting;
increase safety for workers.
The pilot project went well, demonstrating that robot systems can operate at speeds as fast as or faster than those of plant workers while maintaining comparable levels of recognition and interception of materials. These results have led to the development and implementation of the solution at other facilities. A new trial is currently under way at the Novate plant, with a new type of robot, for the separation of Tetrapak from the paper and card flow. The picking system has already been installed and is in operation.
Picking the right robot
In brief, the use of artificial intelligence and precision robotics can contribute in the development of increasingly advanced solutions for the management of waste. At A2A, we believe that investments and projects like this one can contribute to creating a more sustainable tomorrow for everyone, moving step by step towards achievement of all the objectives that we set ourselves for 2030.