"Circular Economy" policies represent one of the strategic topics of the European Union for the future program and provide for specific development tools in the field of research and innovation; the recycling of metallic materials and the consequent reuse is the sector’s greatest interest. The precise selection of scrap, especially expensive materials such as copper, is essential.
Supported by the Province of Trento, BM Group Polytec is developing a research project consisting in a multi-sensor system for the identification and separation of copper and / or non-metallic materials from scrap, with the collaboration of FBK Fondazione Bruno Kessler, one of the most important European research centers.
The typical process of selection and recycling of metals consists in the shredding of the incoming scrap and metal waste, the mixed material is then divided through automatic separators that extrapolate most of the ferrous material. The separated waste is further selected through a manual sorting during which the copper wires and rags or other inert materials are identified and separated.
The material’s automatic identification and selection system is proposed as an alternative to the phase discussed previously, improving significantly this part of the process which nowadays is still at a very low technological level. The solution will aim to operate in a fully automated way for both identification of the materials to be separated as well as the actual separation thanks to one or more robotic arms.
The system consists in two macro-blocks: the first deals with the identification and selection of the material to be extracted through different screening technologies, the second has the purpose of extracting only the previously identified parts from the conveyor belt, to then deposit them in special collection containers outside the belt itself. Engineered to be adaptable to different systems, the fully automated handling system will also be calibrated based on the type of material to be extracted as well as based on the type of process and the required sorting speed, in order to guarantee, through the use of robots integrated with 3D scanner systems, maximum operator’s safety, positioned in the control desk, and efficiency.
In the upcoming months, the system will be completed and tested and, according to the project schedule, will become an illustrative prototype in March 2022.
BM Group Polytec Team:
Ion Rusu, Project Manager
Filippo Guenzani and Andrea Faes Mechatronics Engineering Dpt, Michael Corradi and Alessandro Ferrari Software Development and Computer Vision Dpt.