This vision has already become a part of the everyday reality in dozens of large and small waste recycling plants around the world. The smart sorting robots, delivered by Finnish company ZenRobotics, pick materials suitable for recycling from a mixed waste stream. Robots can work nearly 24/7 – tirelessly, always quickly and efficiently without breaks. Machine vision sensors identify the material on the conveyor belt and transmit the information to the robots, each of which can sort four different fractions at the same time.

The company started in 2007 with the neurorobotics research group in the Aalto University. In its business, it combines two global megatrends: smart robotics and material recycling. No wonder the company’s solutions are raising interest globally, and it has reached the leading position in its field. The company’s ZenRobotics Heavy Picker robot in particular has no peer anywhere in the world. The Heavy Picker is designed for bulky and heavy waste streams, like construction and demolition waste, picking up objects weighing up to 30 kg.

In 2018, the company launched the ZenRobotics Fast Picker robot, which is designed for picking lighter materials, such as plastic and aluminium.

“We are years ahead of the other robot suppliers in the field in using robots, machine vision and artificial intelligence. We bring automation to waste recycling plants, where materials are still often sorted manually. The plants have received our products enthusiastically, and they can see the financial benefits they bring in the long run,” says Project Manager Keijo Karvinen.

Rationalising component choices

Robotic waste sorting can address many challenges the waste industry is facing. Thus, the demand has increased rapidly, and even though the company is using its whole production capacity, it still needs external partners. The cooperation with Arnon started in 2018.

“Arnon is a major expert player in the field. We can trust that if and when our market explodes and we need a lot of automation switchgear, Arnon can scale its production up accordingly and fulfil our needs,” Karvinen says.

Arnon delivers the automation switchgear of the Fast Picker robots and is responsible for their electrical design.

“We have been happy with the cooperation and the way Arnon communicates with us. We make plans for the future together and think about how we can optimise electrical design or the components. Good planning makes production more efficient. Arnon has helped us to rationalise the component choices for the switchgear and proposed solutions that make their use and maintenance easier.”