Identification System for Sorting Plastics

Client: Machinex

Machinex, a world leader in the design and manufacturing of waste sorting, recycling and management equipment, called upon INO for our expertise in automated machine vision systems about the development of a new sorting station line.

Development work initiated in 2008 led to the creation of an optical sorting system to recycle plastics based on hyperspectral measurements. This collaborative project’s main objective was to develop an efficient station that would minimize contamination between plastic materials (such as PTE, HDPE, PVC, PEBD, PP and PS), and sort them into different categories for an optimum recycling process.

The challenge was significant as these plastic materials have similar molecular composition. Another important challenge was the treatment speed, given the fact that a large volume of material has to be identified in an extremely short period of time. Ease of maintenance and plant safety were also deciding factors.

Finally, particular attention was paid to the optical design in order to optimize the system’s alignment stability. It features a light system optimized for this application, which has been patented.

The results: an efficiency rate of 95% and over

The optical solution has been integrated into the MACH Hyspec®, an ultra-performing sorting station for plastic. The station’s high-speed detection system takes less than a millisecond to analyze the conveyor, exceeding industry standards and allowing for the processing of a high volume of material in a short time. The higher depth field detection of 430 mm on the belt boasts unsurpassed efficiency where it comes to ejecting rolling objects such as bottles. This stateof- the-art equipment is now available worldwide.

A second project allowed for the expansion of the range of materials that can be sorted by this technology, such as wood and fiber. A third project is underway, and aims to further broaden Machinex’s offerings. The collaboration between Machinex and INO is a prime example of innovation at work in developing a competitive range of products for an international market. It has enabled a Quebec manufacturing flagship to increase its market share in a highly competitive industry.

Machinex’s project to develop optical sorters for the recycling industry was a significant challenge that required several years of work. INO helped us accelerate the development process, and their experts enabled us to find solutions to challenges we faced more quickly.