Lakeshore Recycling Systems installed a new robot at its Heartland Recycling Center in Chicago that employs artificial intelligence to identify materials. The investment is expected to save the company $120,000 to $130,000 annually, Waste360 reported.
The SamurAI sorting robot made by Machinex has artificial intelligence that operates according to a pre-determined order of task hierarchy. The robot continues to improve and learn from operating experience to assure maximum recognition efficiency, according to Lakeshore Recycling Systems (LRS).
“We were looking at SamurAI a year ago when the paper markets fell apart, especially mixed papers,” Alan Handley, the CEO of LRS told Waste360’s Arlene Karidis. “We had to reduce costs to keep our operations’ cash flow neutral or mitigate as much loss as we could. All we could do was remove labor from the sorting line(s). We started looking at automation.”
The robot is a fully contained machine that has a suction cup production arm to pick up material plus four support arms, Karidis explained. As it pulls the materials, the machine learns about them, and uses that information to improve productivity. At the moment, SamurAI works with rigid containers, but Machinex is doing R&D on fiber grades.
LRS says this is the first SamurAI installation in the United States. The recycling company has ordered two more. Each robot can replace two full-time sorters, Karidis reported.
At the moment, a handler is keeping an eye on the robot to make sure materials get sorted accurately but Handley told Waste360 that he hopes to phase that out in the future.
Last year LRS acquired K. Hoving Companies and became the largest privately-held waste and recycling company in Illinois. The company now controls nearly 2.2 million tons of inbound waste per year.