Stadler inaugurated its Test and Innovation Center in Krško, Slovenia, in 2020 to deliver customer demonstrations and training, as well as conduct Research and Development activities. The 1,200 m2 temporary structure has since been extended to 2,000 m2 and houses most of the machines needed to demonstrate the complete sorting process. The machines are laid out within the facility in this sequence so that it is possible to conduct tests on individual machines or on the whole process as it would be implemented in a sorting plant.
The full sorting process in actionThe sorting line, which has a capacity of 5 t/h of light packaging material, is set up to carry out six sorting processes: dosing with a screw doser, label removal – which can be bypassed with a moving conveyor belt – followed by ballistic separation for 2D, 3D and fines. Reversible and movable conveyors below the ballistic separator determine which 2D and 3D fraction proceeds to the magnetic and non-magnetic separators. The optical separation process was recently upgraded with a second NIR sorter, so that 2D and 3D fractions can be sorted in parallel, or either fraction can go through a double extraction in the two machines. A further upgrade is planned for this year, with the addition of the latest Tomra Autosort with NIR technology and Stadler’s new PX acceleration conveyor.
The value of customer tests
The Test and Innovation Center is a valuable tool to ensure that the design developed for a customer will deliver the desired results with their material. Nejc Božič, Project Manager, explains: “Testing our customer’s material enables us to see how to plan our technology. We can also test new machine settings for a specific input and set up the unit for a specific function or material from the beginning. We can test for a variety of parameters: most often we measure throughput, recovery and purity, but also energy consumption of individual units or the whole plant, compressed air consumption, or data from the different sensors. We also run tests to show our customers how the designed plant will work for them and deliver the desired results.”
A valuable resource for researchThe ability to perform tests on both individual machines and the full process, together with the expertise of STADLER’s team at the Test and Innovation Center make it a valuable resource for research projects. “These tests enable us to assess different aspects of the process, such as the effect of throughput rate and input composition on machine performance, or to research the potential of machine parameters and the machines’ digitization,” says Dr. Bastian Küppers, Engineer for Digital Business Development at STADLER. “They give us insights into the potential and limitations of our machines and our plants, enabling us to improve our process and plant designs.”
The Center has recently been conducting research into adaptive machine control, which is becoming increasingly relevant with the growing digitization of plants. “Adaptive control of the processes enables an improved and more stable sorting performance. This can lead to higher purity levels, yields and throughputs, while keeping downtime to a minimum,” explains Bastian Küppers.