Tomra Recycling empowers light intensity of Flying Beam for advanced sorting accuracy

How does Flying Beam differ from conventional technology? 

Philipp Knopp: The most remarkable and important difference is our integrated light source positioned inside the system’s scanner. Conventional technologies on the market rely on external lamp boxes, which poses several issues. First, they attract dust, which decreases light intensity on the belt and, in turn, can affect the sorting accuracy. These exterior lamps also require routine cleaning, which results in hours of machine downtime and lost productivity. Second, conventional systems use an array of dozens of lamps, which even slightly differ in light spectrum and generate an unbalanced light distribution. An extended number of lamps undoubtedly heightens the risk of lamp failure and, thus, maintenance efforts. Experience has shown us that whether external lamps are exchanged or removed for cleaning, they are not always put back into the correct position and angle, which ultimately decreases light intensity, adversely affecting the detection of materials. Operators can prevent these occurrences when opting for Flying Beam. Based on its limited number of easily accessible lamps and integrated lamp power monitoring system, our customers benefit from convenient maintenance and receive alerts when a lamp fails. Consequently, the operator can rapidly replace the lamp and reduces machine downtime. 

Another differentiating factor is the risk of fire. External light sources are far more dangerous than our technology, since they generate high heat and can pose a fire hazard in waste sorting applications. Thus, positioning the lamps inside the scanner provides the advantage of always having clean lamps, which provides optimal light intensity and protects from fire hazard, since lighter materials like foils do not get stuck to the outer box and potentially catch fire.

In the end, integral lamps deliver many more benefits and reduces the potential of poor sorting performance.

You named a lot of advancements, but what does it mean for your customers?

Philipp Knopp: First, by means of an intensified light source, more information can be extracted from the materials, analyzed and used to make a fact-based decision as of what material to keep or to sort out. More light results in more information and more precise sorting. Our first experiences in deinking from mixed waste have shown that by means of our new technology purity levels of >95-96% can be achieved. This is much more compared to what can be attained by manual sorting. However, the advancements made are not limited to a single application only. For instance, good results have also been achieved in multilayer and thermoform sorting and further applications that are equally promising. 

Furthermore, customers profit from simple maintenance and can monitor both the lamps and the sensors. In this way, operators can continuously check the condition of the sorting system, see whether the system is running under optimal conditions and intervene if there are any deviations. Since the lamps’ aging process is also monitored, customers can change the lamps as soon as they are alerted about lamp failure and counteract a decline in performance. Considering the NIR sensor, which is very sensitive to temperature shifts, customers benefit from the technology’s continuous calibration. In very difficult environments, temperatures vary from 8 degree to 28 degrees, which can negatively impact the sensor’s signals and thus the entire sorting result. Our continuous calibration counteracts these effects by adjusting the sensor to the respective temperatures. Thanks to this outstanding feature, losses can be considerably prevented.

Flying Beam also proves to be very energy efficient as we use fewer lamps than conventional systems. Energy savings of 70-80%, corresponding to a cost saving of a few hundred euros for sorting systems with several sorting machines, are achieved. Additionally, Flying Beam helps to contribute to a smaller carbon footprint for the plant, which is imperative in the age of climate change and adds to the plant’s economical credentials. 

In conclusion, our unique Flying Beam technology provides indispensable features supporting businesses in achieving their goal of high recovery rates across numerous waste streams.