Automated aluminium recycling with a “Tetris-like” palletising system

Reading Time: < 1 Minute - Excerpt from the newsletter 02/2022

Reliable iron measurement and reduced stress for workers

Jan Grabarske is Commercial Director at Metall Recycling Service GmbH & Co. KG (MRS), a recycling company specialising in aluminium. We at project designed and constructed an automated solution for MRS. The solution conducts iron measurements of aluminium packages and precision palletising of these packages with different sizes ranging from 100-150 kilogrammes.

How did you previously take care of palletising? 

Previously, a worker always took care of three important steps through manual intervention. He removed the finished pressed aluminium blocks, checked them manually for iron with a hand-held magnet and then placed them on pallets. By the way, we originally only requested a single palletising solution from project. However, Dirk Hebbering and his team had a bright idea and automated iron testing at the same time, promising it “could be done without any major effort”. To be honest, we weren’t aware at the time that we could also automate this, and very cost-effectively too! 

Let’s first take a look at the overall solution. What does it look like?

The freshly pressed aluminium packages pass through a testing unit on a conveyor belt. Each aluminium package is checked here to determine whether it contains iron or not. If not, the aluminium block is placed on the robot to be palletised. As the packages differ in size, this procedure is somewhat like playing Tetris for the robot… it calculates just where on the pallet the package would best fit. With two to three layers placed on top of each other, a pallet of this kind can weigh 1.8 to 2 tonnes.

And what is the advantage of automated iron measurement?

Iron measurement with this solution implemented by project group produces much more reliable results than the earlier manual process employed! With the previous method, iron was sometimes incorrectly “measured”. This was, in fact, a misinterpretation of an “eddy current” generated, for example, by sheet aluminium when it is measured.

What did you value most about the cooperation with project?

An industrial partner recommended project group to us. We soon noticed that their advice was excellent, and they also demonstrated a high degree of implementation strength! Indeed, the FE inspection, or iron check, was originally not included in planning. That was an extreme case of added value for us! We also like their professional cooperation as equals and the pleasant level of communication, from start to finish and with everyone involved, particularly Dirk Hebbering, the Sales Manager, and Project Manager Cindy Kopytziok.

About MRS

Located in Willich, North Rhine-Westphalia, the company was established in 2010 and specialises in the recycling of aluminium waste. This involves loose pieces of industrial scrap that may be created during punching or sawing, or even when creating beverage cans. This industrial waste is processed by MRS so that it can be used again by the individual company involved in each case. MRS therefore contributes to an ecological raw material cycle in the area of aluminium.