Eberhard Group open new AI-driven recycling plant
Fully automated facility uses ZenRobotics technology to capture high-value material from C&D waste
ACCORDING to a recent study, construction and demolition (C&D) waste materials make up over a third of the total waste generated in Europe.
The Eberhard Group – a Swiss family-owned company and ZenRobotics’ long-term partner – have long recognized the importance of waste minimization and how recycled aggregates can represent a more sustainable, economic, or local alternative to the use of virgin materials.
At the company’s recently opened recycling plant, which is one of the largest facilities of its kind in the German-speaking region of Switzerland, advanced AI and robot technologies from ZenRobotics is helping to capture valuable high-purity secondary materials from mixed C&D waste. The end-result is a new circular raw material that matches the quality of virgin aggregates and can be used to replace primary construction materials.
‘After water, concrete is the most used resource of the world and mixed demolition waste is one of the biggest waste streams landfilled,’ said Patric van der Haegen, division head development at Eberhard.
‘We simultaneously dig enormous holes into the planet while piling up huge mountains on the other side. New sustainable alternatives are needed. Our new EbiMIK plant sorts mixed demolition waste in all its components. This boosts the circular economy because each valuable material can be reused individually. Robots with artificial intelligence play an important role in this revolutionary, new facility.’
The Eberhard Group estimate that the circular raw material will lead to significant emission reductions. The production of cement, a key component of concrete, involves combustion processes that release CO2 into the atmosphere, contributing to global climate change.
The company says its new zirkulit concrete product will save around 10kg of CO2 emissions per cubic metre whilst providing the same mechanical and chemical qualities as conventional concrete. Eberhard’s zirkulit concrete is also optimized to use almost 7% less cement than conventional concrete.
To ensure that all high-purity secondary materials are captured from mixed C&D streams, the Eberhard recycling plant uses AI-powered sorting robots from ZenRobotics – one of the first companies to supply and apply AI-driven robots to waste-sorting environments over a decade ago.
Intelligent robots are used as the main sorting system at the new plant which includes two parallel sorting lines with multiple high-capacity, heavy-duty robots on each line. Having this robotic technology and AI system in place means the plant has the capacity to sort up to 200 tons of mixed waste per hour.
The robots, with the aid of six grippers across the two lines, can pick up 12,000 items per hour, separating minerals and foreign impurities from the waste stream.
‘We have been working with the Eberhard Group since 2015 and are impressed by their pioneering commitment to find new, circular solutions for construction materials,’ commented Jarmo Ruohonen, CEO of ZenRobotics.
‘Eberhard was one of the first operators to see the possibilities of AI-based sorting in improving the efficiency and profitability of waste-management. We are proud to be part of this exceptional facility that applies our smart waste-management solutions while helping to reduce CO2 emissions significantly.’