Monthly Archives

June 2020

Due to Covid-19 the 6th plenary meeting is held online!

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Due to Covid-19 there has been a change in the consortium’s plans and the 6th plenary meeting will be a two-day online event between 30th June and 1st July.

Having previously visited COMAU SPA, the HR-Recycler partners were scheduled to travel to Valencia for their 6th plenary meeting and visit the premises of partner ROBOTNIK but due to the Covid-19 situation it was decided that the plenary meeting should take place online using Zoom video conference software.

Indumetal discusses Industry 4.0 integration with Circular Economy practices

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The Industry 4.0 concept refers to the so-called fourth industrial revolution, which involves digital transformation of the industry with the integration and digitization of all the industrial processes that make up the value chain. The proper integration of the technologies that industry 4.0 offers, enable significant benefits such as greater productivity and better resource management, more efficient decision making based on real information, optimal and integrated production processes, increased flexibility to achieve massive and personalized production in real time, reduction of operational time and reduction of defects percentage in factories. Therefore, Industry 4.0 is characterized by adaptability, flexibility and efficiency.

 The current ‘linear economy’ where everyday products are made, used and disposed should no longer work for businesses, society or environment, as earth’s raw materials are not limitless. Nowadays, there is a need for finding a new path of economic development that includes dealing with waste generation. Hence, there is a need for a transition into a new circular business model that recycles and reuses such waste with the objective of transforming it into higher value-added products to meet the current demands of society.

The integration of I4.0 technologies with circular economy practices have the capacity to significantly reduce  natural resources consumption. New and innovative solutions could make possible to extract even more raw materials, especially critical raw materials, from waste components in order to return them to the cycle. Thus, becoming circular in industrial settings not only involves saving a considerable amount of time, raw materials and consequently, money. It also opens all kinds of opportunities to innovation. To progress in this path, the recycling plant of the future should integrate all kind of I4.0 solutions, having as a result a smart plant, capable of easily adapting to changes in the composition and quantity of the materials to be treated and ensuring at the same time workers safety, avoiding human contact with waste as much as possible. HR-Recycler will help Indumetal in this approach, since it will create a hybrid collaboration environment, where humans and robots will harmoniously share and undertake at the same time different processing and manipulation tasks.

This is not only an improvement for the company’s competitiveness but it is also a step forward towards improving the WEEE collection rate in the European Union. For instance, in 2017, the collection rate of WEEE was 46 % in the EU and its recycling rate was 38,8 %. These rates are no longer acceptable for transitioning EU industry into a circular economy model.

In Indumetal we believe that circular economy strategies are the key for successfully implementing Industry 4.0, at the same time that Industry 4.0 provides technology to activates those strategies.

SADAKO showcase their developed technologies!

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SADAKO explains their role in HR-Recycler and illustrates how their developed technologies and models are applied to various stages of the project.

As an AI and computer vision company, the role of Sadako in the HR-Recycler project is to provide the crucial vision algorithms to the robotic systems, allowing the perception of the environment in which the machines evolve.

Because of the wide variety of vision-dependent systems being employed in this project (different types of robot arms and Automatically Guided Vehicles, central factory planner), many different challenges are encountered which need each their own specific solution. All of the designed solutions rely on the use of RGB-D cameras and computers capable of Neural Network inference, and will be a good illustration of the many capabilities and applications of computer vision.

Until now, Sadako has developed solutions for the Classification and Disassembly stages of the recycling process, as well as for the AGV navigation.

Classification: 3D perception and object recognition for bin picking
Disassembly: Video-inference for gesture recognition, needed for Human-Robot collaboration and task status management
AGV: Human location perception, needed for optimal AGV path planning and human safety

  • Classification:

This stage is the first of the recycling process, where WEEE arrives mixed in baskets and has to be sorted by type of object (Microwave, Flat Panel Display, PC Tower, Emergency Lamp)
The goal in this stage of the process is to identify the type and 3D orientation of each object lying in the basket, and provide the robotic arm with a picking decision. This is achieved through the use of Deep Learning vision algorithms and point cloud processing

  • Disassembly:

The following process step, Disassembly, is where the previously sorted objects are dismantled and their parts are sorted by material to be sent to their final recycling location. The dismantling is made by an operator, with the support of a collaborative robotic arm. In order to achieve collaboration with the robot, Sadako has developed software based on Neural Networks capable of detecting actions in a video, in contrast with standard computer vision that detects objects in an image. This software is able to interpret the gestures being made by the operator, allowing him or her for example to stop or start the robot at any time. The software also allows the monitoring of the dismantling task’s status.

  • AGV:

AGVs are used to transport WEEE objects between each stage of the dismantling process, reducing high-strain and repetitive physical work for the operators. To ensure that the AGV trajectory does not interfere with the movement of humans around the factory, the central system has to be aware of their position. To achieve this, Sadako has developed a solution based on Openpose, a software that extracts the position of the joints of humans on an image, crossed with depth information provided by the camera, thus allowing to perceive the position and orientation of operators in three dimensions. This software can be deployed at the Disassembly workstation as well as onboard the AGVs.

In its compromise of developing technology to improve the world and reduce health risks endured by humans in the industry, Sadako is staying strongly active and working in the progress of the HR-Recycler project, despite the hard times imposed by the pandemic situation

From theory to practice!

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In two sessions held at the BIANATT  Aspropyrgos installations on July 8-9 and September 23-25, the procedures of dismantling FPD screens, desktop towers, emergency lighting, and microwave ovens, as well as the procedure of classifying WEEE appliances, were recorded in a special high power desktop computer using high-performance cameras.  Both sessions were coordinated and recorded by CERTH researchers.

BIANATT provided all the equipment and installed a customized construction to allow image recording from many different angles. Below you may see photos of the installation that was used for this purpose.

The recordings will be utilized by CERTH to produce Deep Learning models capable of detecting the aforementioned appliances as well as their internal parts during the disassembly process.