GAIKER starts the definition of scenarios in which innovative pilot studies of the recycling of WEEE (Waste Electric and Electronic Equipment) based on human-robot collaboration will be demonstrated.
The continuous technological development has increased the types and amounts of electric and electronic equipment (EEE) that are used daily by both industries and citizens. Additionally, as result of their continuous improvement and evolution, the devices have shorter life cycles and rapidly reach the end of life stage and become waste electric and electronic equipment (WEEE) that needs to be properly managed.
The grouping of the waste equipment by homogeneous batches prior to its treatment, the depollution (safe removal of potentially hazardous components or substances), the reclamation of reusable parts or assemblies and the separation of recyclable materials in fractions generated after the treatment of depolluted equipment, are the main stages included in the management of those complex products. Important innovations have been implemented in these operations during recent years but still comprise many actions that require considerable amounts of manual labour and demand experienced and skilled workers that make physical efforts and execute repetitive movements.
In this context, the HR-Recycler Project, funded by the H2020 Program of the EU under GA 820742 and coordinated by the Greek CERTH (Centre for Research and Technology Hellas), was started in December 2018. Its objective is creating collaborative environments between human and robots, where the tasks associated to handling and processing of WEEE, as classification of units, dismantling and removal of parts or concentration of material fractions, can be shared. GAIKER, as a research organisation expert in the design, development, testing and assessment of new recycling processes, has initiated the definition of scenarios in which the management of WEEE, based on human-robot collaboration, will be demonstrated and assessed. That work will start with the detailed description of plants lay-outs, robots, movements, navigation routes and interactions with workers. It will continue with the technical validation to measure increases in efficiency and productivity and the social life cycle assessment (SLCA) to determine the benefit in terms of increase of job quality associated to the sharing of task between humans and robots.