BHS launches Max-AI artificial intelligence sorting technology

Sorting technology manufacturer Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) has announced the launch of new Max-AI technology, a sorting system that uses artificial intelligence to identify recyclables and other items for recovery.

BHS launches artificial intelligence sorting technology Max-AI
Through deep-learning technology, Max-AI uses multi-layered neural networks and a vision system to identify objects similar to how a human does.

BHS says that this technology will drive improvements in material recovery facility (MRF) design as well as operational efficiency, system optimisation and maintenance.

The first machine incorporating the Max-AI technology is an Autonomous Quality Control (QC) unit that sorts container streams following optical sorting.

The robotic sorter uses its vision system to see the material, its artificial intelligence to think and identify each item, and a robot to pick targeted items. This system can make multiple sorting decisions autonomously, for example separating various materials such as aluminium and fibre while removing residue from a stream of PET bottles. All of this is done at rates exceeding human capabilities.

The first Autonomous QC unit using Max-AI is already in operation in Sun Valley, California, where BHS says it integrates with existing screen, air and optical separation technology to provide a fully autonomous PET sorting solution.

US-based BHS, which has a number of wholly-owned subsidiaries including Nihot in Amsterdam, is a worldwide leader in the innovative design, engineering, manufacturing and installation of sorting systems and components for the solid waste, recycling and energy-from-waste sectors.

The company plans to bring autonomous optimisation to MRFs over the coming years and CEO Steve Miller said: “Labour is a significant challenge for MRF operators and it’s obvious that Max will be very beneficial in helping our customers manage that aspect of their business.

“However, the highest returns will come from complete integration of Max-AI technology throughout every advanced BHS system. Our customers will not only have autonomous sorting, but also an intelligent central nervous system that observes what’s happening in the plant in real-time and adjusts process parameters to maximise profits.”

Thomas Brooks, BHS Director of Technology Development, added: “This technology was simply not possible until now. Recent advances in computer processing capabilities have enabled us to develop this ground-breaking machine learning platform.

“Max is more than just a robotic sorter. Max-AI technology will soon become the active brain of our MRFs, controlling various robotic, optical, and other sorting equipment, providing real-time material composition analysis, and making autonomous decisions.”

More information about the Max-AI technology can be found on the BHS website.