Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is ZenRobotics Recycler?

A: ZenRobotics Recycler is a revolutionary robotic recycling system for sorting waste. The system consists of a sensors package, the artificial intelligence (AI) powered control system ZenRobotics Brain(tm), and an industrial robot arm inside a safety enclosure.

Q: What is the capacity of ZenRobotics Recycler?

A: The capacity is based on the picking speed multiplied with the average weight of the picked objects.

 If one system with two robot arms makes maximum 5000 picks per hour, then we can conservatively estimate that the average speed might be around 3000 pick per hour. If the robots are operated for example 4000 hours per year, then the number of picks is 4000 h x 3000 picks/h = 12 million picks per year. This number should be multiplied with the average weight of the picked objects, and the yearly capacity is then known.

If the average weight would be one kilo per piece, then we are looking at a yearly sorting capacity of 12 000 tons (12 milion picks x 1 kg) per system. If the average weight would be only half a kilo per piece, then we are looking at a yearly sorting capacity of 6 000 tons (12 milion picks x 0,5 kg) per system. A two kilo average weight would result in 24 000 tons (12 million picks x 2 kg).

But then you can increase the working hours from the 4000 hours mentioned in this example. Note that there are 8760 hours available in a year – and the robots hunger to work! You can do your own math!

Naturally the throughput, that is the amount of material flowing on the sorting belt, can be much higher. And of course, this is the capacity of only one unit. As many units as needed can be installed. We are happy to visit you and make a more detailed analysis of your waste and the average weights!

Q: How much does the ZenRobotics Recycler system cost?

A: One basic ZRR system has a price of very roughly half a million euros. The are many useful extras available. Notable is that the total operation cost (energy, wear etc) of a system is very low. The system can even be run on solar power. So it is not about what it costs, it is all about what it brings and saves!

Q: What will the total investment be? And what is the delivery time?

A: ZRR installations are sometimes customized to the specific plant or operation in question. The final cost depends on what auxiliary systems (e.g. conveyors, feeders) are already installed at the plant. Sometimes hardly anything new is needed. The delivery time for ZenRobotics Recycler is some 4 months from order. Please ask for a ZRR quotation to see all the details!

Q: What are the operating costs?

A: The electricity cost is extremely low, approximately 1 – 2€ per hour! There is also software maintenance fee, but is is charged only for true operating hours. For the hardware maintenance, which is not expensive, ZenRobotics is happy to make you an offer! Note when compared to traditional waste processing machinery, robotic systems suffer minimal wear and tear, not to mention the trouble and cost if humans would sort waste!

Q: Does the system require additional machinery?

A: You might already have everything else that is needed! Ideally the material that is processed by the ZRR should have a size smaller than approx one or 1,5 meter of length. Also material smaller than, say 30 – 80 mm would be good to screen out. The reason is that sand, small pieces of wood and and other small stuff is not feasible to sort with robots and this fraction might disturb recognition of larger objects. So oversize and undersize should be out, so that robots have the 50 mm – 1,5 m sized material to sort. That is a very wide size range of material – the size ratio of the material is thus 1 to 30!

Sometimes it is sufficient if an excavator is preparing the input material, ie. removing only the really large objects. An alternative solution would be to use a rough pre-shredder turning the infeed into 400 – 700 mm in size. If there is a lot of fines fraction, screening by a trommel screen, star screen, disc screen, finger screen, tape slot screen, ballistic screen or some other device might be necessary.

If there is a lot of light fraction, that is paper, plastic film, cardboard, textiles and other light materials, then they should be separated. The reason is that this kind of material might harm the visibility of machine vision – important objects might be hidden under the light material. Here air knives, air classifiers, ballistic screens and many other devices might be of use. The separated light fraction is often used in RDF/SRF production.

In many cases it is easy to find a good location in an existing waste processing plant, where the waste is already sufficiently well prepared. And there are many really good alternatives for preprocessing the waste. The ZenRobotics Sales Team is happy to help you in choosing the best solution!

Q: Can I not do the same work with the excavator as robots are doing? Why do I need robots?

Basically you could, but there are a couple of big buts that will take the excavator out of the equation:

The excavator driver has bad visibility and has hard time to get the quality right – but then comes a major setback: an excavator has a max sorting speed of only some 100 – 150 picks per hour! Just take a stopwatch and go and see how slow an excavator actually is when sorting. Then compare to robots, and be amazed that the max speed is 5000 picks (average 3000) per hour with a two arm system. That means that only one ZRR system picks as fast as 20 – 30 excavators!

As the excavator + driver costs some 70 – 90 euros per hour, you can conclude that one pick costs  0,5 – 1 euro per pick! Many objects the excavators pick are not even worth that and you actually lose money! The compare that to the ZRR and see that the robotic sorting cost is typically only a few cents per pick. So the excavator costs some 20 – 30 times more per pick!

In this sense the ZRR outperforms excavator 20 -1. Excavators are otherwise great tools, but we recommend that they would be sorting only objects that are REALLY oversized or that they sort objects that are heavier than 20 kg.

We do love excavators!

Q: What maintenance is required for the system?

A: The ZRR system is maintained with a typical industrial maintenance program, mostly comprising of regular checks. ZenRobotics also offers its customers the ZenRobotics Care support services which include phone support, on-line diagnostic capability, and a spare parts service.

Q: How would the maintenance and operation issues be addressed given the distance between our two respective countries?

A: This is an important topic. We need to have a look at the components included in the system. The system consists of three main parts:

The robots arms we use are actually standard industrial robots, to which most spare parts are readily available in every country. We can supply a set of spare and wear parts, so that they can simply be replaced when necessary. Any skilled mechanic or electrician can do most of the fixes. However, this is unusual. In the industry the same robots are used for around 8 – 10  years, before they are replaced.

The system furthermore consists of a number of sensors, but those are fixed and non moving devices, like various types of cameras, metal detectors and similar sensors – and of course several high performance industrial computers. All devices in safe and clean enclosures, so you will not even see them. Disturbances are unlikely and parts can usually be shipped almost overnight. We recommend regular check ups by our specialist, to prevent issues on beforehand. The checks could take place two times a year. Basically the system is very reliable.

The core of our delivery is the intelligence of the robots. That is actually software, that is updated regularly over the internet. In case of special situations, we are able to maintain the system over the internet.

ZenRobotics establish a service network in every new country to which a ZRR systems are sold. All in all, there are few equipment in the recycling industry that are as reliable and easy to use as a ZRR. And maintenance is super easy!

Q: What is the average downtime for the robot?

A: We guarantee 95% availability. See further details in the ZenRobotics delivery contract! Industrial robots tend to be extremely reliable. If there is anything is this turbulent world you can rely on, it is gravitation – and industrial robots! To confirm that we mean what we say, you will be surprised when you see what mechanical guarantee you will get! Please ask for a quotation!

Q: In my country the temperature goes quite high/low during the summer/winter, along with the humidity. And it will be dusty. Will this have any effect on the robot?

A: Extreme ambient conditions have been taken in consideration when designing the system. Close to the ZenRobotics headquarters the systems have been operating in real waste sorting facilities, virtually outside and in temperatures ranging from -25 Celsius to +37 Celsius. No problem! We are able to supply systems that include necessary equipment, so that extreme high/low temperatures and humidity or dust will not much affect the system. Naturally robots are much less sensitive than humans!

Q: We need multiple robots – how will they be synchronized to work together?

A: Normally these robots are positioned along a sorting belt. Successive robots are connected and are communicating with each other. If a previous system has not picked an object, the system downstream will know it.

Q: Do you have representation in Wonderland?

A: We have distributors in numerous countries. Check the status of your country with the ZenRobotics Sales Team. If you have any recommendations of a good distributor, we are pleased to hear you recommendation, because we believe you are a specialist in your country. We want super good distributors! Therefore we will send you a bottle of Dom Perignon (not from year 1962 though), once we have signed a distribution contract with the distributor you suggested! Until we have a representative, we can very well communicate directly. And also after that…!

Q: Are similar robots in use somewhere?

A: Yes! They are actually everywhere, but you seldom see them. Around 160 000 new robots are installed in the world every year! There are millions of robots working in the world. In most process industries robots are widely used and the industries would simply not survive without them. In fact, it is mainly thanks to the advances in robotics we can nowadays enjoy high quality and still cheap products. What would a Volkswagen Golf cost if it would be hand made?

As the robots revolutionized the manufacturing industries a few decades ago, reducing the production cost, the ZenRobotics Recycler will revolutionize the recycling industry. It is happening as we speak. Recycling has never been this easy, fun and profitable!

 Q: Is it possible to get spreadsheets, feasibility and capacity calculations for ZRR?

A: Certainly, the ZenRobotics Sales team is pleased to offer a great range of supporting documentation for anyone interested. We are able to prove our point. Contact [email protected] for further information.

Q: Are there any problems sorting e.g. waste with dirt, contaminated earth or biodegrades?

A: No, the ZRR system makes use of efficient pre-processing for an optimised waste stream, removing e.g. light waste fractions and two-dimensional objects such as films and cardboard. Also the fine fraction e.g. sand, dust and small size material is usually screened out before robotic sorting. The ZRR technology itself is certainly capable of handling most types of solid waste streams!

Q: Is it necessary to have personnel operating the ZRR?

A: The system is essentially and by definition autonomous, and does thus requires very little interaction by humans. There is also a wide array of safety systems, so you do not need to worry, but can leave the ZRR working alone.

The core is the software that autonomously recognizes the wanted objects and then picks them from the waste stream. The control system is based on advanced artificial intelligence. That is software that is able to make decisions on its own – and that is able to learn. We also update the software continuously.

Q: How will the robots impact the recycling industry?

A: The Artificial Intelligence controlled robots are possibly the most advanced form of waste sorting. Most professionals in the waste industry seem to be fully convinced that robots are the greatest breakthrough in the industry in decades and that the robots will earn huge amounts of money and fame to the waste management companies that at early stage are taking advantage of them. As the second man on moon, Buzz Aldrin, said about technology “The only way is forward!”. His colleague Buzz Lightyear put it even better: “To the Future and Beyond!”

Q: Is ZenRobotics Recycler available for piloting and testing?

A: Not at the moment, you must order one and make a down payment, since we are selling the ZRRs like hot dogs. In the future a piloting option is likely to be offered, however. But do not wait for that. Please contact the ZenRobotics sales guys right now!

Q: Where can I get more information on the ZenRobotics Recycler?

A: The most up-to-date source for all information regarding ZenRobotics Recycler and ZenRobotics Ltd. is the company Web site www.zenrobotics.com . For further information, you may choose to browse the ZenRobotics international distributors, e-mail the ZenRobotics international sales team at [email protected] or call the ZRR Sales Hotline +358 50 4363 803. We are also happy to visit you!

Q: I am convinced. But where and when can I see the ZenRobotics Recycler in operation?

A: The first ZenRobotics Recycler systems have been operational and field tested since February 2011 by one of the largest waste management companies in Europe. Fill in the ZRR site visit form to schedule a visit to see it all with your own eyes!