- Bulk Handling Systems (BHS) has announced the successful installation of its new Max-AI Autonomous Quality Control unit at Athens Services' material recovery facility in Los Angeles.
- The autonomous unit is used after the optical sorting process to scan and grab multiple material categories faster than humans. Examples of materials it can detect include thermoform trays, aluminum, fiber and other residue in a PET bottle stream.
- As described by BHS executives in a press release, Max-AI will eventually become "an intelligent central nervous system" and "the active brain of our MRFs" when it is fully integrated into facilities with BHS technology and NRT optical sorters.
This is a big announcement from BHS, the designer behind many of the leading MRFs in the country. Once the AI system is fully integrated into all of the equipment in a MRF, the company believes it can increase efficiency, purity and profits. Because of its modern system that can process up to 1,500 tons of material per day, the Athens facility was seen as a good location to start.
Athens is also one of the companies that has been awarded multiple franchise zones in Los Angeles, ensuring that it will have a large and steady supply of single-stream material to work with for years to come. Because the city expects to see high waste reduction rates, with penalties for companies that fail to perform, it will be even more important for Athens to maximize the effectiveness of its sorting operation.
MRF technology has continued to adapt to the single-stream trend with new features such as bag rippers and glass-sorting units, but this BHS announcement is a sign that significant advances in the field may be coming sooner than expected. Last month, the Carton Council of North America and AMP Robotics also announced the successful installation of their own AI unit at a MRF in Denver. As more cities look at increasing their diversion rates through single-stream collection these systems could be an attractive option, though they will also have to be weighed against the goals of local job creation included in many of those same plans.