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NRT Presents AI Incorporated Color-Based Optical Sorter

By Construction Tech Review | Friday, July 24, 2020

NRT Presents AI Incorporated Color-Based Optical Sorter

The NRT ColorPlus, along with Max-AI, combines high-resolution color and AI technologies.

FREMONT, CA: National Recovery Technologies (NRT), a Nashville, Tennessee-based company and a Bulk Handling Systems (BHS), Eugene, Oregon, has released the ColorPlus with Max-AI. The ColorPlus with Max-AI incorporates artificial intelligence (AI) with the ColorPlus sorter of NRT. According to a news release, the added layer of AI creates new sorting capabilities. It combines the ColorPlus sorter’s high-volume and high-confidence capabilities with the Max-AI’s person-like identification decisions.

The ColorPlus sorter employs a high-resolution RGB color line-scan sensor to identify and sort recyclables by color. Max-AI technology uses a camera and deep-learning-based AI to pinpoint recyclables similar to humans. According to NRT, Max-AI technology, introduced by BHS in 2017, is already working in more than 100 installations. While most of these installations utilize the technology in collaboration with robotic sorters, the Max-AI VIS (Visual Identification System) is also installed as a piece of stand-alone equipment. It has already been incorporated into the NRT SpydIR with Max-AI.

“From the beginning, we realized Max was a game-changer, not just for robotic sorters but really for the industry on a systemwide level,” said Steve Miller, CEO of BHS. “This is another step forward as we continue to integrate Max into more of our equipment and intelligent system controls.”

Miller adds that NRT optical sorters are very good at identifying materials at a very high level of confidence by color or material composition. Still, there are times when the sorters need the kind of characterization that a human can make. He says integrating Max-AI with the ColorPlus helps to deal with that issue.

“Cardboard isn’t always brown, and a clear PET (polyethylene terephthalate) container isn’t always desired in the end product,” he adds. “The ColorPlus with Max-AI is going to solve a lot of sorting challenges for our customers and we are thrilled to introduce it to them.”

The first ColorPlus, along with Max-AI, has been installed in a European paper recycling facility to purify the fiber stream by extracting the nonpaper fiber. In this case, Max-AI technology identifies materials by type such as pizza box, cereal box, old corrugated containers, craft board, book, and so on. NRT says the ColorPlus technology is used to detect brown fiber aggressively. According to NRT, the combination of proven color detection and the added layer of AI ensures the extraction of nonpaper fiber. The technology also has the flexibility to change what material types are targeted.

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