Tomra Recycling Sorting opens new testing facility in Germany

From left: Volker Rehrmann, executive vice-president and head of Tomra Recycling; Fabrizio Radice, vice-president and head of global sales and marketing; Tove Andersen, CEO of Tomra Recycling; Tom Eng, senior vice-president and head of Tomra Recycling Sorting; and André Lehmann, test centre manager

Tomra Recycling Sorting has opened a second test facility at its headquarters in Germany to meet growing demand for material trials. The company now operates one test centre each for waste and metal sorting applications at the same location.

“With more stringent legislation and higher recycling targets, the demand to recover recyclables from waste is at a record high and so is the demand for our sorting solutions and material tests,” said Fabrizio Radice, vice-president and head of global sales and marketing at Tomra Recycling Sorting.

“We have observed this situation over the last few years and came close to our test capacity limits in Germany. We had to act to ensure the best service for customers and partners.”

Previously, Tomra’s test centre incorporated both its waste and metal sorting solutions and is one of eight facilities operated at seven locations worldwide that give recyclers and plant operators the unique opportunity to test their materials on Tomra’s advanced sorting machines before making an investment.

“Apart from the increasing demand for tests, we are continuously developing new sorting systems that are all installed in our test centre. In the last few years, we have introduced multiple new products into the market and will roll out more in the future. Thus, we needed to make sure that we have sufficient space for our growing portfolio and decided to invest in an additional building,” added Radice.

Tomra will hence use the extra space for the development of innovations that can be tested and optimised by specialised teams on-site. The company conducts approximately 650 customer and internal trials each year and anticipates the demand to grow in the future.

While the new facility allows the company to place a stronger emphasis on the metals segment, waste applications continue to play an equally important role. The original test centre started as a mobile test station in Andernach, Germany, moved to Mülheim-Kärlich in 2009, and steadily grew in sophistication.

Today, it offers 1,500m2 for waste sorting trials. The test possibilities range from the recovery of recyclable polymers from mixed and source-separated waste streams, to flake sorting, the separation of wood by material type, and many more.

Also, deep learning technologies, as a subset of artificial intelligence (AI), are part of Tomra’s product portfolio and can be tested in different sorting tasks. Available as a complementary solution to its core technologies, deep learning is a future-forward tool that helps improve sorting performance by detecting previously hard or impossible-to-detect materials.

Summarising the advantages of the new test centre setup, Ralph Uepping, vice-president and head of technology at Tomra Recycling Sorting stressed: “All our products are installed and can be tested in a complete circuit. Together with our expert teams, we can simulate the entire sorting process with eddy currents, magnets, screens and a ballistic separator.

“This allows us to demonstrate the importance of material pre-treatment and define processes that are stable and economically viable even with changing input streams.”

From 28 Feb-2 Mar, Tomra welcomed industry partners, customers and media representatives to celebrate the opening.