How to Take Your Optical Sorter to Peak Performance

Alex Wolfby Alex Wolf

My name is Alex Wolf and I am the Technical Director at Van Dyk Recycling Solutions. We supply TOMRA optical sorters to the North American recycling industry. TOMRA is the world leader in sensor-based sorting in recycling, food, and mining industries. Anything that can be recycled, TOMRA is working on solutions to sort it. I would love the chance to discuss how TOMRA optical sorters can improve your ROI, as they have several points of difference that set them apart from our competitors. That being said, I think there are a few things that my competitors and I can all agree are key to maximizing the effectiveness of your optical sorting equipment, regardless of the brand. Let me explain the important roles that material preparation, mechanical separation at the ejection, and a little daily maintenance and upkeep play in the success of your optical sorter.

First and foremost, your system needs to prepare the material properly.

Make sure that your system design prior to the optical is correct and all the necessary equipment has been added to help insure that the material being fed to the optical has been properly prepared. Getting the material to a single layer spread across the full width of the belt is essential to your success (try to avoid 90 degree turns onto an optical sorter’s acceleration conveyor). To achieve this, all materials must be liberated and all fines should be removed.

Make sure the mechanical separation device or splitter housing is positioned correctly.

You must determine the optimal height and forward position of the splitter bar. An optical sorter could be recognizing and shooting material at a very high percentage of accuracy, but if the splitter housing or separation device is not properly sized or positioned the items could be landing in the wrong place.

Keep up with daily maintenance.

Optical sorter maintenance is just as important as gassing up your car or changing your oil. Make sure the optical has working lamps and the scanner lenses are cleaned daily. Malfunctioning lamps and dirty lenses on an optical sorter would be like a human sorter trying to recognize material while wearing a blindfold. Make sure all valves are functioning properly and the compressor is producing the required air flow and pressure to the optical. Faulty valves and inadequate airflow would be like a human sorter seeing the material perfectly, but having one hand tied behind their back, and not having the energy to lift their free hand. A little TLC goes a long way to a more productive optical sorter.

The crew at Van Dyk Recycling Solutions can help you determine the proper presort equipment for your plant and advise you on mechanical positioning and maintenance procedure. The ace up our sleeve is the TOMRA AUTOSORT 4, which has faster valves, improved resolution for more precise targeting, and enclosed lights that elude dust and grime. It ensures less maintenance, minimal downtime, and purity of output.