Industry 4.0 is making inroads into the waste industry. The goal is intelligently networked machines and systems that boost waste recycling efficiency. The ReWaste4.0 research project is looking ahead, and experimenting on processes that will be standard in the future.

Press Release, February 13, 2019

Once the driverless waste collection vehicle has unloaded its contents into the intake hopper, sensors evaluate the quality of the waste. The main computer reports “high caloric commercial waste” to the preshredder. Before the first waste reaches the shredding chamber of the Terminator, it automatically adjusts the cutting gap and drum speed for the best results. The downstream screening and separating machines also know what to expect. Depending on what the waste consists of, the screens, sifters, metal removers and IR-based sorting machines and robots switch themselves on or off. Later, during the system’s automatic maintenance cycle, the numbers are tallied up. The secondary raw materials it generates ensure the economical operation of the plant, while the resources and CO2 savings help all of us.



The ReWaste 4.0 Competence Centre of the University of Leoben in Austria is working with well-known companies in the waste industry to make the “waste plant of the future” outlined above become reality soon. It is an extensive project. Issues range from the potential value of the waste to the right choice of processing technologies to the consumer value of recycled materials.



“We’re responsible for some of the key components of the processing chain, and are currently in the middle of the data collection phase,” explains Christoph Feyerer, Head of Product Management at Komptech. “The point is to intelligently configure the system for the input material. The optimum process parameters are automatically set for the targeted secondary raw materials.” Only extensive testing can determine how the machine parameters affect the material quality and what material data can be used for process control purposes. “We just concluded a multi-week test series on shredding commercial and household waste, which gave us the requisite data material,” reports Christoph Feyerer. This involved shredding several hundred tonnes of waste with the Terminator at defined settings, followed by screening and sifting. “This not always odourless data lets us proceed to simulations. From there the next project step is a real processing line.” That’s sure to be interesting. “This makes the project an ideal fit with our digitalization roadmap,” says Heinz Leitner, Komptech CEO, “because the Internet of Things and Smart Machines are coming – there is no way around it. And we want to be well prepared.”