Force Makes the Circular Economy Go Around

What is a circular economy? Manufacturers and innovators are taking new approaches to reduce resource consumption and address environmental challenges. The circular economy is a model in which resources are recycled from waste into products. These resources are redesigned, reused, and remanufactured. This economic model aims to minimize waste, continuing to create a sustainable environment.

Interface’s force sensor products are used in different facilities and resource manufacturing processes within the circular economy. Our load cells and instrumentation measure and monitor forces, loads, and weight within the tools, robotics, and machinery used to optimize resources. Our sensors are also commonly used to test new products for material strength, fatigue lifecycle, quality, and function.

Interface high-accuracy test and measurement solutions are critical as organizations, and the general public become more focused on sustainability and developing innovations that improve our environmental footprint. These sensors allow companies to create better, safer, and higher-quality products that support recycling, limit the resources used, and find new ways to reuse products and materials.

Circular Economy Applications Using Interface Force Sensors

Waste Sorting and Recycling: Load cells are employed in waste sorting facilities and recycling centers to measure and monitor the weight of materials. This data helps optimize sorting processes, ensuring that recyclable materials are separated efficiently from non-recyclable waste. By accurately measuring the weight of recyclables, load cells assist in the recycling process, promoting resource recovery.

Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs): Load cells are utilized in MRFs to track the flow of materials through the recycling process. They measure the weight of materials at different stages, such as when they are dumped onto conveyor belts or compacted into bales for transport. This information is crucial for monitoring recycling rates and improving the overall efficiency of recycling operations.

Product Lifecycle Analysis: Load cells can track the weight of products and materials at various stages. This data is valuable for conducting product lifecycle assessments (LCA) to understand the environmental impact of products and identify opportunities for reusing or recycling components, thereby reducing waste and conserving resources.

Resource Optimization in Manufacturing: In manufacturing processes, load cells are used to ensure precise material usage and to control the number of raw materials used in production. This minimizes waste, helps maintain product quality, and reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing. READ: Force Measurement is Reducing Waste and Automating the Consumer Packaging Industry

Waste-to-Energy and Biogas Production: Load cells are used in waste-to-energy facilities and biogas plants to measure the weight of waste materials and organic feedstocks. This data assists in optimizing energy production while diverting waste from landfills.

Food Waste Reduction: Load cells are employed in commercial kitchens, restaurants, and production facilities to measure food waste. This information can be used to track and reduce food waste, promoting more sustainable food management practices.

Closed-Loop Supply Chains: In closed-loop supply chains, where products are designed for reuse or remanufacturing, load cells can play a role in measuring the condition and wear of components, helping determine when maintenance, refurbishment, or remanufacturing is necessary, extending the product’s life.

Optimizing Waste Sorting with Interface Load Cells

Inefficient sorting of recyclables in Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) leads to contamination of recycled materials. This reduces the quality of the recycled product and increases costs for reprocessors. Integrate Interface miniature s-type load cells into conveyor belts at MRFs. These sensors can weigh materials in real time as they move along the conveyor.  The SSMF Fatigue Rated S-Type Load Cell measures and monitors the weight of the materials. The WTS-AM-1E Wireless Strain Bridge Transmitter Module captures and transmits the results to the customer’s computer using the WTS-BS-6 Wireless Telemetry Dongle Base Station.

The weight data is used to identify and separate materials. By setting weight thresholds, the system can trigger sorting mechanisms to divert different materials (e.g., plastics, metals, glass) into designated bins, improving the purity of the recycled streams. Real-time weight data allows for adjustments to conveyor speed and sorting mechanisms to handle surges in material flow or variations in material density. This reduces downtime and improves overall sorting efficiency. By recovering more high-quality recyclables, MRFs can divert waste from landfills, potentially reducing tipping fees.

Precise Disassembly for Remanufacturing with Interface Load Cells

Traditional methods can damage components during product disassembly for remanufacturing, reducing their reusability. This necessitates using clean materials for replacements, hindering the circular economy loop. The sensors can precisely measure the forces applied during disassembly by implementing Interface load cells into robotic disassembly lines.

Force data is used to control robotic disassembly actions. By monitoring the force applied, robots can carefully disassemble products without damaging components, allowing more parts to be reused in remanufactured products. For example, ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells can be used in the grips of the robotic arm to measure the amount of pressure being applied to the object it is lifting and moving. The DMA2 DIN Rail Mount Signal Conditioner converts the signal received from the ConvexBT Load Button Load Cells from mV/V to volts to the PLC Controller, which tells the robotic arm to stop clamping pressure when a specified amount of pressure is applied to the object.

Force data analysis can help identify areas for improvement in the disassembly process, such as adjusting robot gripper pressure or tool design. This reduces the risk of component damage and improves disassembly efficiency. By facilitating the recovery and reuse of components, Interface load cells help extend the lifespan of products and reduce reliance on clean materials.

These are just two examples of how Interface load cells can be utilized in the circular economy. By improving sorting efficiency, optimizing disassembly processes, and reducing reliance on clean materials, Interface load cells play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable future.

Interface’s load cells assist in precisely measuring forces and loads during product disassembly, refurbishment, and remanufacturing. Integrating force sensors into ways to help reduce resource consumption helps create and promote a more sustainable environment.


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