A traditional family-owned company proves that data-driven sorting increases throughput, improves product quality, and boosts profitability.
As a fourth-generation company that values reliability and continual development through technology, The Melosch Company recognizes the enormous potential of the Tomra Insight data platform. With the capability to revolutionize the waste management and recycling industry, Tomra Insight collects data from automated sorting units to provide a fully transparent performance overview. Moreover, the statistical analysis can be used to instantly optimize machine settings and make data-informed decisions that positively impact the business long term.
Where tradition meets innovation
The Melosch Company is an operator-owned family business in northern Germany whose origins go back to 1907. With core expertise in paper recycling for over 100 years, the company offers tailored disposal solutions and modern processing facilities to prepare secondary raw materials optimally. Municipal waste paper sorting remains a strong pillar of their business today and operates in 11 production plants with 5 paper sorting systems, employing approximately 350 people and processing more than 150.000 metric tons of high purity recyclable paper annually. This throughput requires about 250.000 metric tons of mixed waste paper from municipalities.
Vadim Sander, Branch Manager at the Melosch Company’s Ahrensburg plant, explains: “The quality of our raw materials can vary based on the location, but the quality of what is sold to the processors has to be consistently high. To meet our customers’ quality requirements, we decided to embrace digitalization and continue being at the forefront of our industry.”
Sander’s task was to find an economically feasible automated sorting solution, especially in a market with high demand and labor shortages. He observes: “As the packaging and paper industry steadily transitions to a circular economy, our customers’ quality expectations have gotten a lot higher. Quality used to mean adding manual sorters to remove impurities and distinguish between paper types. Now it’s about delivering nearly perfect quality in a fraction of the time. With the labor environment not being in our favor, it only seemed logical to upgrade our lines with the newest generation Autosort with Tomra Insight to uncover new opportunities for optimization. The fully automated, connected sorting units maximize throughput and stabilize our workforce. Our customers are satisfied too because the Tomra sorting units deliver consistently pure yields.”
Unlocks big gains
Tomra Insight gathers near real-time data and safely stores it in the cloud so it can be accessed remotely via web-based desktops and mobile devices. Since the platform continuously measures the quality of the material stream in the sorting line, operators have the power of data to optimize settings to respond to material composition changes. And because Tomra Insight provides deep-dive data that wasn’t previously available, managers can now make operational and business decisions based on clear-cut and detailed information.
The value of always having sorting line data on hand offers huge potential. Downtime can be reduced by monitoring machine health, supporting predictive and condition-based maintenance management, thus preventing unscheduled machine shutdowns. Monitoring variations in throughput can improve efficiencies through Tomra Insight data as well. In the case of The Melosch Company, older infrastructure and other restrictions meant paper was fed onto the sorting line at a 90° angle, resulting in poor material distribution across the accelerator belt. Through its advanced data-driven graphics, Tomra Insight detected an unknown opportunity, and the company installed a metal sheet to alter the feed angle and evenly spread the input material. Depending on the material stream, data optimization processes can potentially increase throughputs by an entire ton per hour without compromising quality.
The data platform can also reduce operational costs by minimizing loss and providing optimal quality. After installing two new generation Autosort machines with Tomra Insight, The Melosch Company now has fewer reclamations of material, proving the sorting data offers a competitive advantage in salable secondary raw materials.
Bottom-line results driven by data
The Melosch Company’s Ahrensburg plant operates with two new generation Autosort machines which are connected to Tomra Insight and have been installed in 2020 and 2021. Due to the positive results achieved through the software, the Erfurt plant will soon connect its two Autosort units from the previous generation to Tomra Insight as well. At the Pinneberg facility, a new Autosort has complemented another existing Autosort machine. Sander says: “We are always searching for potential to improve. With the data, we have a new source of information, and it’s easier to track trends. Simply having transparency in the palm of your hand with the mobile app – it’s needed to fulfil the pressure to optimize.”
The Ahrensburg plant has already seen two significant benefits in the first few months of using Tomra Insight – increased throughput and nearing 97 per cent purity in deinking without manual labor. Sander explains: “The constant increase of requirements to meet occupational safety combined with labor shortages in the waste sector puts us under pressure to reduce hand pickers from our line. We needed an intelligent solution to improve our processes and profitability.”
In addition to performance and composition charts, Tomra Insight also allows users to create reports specific to batches rather than a particular timeframe. A planned automated reporting feature will soon be released to make data access and analysis even more effortless. Users will define reporting requirements and frequency, including the email distribution list for automatic reporting.
What The Melosch Company likes most about Tomra Insight is the way it makes it possible to have near real-time data from anywhere. Sander says: “It’s fantastic to see so much data about the performance of our machines and quality rates whenever we want. Now we always know what is happening at our plants: we use the mobile app to compare the exact data to our subjective valuation of the material before it is sorted. The information shows whether we should make adjustments on the line, and the data tells us whether those adjustments are working. It takes the guesswork out of yield management.”
“I expected Tomra Insight to be useful, but we were not sure just how much. It includes reporting features we hadn’t considered before, which have positively impacted our bottom line. Also, the open communication with Tomra is extremely valuable – they ask about our needs or features we’d like to see in the future. Recent updates have included batch reporting; charts giving defect composition in percentages; conversions from imperial to metric weight unit; and usability improvements that help us get even more out of our data. With more updates in the pipeline, we’re certain Tomra Insight enables us to improve our recovery rates, our product quality, and our profitability.”
Source: Tomra Recycling