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Established in 1980, WasteCare is a waste management company that recycles over 60,000 tonnes of waste material each year for over 20,000 organisations across the UK.

With over 400 staff, WasteCare processes a wide range of waste, recycling over 1,000 different waste streams from commercial and industrial sectors.

WasteCare has enjoyed fantastic growth as a result of putting clients at the centre of the operation, combined with continuous investment in innovative technology.

One product that WasteCare processes is batteries which contain many harmful chemicals and materials that are unsuitable for recycling. However, batteries also contain valuable components (such as zinc, copper, cadmium, manganese and magnesium) that can be recycled and re-used. As a result, separation plants have been developed to process and segregate the valuable materials found in all kinds of batteries.

The Challenge

WasteCare got in touch with Bensons as they needed to develop a system incorporating an extensive control network with various sensors, actuators and alarms for the safe and effective processing of batteries. 

They also required a bespoke multi-architecture software program to collate and analyse data from the control mechanisms, plus full control of a battery waste process line. Bensons developed the waste process line control software, and introduced WasteCare to Cougar Automation to develop the data analysis software package. 

The battery separation process uses a range of mechanical and physical separation techniques to isolate individual materials. These methods include magnetism, centripetal force, vibration and mesh screens. Due to the intricacy of these processing lines, unique control mechanisms are required to ensure they operate consistently and safely. 

Interconnected alarm systems are essential to record errors throughout the process and implement control measures to reduce their impact. For example, if a machine jams, the feed must stop to prevent further damage.

Data tracking is also a key part of the process, highlighting inefficiencies and subtle errors within the process. 

The software developed by Bensons responds to inputs from the various sensors and alarms throughout the separation process to govern and regulate the operation of the waste processing line. To achieve the exacting level of control required, every sensor, actuator and alarm must be linked, creating an extremely complex network. 

During the briefing stage, Bensons received a hand-drawn sketch showing batteries entering a process line with the various products such zinc, copper, cadmium, manganese and magnesium delivered at the other end. It was Bensons’ responsibility to design the software programme and manufacture the control panel to operate the system.

The Solution

Bensons’ development team began by analysing the battery separation process. The team conducted research into each machine to determine which control measures were required. After analysis, all essential data was gathered and the project advanced to its next phase.

Before implementing the hardware throughout the battery separation line, Bensons developed the overarching software program which would provide the foundation for the entire network.

WasteCare needed to know what would happen to the line if unexpected scenarios occurred. To facilitate this, Bensons developed and executed a full simulation of the process line to allow any weak points to be identified and addressed prior to delivery to site.

To enable the efficient operation of the process, Bensons developed a recipe system for different battery types, using the weight of the batteries to ensure that the system was fed at an optimum rate with minimal intervention by the operator.

The Result

With Bensons’ solution in operation, WasteCare is now using the motor control centre and software system, to safely and efficiently operate the battery separation process line.

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