The cost of transporting plastic bottles to a recycling plant can exceed the value of the plastic. If the bottles are shredded, they can be packed into bales and many more bottles can then be carried at the same time.
This makes significant problems for the waste processing and recycling plant. Mixed together in the material is clear plastic and plastic of different colours. A further problem is contamination - plastic bottles that have been used to store chemicals can contaminate the whole batch.
Our customer had developed a machine that shook the plastic flakes into channels of a production line, where each one could have a light shone through it and a sensor could detect the colour. Then sniffer sensors are used to detect contamination. Further through the machine, air jets were used to sort the colours and reject the contaminated pieces.
What they needed from us, was a Processor board that could receive the signals from the sensors and trigger the air jets. This processor board needed to fit into a 3U industrial equipment rack that had the I/O signals on the backplane connector.
We designed this circuit board for them, giving them a design that could easily be loaded with different versions of their software, and had some spare capacity available for possible future upgrades of their machines.