Enterprise Europe Network

German enterprise seeks recycling enterprise as partner for co-development of digital twin based automated disassembly and sorting

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Partner keyword: 
Automation, Robotics Control Systems
Process automation
Materials Handling Technology (solids, fluids, gases)
Recycling, Recovery
Computer-aided instructions
Numeric and computerised control of machine tools
Chemical and solid material recycling
Other pollution and recycling related
Water, sewerage, chemical and solid waste treatment plants


A German company and a research organization aim to develop an automatized pre-shredder recycling process for the automotive or machinery industry in order to secure nearly 100% closed loop recycling in particular with respect to rare and valuable materials. The process requires data driven automatized dismantling and sorting machinery. The consortium looks for a research co-operation with an industrial partner interested in implementing the pre-shredder pilot process as prove of feasibility.



A German engineering company is the worlds’ leading development partner for computed aided engineering (CAE). Based in Germany and internationally represented in Austria, India, Japan and the UK, they assist customers in the business’ fields transport, energy, healthcare, industry and technology.

With respect to resource efficiency, closed loop recycling management plays already today a major role. This is in particular true for highly complex technical devices, e.g. modern cars, electronical devices, machinery, domestic appliances e.g. Where data driven automatization guides development and production of goods, the recycling is still based on manual disassembling and more or less manual distribution of the parts with respect to their material classification. Classification of raw material would require additional effort in the pre-recycling process. Hence, recycling in Europe is often not cost efficient and the “waste” is shifted from Europe to low cost countries, where recycling takes place under inhumane and ecological disastrous conditions. Further, often there is no recycling of many materials like glass and plastics, and valuable rare materials are lost.

Closed loop recycling should be done with the high technical standards as usual in production. Recycling has to be reconsidered as a manner of production. In order to be cost efficient, automatization has to be introduced in all areas of disassembling, distribution of parts and material classification. Automatization needs data. This project is to provide the digital twin for the recycling economy as a base for automatized production of the recycling fraction.
The project does not aim to replace the shredder based recycling process. It will provide the base for a pre-process of automatized dismantling and sorting of goods, in order to achieve a nearly 100% yield rate of valuable materials, in particular also rare earth metals.

As usual in production, also in recycling automatization will be a key driver towards cost efficiency and quality. The introduction of an automatized pre-shredder process will change the cost benefit ratio of recycling and will establish recycling near the production site (e.g. in Europe). It will secure raw material supply to the production, it provides independence from dominant material providers with rising prices. Further, this new technical application will generate a machine tool industry manufacturing automatized dismantling and sorting machinery. Further, there is a global need for closed loop recycling.

The desired cooperation type is a research cooperation agreement or a consortia agreement in a frame of a wider European project.

The company is looking for recycling companies, which are willing to implement the pre-shredder pilot process as a field trial in order to prove the concept. The field trial should prove the feasibility to implement the process in the current operation without significant trade-offs. The economic and ecological benefit could be assessed.

Closed loop recycling is a key issue to preserve our health and living standards in the light of ecology, climate change and significant global economic and social challenges. Hence, there are several specific calls from the European Commission targeting this issue, also envisaged within the following framework programme FP9 Horizon Europe, apart from general funding instruments like ‘fast track to innovation’.

Advantages & innovations

Cooperation plus value: 
Automatized disassembling and distribution of the parts as a cost efficient pre-process to the shredder based recycling will increase the cost benefit ratio of the recycling process and will enable a nearly 100% yield of the recyclable fraction. This applies in particular to rare and valuable material, which otherwise will be lost in the amount of steel, aluminum and other metal sheets. Further, other fractions like glass and plastics will also be sorted in advance in higher purity. The overall functionality of the automatized pre-process is a key topic for cost efficiency. In this pre-process, the individual digital twins serve as a control map and guide the automatized dismantling machinery to perform the disassembly of each individual item (e.g. car type). One key factor in the process to generate digital twins for the recycling economy is the in-house developed and registered process to derivate CAE models based on optical scans taken from technical devices. Whereas digital twins for the production are highly classified and very detailed and complex, they will never leave the production plant and will never be accessible to the public or the recycling industry. On the other hand, the requirements for the digital twins for the recycling industry should not be so complex. In the field of production and development, Digital Twins exist, the company’s method is protected and exists on the market, data driven automatized machine tools exist and standards for interfaces for data driven control exist. However, the application of the technology in the recycling industry is complete new, and the boundary conditions are different. Hence, the partner company will face a manageable amount of risk, but a huge opportunity to open a great market, last but not least the yield of rare material will increase current revenue.

Stage of development

Cooperation stage dev stage: 
Concept stage

Partner sought

Cooperation area: 
Type of partner sought: industry Specific area of activity of the partner: recycling, in particular automotive recycling Tasks to be performed by the partner sought: implementation of the pre-shredder pilot process as a field trial, prove of concept, prove of feasibility, provide the base for an assessment of ecological and economic benefit.

Type and size

Cooperation task: 
SME 11-50,SME <10,>500 MNE,251-500,SME 51-250,>500