AMP Robotics Corp., which is applying artificial intelligence and robotics to recycling, last week announced that it would offer its recycling robots through a leasing program to make them more accessible during the novel coronavirus crisis. The AMP Cortex system automates the identification and sorting of recyclables from mixed material streams.
“The challenging operating environment for recycling businesses brought on by COVID-19 has sharpened focus on key issues like worker safety, productivity, bale purity, labor shortages, and lowering the overall cost of recycling — all existing pain points for the industry that the pandemic has elevated,” stated Matanya Horowitz, founder and CEO of Denver-based AMP Robotics. “Operators are weighing automation, not only for its immediate and direct financial return, but also its ability to enable recycling businesses to be resilient in the face of these challenges.”
“Our new financing option, the AMP Cortex Lease, makes our technology more accessible than ever to the industry at this critical time, when the pandemic has made recycling that much more important to our domestic supply chain,” he added.
AMP addresses economic challenges with recycling robots
Recycling robots have become even more essential as the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted global supply chains and put pressure on the availability of domestic raw materials, said AMP. With shelter-in-place measures, residential volumes of recyclables have skyrocketed, as consumers quickly changed their purchasing habits.
High volumes of plastic, paper, cardboard, and metals are hitting material streams, while demand for paper and cardboard has spiked to meet the increasing need for shipping packaging and other fiber-based products. Most of the materials used to make boxes come from recyclers in the form of recovered mixed paper and old corrugated cardboard (OCC).
“Robotics helps overcome workplace safety issues presented by the coronavirus, creating natural barriers between employees to ensure social distancing,” said Chris Wirth, vice president of marketing at AMP. “Our automation also enables facilities to operate with smaller groups of people, helping them maintain full operations with limited staffing.”
AMP said its Cortex technology recovers plastics, cardboard, paper, metals, cartons, cups, and many other recyclables that are reclaimed for raw material processing. AMP’s AI platform visually identifies different types of materials with high accuracy, then guides recycling robots to pick out and recover materials at superhuman speeds for extended periods of time.
In addition to its environmental role in combating waste and unnecessary landfilling, recycling also provides critical feedstock for the manufacturing supply chain.
The AMP Neuron AI platform continuously trains itself by recognizing different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, patterns, and even brand labels to identify materials and their recyclability. Neuron then guides robots to pick and place the material to be recycled. Designed to run 24/7, all of this happens at high speed and accuracy, said the company.
With deployments across the U.S., Canada, Japan, and now expanding into Europe, AMP’s recycling robots handle municipal waste, e-waste, and construction and demolition debris.
Lease program designed to help businesses
The AMP Cortex Lease program offers interest-free financing without an upfront payment, enabling waste management and recycling businesses to get the benefits of sorting automation without the capital expense. Monthly payments are fixed and can total less than $6,000 a month, freeing up cash that companies can reinvest in other parts of their business.
These financial benefits also help municipalities maintain the public service of recycling during challenging economic times and budget shortfalls, said the company. The AMP Cortex Lease program also includes warranty, maintenance, and service packages, alleviating concerns about the perceived risk of emerging technologies like AI and robotics.
“Recycling businesses continue to be squeezed by fixed costs and volatile commodity pricing, but with the AMP Cortex Lease, they can reduce variable operating costs for sorting by upwards of 70%,” said Wirth. “On top of that, material recovery facilities can boost productivity and flex capacity to quickly capture high-value, in-demand commodities like paper and OCC, increasing both their top and bottom lines.”
Last June, AMP Robotics announced its largest deployment to date in Florida, and Sequoia Capital led a $16 million round of financing in November 2019. The company has been scaling its business to meet demand. It recently announced a 50% increase in revenue in the first quarter of 2020, a rapidly growing project pipeline, and last month’s recycling robots milestone of 1 billion recyclables processed over the past 12 months.