BLOG: Leading the way with fully-automated flat screen recycling technology

   Tue, 29th Sep, 2020

In our September blog post, General Manager and Company Director of KMK Metals Recycling, Max Kyck, talks about our top-of-the-range robotic LCD recycling system and reveals plans for the future.

At KMK Metals Recycling we constantly strive to be at the very top of our game, using the most cutting-edge technology, which is why we are proud to be the only recycling company in Ireland and one of very few in Europe, to use fully-automated flat screen recycling technology.

At our plant in Kilbeggan we use robotic technology to process liquid crystal display (LCD) panels in the safest and most efficient way possible. The Votechnik ALR 3000 is a fully automated, high through-put technology designed to meet the WEEE Directive recycling rates. The ALR 3000 can process a high-frequency volume of LCDs and safely separate the liquid crystal glass panel and the mercury from the LCD display.

The recycling of LCDs is a particular problem for most electronics recyclers as, according to legislation, most mercury and liquid crystals containing component must be removed from LCDs before the traditional treatment of shredding.  The problem is that LCDs and fluorescent tubes in flat-screen devices contain chemicals that could leach into the environment if the discarded TVs are not properly treated. Manual disassembly and removal of mercury- containing fluorescent tubes is labourious, time-consuming process and inefficient.  

We were fortunate to connect with Limerick University graduate, Lisa O’Donoughue who had completed her doctorate in high-temperature technology for aero gas-turbine engines when she recognised the need for a recycling solution for liquid crystal displays or LCDs. Lisa and her spin-off company Votechnik, had successfully submitted a research proposal to the Environmental Protection Agency, and led a multidisciplinary team in the university, which included automation engineers and process engineers, to investigate an automated process for recycling LCDs.

The ALR 3000 was the cumulation of a 10-year journey from concept to completion. The machine began a testing phase early in 2018 and is now working away in our warehouse in Kilbeggan. When compared with the manual process of up to six per hour, the ALR 3000 is radically faster. It is clean, fast and efficient and requires minimal input from our operatives.

The ALR 3000 delivers critical infrastructure to enable a truly circular economy for LCD screens, allowing valuable raw material recovery. It uses state of the art robotics in the most advanced, safe and efficient way, putting KMK Metals Recycling at the forefront of flat screen recycling technology.

And the good news….we are so busy trying to keep up with the demands of the Irish waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) recycling market that we are investing in Votechnik’s new ALR 4000, which is currently under development. The new technology will process LCDs even faster, in an equally-safe work environment. We expect to announce the new arrival in late 2020.