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Intelligent Automation of Reverse Vending Machines (RVM)

Numerous processes in reverse vending machines can be automated using intelligent sensor technology. This enables valuable resources to be recycled, throughput times shortened and processes designed to be reliable, cost-effective and safe. Thanks to these technologies, reverse vending machines are also a key component of the global circular economy.

Smart Return Systems: Automated Applications from A to Z

From the insertion of different types of containers, to the sorting and transport of returned objects, right through to compaction and collection: The possibilities of automated process flows in return machines are almost unlimited. It is not only the reliable detection of objects that plays a key role here, but also the differentiation of materials, the safeguarding of the systems against manipulation or enabling efficient transport routes. This interactive graphic provides a comprehensive overview of all applications in reverse vending machines from A to Z.

Detection for Professionals: The Biggest Challenges in Reverse Vending Machines

RVM Challenge 1: Materials and Textures

Whether single-use, reusable, PET, glass bottles or cans – an automatic reverse vending machine must be able to reliably detect these containers regardless of shape or color. Shiny, reflective and transparent objects, some of which are heavily deformed, must be reliably detected and differentiated.

RVM Challenge 2: High Degree of Contamination

Reverse vending machines are point-of-sale systems and are operated hundreds of times a day by everyone. Contamination from leaking, spraying liquids or dust poses a major challenge for many sensors. wenglor’s specially developed technologies can actively compensate for contamination by dynamically adjusting the switching threshold, thus ensuring fault-free machine operation.

RVM Challenge 3: Colors and Shading

There are no limits to the variety of beverage packaging. Colors in particular can be a challenge when combined with different object shapes and the individual lighting situation inside the reverse vending machine. wenglor sensors not only master the entire color spectrum when detecting objects, but also contrasts, grayscales or shades.

RVM Automation: Physical Functional Principles at a Glance

RVM DNA Inside: Sensors Made for Reverse Vending Machine Systems

As an automation expert for intelligent sensor technology, our wenglor developers have been developing and further progressing ingenious solutions, for reverse vending machines in particular, for many years. Three of these product highlights with RVM DNA are the focus here.

The PET Professional: Through-Beam Sensor for PET Selection OSR/OER

These through-beam sensors distinguish transparent PET from other transparent materials such as glass and opaque objects. It is precisely this ability that is required in reverse vending machine systems. The sensors are equipped with two switching outputs to show these states. The sensor can be checked for correct functioning via the test input. Multiple emitters can also be synchronized, which means that closely positioned barriers do not affect each other. Because of the M18 threaded connector, the sensor is easy to install and protected mechanically.
 
  • Dynamic adjustment of the switching threshold for high system availability
  • High dynamic range for detecting dark objects
  • Multiplex mode for tight installation spaces
  • Compact 1R housing design (56.5 × 26 × 24 mm) with M18 threaded connection for high robustness and easy installation
  • Reliable differentiation between PET, glass and metal – in one sensor!
     

The Transparency Expert: Retro-Reflex Sensor for Transparent Objects K1R87PCT2

Retro-reflex sensors require a reflector to function and reliably detect even transparent objects and films – ideal for detecting objects in reverse vending machines. The M18 thread fastener provides mechanical protection and enables easy installation. 
 
  • Dynamic adjustment of the switching threshold for high system availability
  • Compact 1R housing design (56.5 × 26 × 24 mm) with M18 threaded connection for high robustness and easy installation
  • Detection of clear objects with single-lens optics
  • Remote maintenance and condition monitoring thanks to IO-Link 1.1
  • External teach-in

The All-Rounder: Ultrasonic Distance Sensor U1RT004

These ultrasonic sensors evaluate the sound reflected from the object. They detect almost any object regardless of the material and its condition. Thanks to the innovative transducer, this sensor has a particularly wide sonic cone at close range. This allows a very wide range of pieces to be reliably detected on conveyor belts in reverse vending machines.
 
  • No contamination thanks to ultrasonic waves
  • Compact 1R housing design (56.5 × 26 × 24 mm) with M18 threaded connection for high robustness and easy installation
  • Wide sonic cone for detecting all objects
  • Remote maintenance and condition monitoring thanks to IO-Link 1.1
  • External teach-in

Reverse Vending Machine Check: Essential Requirements

Product Comparison