Orlando, Fla. — America is an important market for Tomra Sorting Inc.'s recycling division, and the company is looking to make it an even bigger part of its business.
That's why Carlos Manchado, regional director for recycling in the Americas, plans to establish a dedicated office for his unit in Charlotte, N.C., this year.
The facility will combine sales, service and parts under one roof for the optical sorting company.
The Americas is the second-largest market for Tomra's recycling units in the world, following Europe, the Middle East and Africa. And the vast majority of the company's 810 units now in place in the Americas are working in the United States.
Manchado, who currently operates out of a Tomra Sorting office in Shelton, Conn., said having a dedicated space in the Mid-Atlantic for the recycling portion of the business will help raise the company's profile as it looks to expand in the U.S.
Markets other than recycling that use Tomra sorting equipment are food and mining.
"It's expansion. We will start with an office, but we will have a warehouse as well," he said.
"Parts and service will come out of there on the East Coast," added Rick Fenton, sales manager for North America East at Tomra Recycling. "We have the West Coast taken care of with parts and service [out of Sacramento, Calif.].
"It's a good point in the middle of the country on the East Coast," Manchado said. "We already have this in Sacramento ... and we want to do the same on the East Coast as well."
It's not uncommon for machinery companies to have regional hubs to cut down on response times for both service as well as parts shipments. That's especially important for plastics recyclers who run around-the-clock operations and need to have quick response times to keep their systems running.
Tomra also has changed the way it interacts with customers, electing to start selling and marketing directly to customers. The company's equipment was previously sold through Van Dyk Recycling Solutions, which represents multiple machine makers.
But Tomra ended that exclusivity while still maintaining a relationship with Van Dyk, which continues to sell Tomra equipment.
"We see a lot of potential here. That's why it's important for us to be alone and fighting for these new applications that for [equipment makers] they are more focused on a single [market]," he said.
"I think we have a big potential here," Manchado said. "There's a lot of applications."
"How we see the future here is very positive. There's a lot done, but we still have a lot to do here yet, not only in the U.S. but the rest of Americas," Manchado said.
While Tomra was talking about expansion plans at NPE2018 in Orlando, the company also took the opportunity to introduce its new Laser Object Detection, or LOD, system that's designed to complement near infrared (NIR) technology already widely used.
NIR is popular to sort by both color and resin type, but it does have its limitations. NIR is ineffective on black plastic and any glass, for example, that might end up in the plastics stream.
The LOD system uses a laser approach that can identify objects by shape, which provides an extra layer of sortation by distinguishing between a bottle and a tray, for example.
LOD can be retrofitted into recent optical sorters or can be integrated into the same unit for newly constructed units.
Tomra also introduced its new Sharp Eye technology, will allows recyclers to separate single-layer PET trays from PET bottles.
This helps because PET trays and PET bottles, while made of the same material, can end up having different viscosity levels because of their manufacture.
"The same material, but completely different properties. It's a must for recyclers to [separate] these materials," Manchado said.
Tomra already had technology to separate monolayer PET from multilayer PET, but the new Sharp Eye technology takes the process a step further.
This, Manchado said, will create more consistent quality for recycled-based products.