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Title:
AUTOMATIC COMPONENT SEGREGATOR ENABLED WITH SMART INDUCTOR TESTING KITS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/089998
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
The present invention relates to an apparatus and a method for automatic segregation of working and non-working parts from waste printed circuit boards or electronic waste with minimal or no manual efforts. The apparatus comprises a component segregation section and a functionality check section, to segregate functional and non-functional components in the various stages depending upon their functionality, nature and reusability. The apparatus takes in the bulk waste product as feed; the entry of the same is sensed by the sensors provided on the conveyor belt and that initiates the segregation process. The components from the waste product then undergo a number of stages wherein all necessary steps are taken like, size sorting, metallic parts sorting, reusable parts sorting. The apparatus is enabled with at least one smart inductor testing device that checks the functionality of the inductors.

Inventors:
GUPTA, Nitin (H-59, Sector 63 Noida, Uttar Pradesh – 1, India, Noida 201301, 201301, IN)
RATURI, Gaurav (H-59, Sector 63 Noida, Uttar Pradesh – 1, India, Noida 201301, 201301, IN)
RIZWANI, Amit (Attero Recycling Pvt. Ltd, 173 Raipur Industrial Area, Bhagwanpur, Roorkee, Haridwar Uttarakhand - 1, India, Roorkee 247661, 247661, IN)
Application Number:
IB2016/057127
Publication Date:
June 01, 2017
Filing Date:
November 25, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ATTERO RECYCLING PVT. LTD. (H-59, Sector 63 Noida, Uttar Pradesh – 1, India, Noida 201301, 201301, IN)
International Classes:
B07B13/00; B03C1/00
Foreign References:
US7210581B22007-05-01
US6568612B12003-05-27
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
KAUSHIK, Shruti et al. (Patentwire Consultants Pvt. Ltd, B-10 Ground Floor, Vishwakarma Colony,M.B. Road, New Delhi-4, India, New Delhi 110044, 110044, IN)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

We claim:

1. An automatic component segregator for segregating electronic waste components

comprising:

a) a frame;

b) at least one feeder to receive the components to be segregated;

c) at least one conveyor system to move the components away from the feeder, the system comprising motor driven conveyor belt, at least one proximity sensor; d) plurality of roller separator units to segregate inductors according to their respective sizes, each of the unit comprising at least one roller separator and at least one hopper;

e) at least one magnetic sorter contiguous to the roller separator units to segregate magnetic components; and

f) at least one functionality check section contiguous to the at least one hopper of the roller separation units comprising, at least one inductor test kit, at least one scrutiny area, and at least one conveyer system to move the components towards the scrutiny area; wherein, the conveyor system is triggered on as soon as the conveyor belt receives the components from said feeder thus conveying the components towards the roller separator units; the roller separator units are placed at an adjustable height above the conveyor belt such that the conveyor belt runs just beneath the separator; the roller separator unit segregates and shifts the size segregated inductors into at least one hopper respective to the roller separator unit; the functionality check section receives the inductors from at least one hopper to perform at least one functionality test of the inductors using said at least one functionality test kit; the segregator is controlled by programmable logic controller.

2. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 1, wherein the functionality tests can be carried in either manual or automatic mode or both.

3. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 1, wherein the conveyor system further comprises an imaging module to detect presence of components on the conveyor belt.

4. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 1, wherein the means to move the components from hopper towards the scrutiny area comprises a motor driven conveyor belt.

5. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 1, wherein the functionality test kit is an inductance testing device.

6. An automatic component segregator for segregating electronic waste components comprising:

a) a frame;

b) at least one feeder to receive the components to be segregated;

c) at least one conveyor system to move the components away from the feeder, the system comprising motor driven conveyor belt, at least one proximity sensor; d) at least one separator units to segregate inductors from the components, each of the unit comprising at least one roller separator and at least one hopper; e) at least one magnetic sorter contiguous to the roller separator units to segregate magnetic components; and

f) at least one functionality check section contiguous to the roller separation units comprising, plurality of inductor test kits, at least one scrutiny area, and at least one conveyer system to move the inductor towards the scrutiny area wherein, the conveyor system is triggered on as soon as the conveyor belt receives the components from said feeder thus conveying the components towards the roller separator units; the roller separator units are placed at an adjustable height above the conveyor belt such that the conveyor belt runs just beneath the separator; the roller separator unit segregates and shifts the size segregated inductors into at least one hopper respective to the roller separator unit; the functionality check section receives the inductors from at least one hopper to perform at least one functionality test of the inductors using said at least one functionality test kit; and the segregator is controlled by programmable logic controller.

7. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 6, wherein the functionality tests can be carried in either manual or automatic mode or both.

8. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 6, wherein the conveyor system further comprises an imaging module to detect presence of components on the conveyor belt.

9. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 6, wherein the means to move the components from hopper towards the scrutiny area comprises a motor driven conveyor belt.

10. The automatic component segregator as claimed in claim 6, wherein the functionality test kit is an inductance testing device.

Description:
"AUTOMATIC COMPONENT SEGREGATOR ENABLED WITH SMART INDUCTOR

TESTING KITS"

FIELD OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to an apparatus and a method for automatic segregation of recyclable and reusable parts from electronic wastes. More particularly, it relates to an apparatus and a method for automatic separation of the working and non-working parts of a waste printed circuit boards.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION E-waste management is an important requirement for ecologically sustainable development in many countries. Efficient sorting of waste is a major issue in today's society and is becoming a burgeoning problem for the waste management industries to ensure effective and sustainable management of waste. The economic value of waste is best realized when it is segregated. The trend of making the manually controlled things automatic has become a common practice these days. Making things automatic reduces burden on the humans. Also, the cost and effort used in manually operated products is much higher than that of the automated systems.

The main problem of manually operated waste management systems is checking and segregating components based upon their recovery, reuse potential. The usual method either involves a manual approach wherein either a person has to wander through the different spots, checking the places for waste collection or a team is required for identification and segregation of the components. This is somewhat complex and time consuming process. Hence, the present day waste management system is not as efficient as it should have been taking into consideration the advancements in the technologies that arose in the recent years. Hence, there is no safeguard regarding effective utilization of the e-waste by the proper identification, segregation and applying waste management approaches for the underlying components of the e-wastes. Moreover, there's another problem wherein recyclers need to identify values or reuse capability of underlying components of the e-wastes to determine or plan the appropriate waste management strategy. PCB's are the important components of electrical equipments that owns a precious composition of metals, non-metals, the parts like capacitors, semiconductors, inductors, removable board ports etc. Hence, recycling becomes a more complex task. The complexity of recovery process is not merely due to the disparity of precious composition; rather it is due to the existence of such removable parts that have tendency of reuse, recycle, or recovery depending on the functional state of the components.

Re-using functional components like capacitors, inductors, semiconductors etc. could be a better option and cost effective approach in an effective waste management procedure.

CN101444784A discloses a method and a device for high-efficiency recovery of waste circuit boards in vacuum. As per the disclosed methodology, the waste circuit board is arranged in a vacuum vessel and heated for pyrolysis, wherein, most of pyrolysis volatile matter is cooled and liquefied into liquid oil, and the rest is taken into a gas collector; a centrifuge device separates soldering tin from the circuit board during the pyrolysis; substrates and electronic components of the pyrolyzed circuit board are assorted and collected to be further separated and recovered. The main disadvantage of this method is that the heating involved in the pyrolysis process might affect the functionality of working components even pyrolysis take place under vacuum condition.

US6234317 discloses device for sorting raw, pretreated or recycled bulk material. The device is of lesser utility in recycling purpose as the main function of component removal from PCB has to be performed separately.

In order to overcome limitations of the state of the art, one way is to come up with an approach that can ensure an effective waste management procedure irrespective of the nature, functional status, and abundance of valuable materials like metals, non-metals etc. Such approach should focus on the ease of operation, low dependence on man power and tendency to implement one or more waste management techniques at the same time without interrupting the parallel ongoing process (s).

Therefore, an approach is needed that can automatically segregate the components and determine the functional state of the components which may help the recyclers to set the flow and objectives of waste management process which either may be the re-use, recycling, and recovery of the components.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION The main object of the present invention is to provide an automatic component segregator comprising a component segregation section and a functionality check section equipped with plurality of inductor testing kits or device, said check section is contiguously attached to the segregation section to segregate functional and non-functional inductors in the various stages depending upon their functionality, nature and reusability. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an approach for reuse of functional inductor(s) present in the electronic waste.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus enabling a sensing mechanism to sense entry of waste on the conveyor belt of the apparatus.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus wherein specific parameters like temperature, speed, time can be customized as per the requirement of the segregation process.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a method of segregation involving automatic operations like size sorting, metal sorting and inductors sorting from printed circuit boards or any electronic waste products having components with scope of reuse, recovery and recycling.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) controlled apparatus that through a series of input/output modules, sensor modules and communication processors operates the segregation process in an automatic mode.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a sensing mechanism enabled apparatus to sense presence of waste on the conveyer belt and initiating the belt movement.

Yet another aspect of the present invention is to provide an apparatus with a safety mechanism to protect damage of embedded parts present in the e-waste. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Accordingly, the present invention relates to an apparatus for automatic segregation of working and non-working parts from waste printed circuit boards or electronic waste with minimal or no manual efforts. The apparatus comprises a component segregation section and a functionality check section equipped with plurality of inductor testing kits, said check section is contiguously attached to the segregation section to separate working and non- working inductors in the various stages depending upon their functionality, nature and reusability. The apparatus automatically takes in the bulk waste product as feed; the entry of the same is then sensed by the sensors provided on the conveyer belt and initiates the segregation process. The components from the waste product are then undergo a number of stages wherein all necessary steps are taken like shredding, size sorting, metal sorting, reusable parts sorting viz. chips, inductors, resistors etc. The segregated inductors are then transferred to the functionality check section wherein the functionality assessment of the same takes place. The functionality check section comprises a conveyor system, plurality of inductor testing kits, a scrutiny area enabled with said kits.

Upon transfer on the functionality check section, the inductors are tested using the kits for reusability. During testing procedure, the inductors are first checked for physical integrity followed by connectivity and value tests; if the inductor passes the physical test it is sent for connectivity test and value test. In case the inductor fails in one of these tests, it is sent for mechanical recycling. Otherwise, the inductor is declared fit for reuse.

The plurality of kit(s) includes separate kits for checking connectivity and inductor values.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

The various features, advantages and other uses of the present e-waste recycling method and apparatus will become more apparent by referring to the following detailed description and drawings in which: FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the component segregator apparatus contiguously attached with a functionality check section according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2a is a process flow diagram elucidating the component removal procedure according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 2b is a schematic flow diagram for the processing of remaining material obtained is explained.

FIG. 3 is a process diagram depicting the various stages like size sorting, metal sorting and inductor(s) sorting according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the main component segregator along with a capacitor functionality check section according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 is a layout of a PLC controlled system controlling various component removal machines equipped in the apparatus.

FIG. 6 is a flow chart to explain inductor reuse mechanism according to an embodiment of the present invention. FIG. 7 is the front view of the inductor connectivity testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 8 is the side view of the inductor connectivity testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a top view of inductor connectivity testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 10 is the perspective view of the inductor value testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 11 is the side view of the inductor value testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The present invention now will be described hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which some, but not all embodiments of the invention are shown. Indeed, the invention may be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided so that this disclosure will satisfy applicable legal requirements.

Many modifications and other embodiments of the invention set forth herein will readily occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention pertain having the benefit of the teachings presented in the foregoing descriptions and the associated drawings. Therefore, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the specific embodiments disclosed and that modifications and other embodiments are intended to be included within the scope of the appended drawings. Although specific terms are employed herein, they are used in a generic and descriptive sense only and not for purposes of limitation.

FIG. 1 is an isometric view of component segregator depicting complete system for executing the segregation process. In the first step, the e-waste components from component removal machine(s) 500 are received by the primary sieving unit 110 for sorting. Component removal machines provide two types of fractions, i.e. fine and coarse, other than the blank boards. Primary sieving unit 110 conducts screening of fraction containing Solder balls, dust, inductors, capacitors, pins and fine particles, which further goes for separate sorting system 300._Furthermore, the inductors are sorted and separated by any suitable method preferably, a roller separation method. Thereafter, the inductors are selectively sent towards the inductors functionality check section 200 for the functionality determination of inductors in terms of their connectivity and value. The functionality check section 200 is equipped with at least one connectivity test kit 300 and at least one inductor value testing kit 400 to assess functionality of the inductors. For functionality assessment of inductors, a functionality check area 210 is provided on at least one side of the section 200. In yet another embodiment, the functionality check section comprises of at least one conveyer system to convey inductors towards the scrutiny area 210.

FIG. 2a is a process flow diagram elucidating the component removal procedure wherein the waste material is fed into the component removal machine/apparatus. The component removal machine (CRM) performs preparatory steps like primary sorting of electronic waste, and removal of the components of the e-waste, particularly waste printed circuit boards. After component removal, the blank boards are sent for shredding and further recycling procedures. Whereas, the removed components are sent for segregation process of present invention. Precisely, the component removal machine connected prior to the segregator apparatus removes all of the working and non working components from the printed circuit boards and conveys said components for various checks to ensure proper waste management approach depending on the type and status of each component. For example, if printed circuit board is entered as feed then the apparatus would remove all the embedded components of the printed circuit boards convey all such parts for functionality check with the help of various sensing modules and smart testing kits equipped in the apparatus. If components are found in good working condition, then they are sent for reuse purpose. Similarly, if components are found defective, then other approaches of waste management could be opted based on recovery, recycle potential of such defective part(s). The blank boards after component removal are sent for metal recovery process.

Referring to FIG. 2b, a schematic flow diagram for the processing of remaining material obtained is explained. The removed components are sent for size sorting, sieving, metals sorting, and chips sorting. Size sorting of the removed components is done by the rolling separation method. Whereas, metals present in the removed components are sorted through magnetic sorter.

Referring to FIG. 3, a process diagram depicting the various stages like size sorting, metal sorting and inductors sorting according to an embodiment of the present invention. Size sorting is done in stages further by passing the components through rollers and segregating connectors/ports, processor jack/Iron, inductors where inductors are sent to functionality check section where they are scrutinize if they need to be introduced to mechanical recycling or reuse.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the main component segregator along with a capacitor functionality check section according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the segregator comprises a frame 145 to support the conveyer system 120 and other sub-assemblies. There are two types of PCB material fractions received from CRM processing other than Blank board namely fine and coarse. Primary sieving unit 110 does the screening of Fine fraction which contains Solder balls, dust, inductors, high value small capacitors, pins and fine particles, which further goes for separate sorting system. The primary sieving unit 110 forms with screen, cam mechanism for back and forth vibration. It is same as vibratory feeder.The primary sieving unit 110 receives the components from the component removal machine (CRM) wherein, the coarse and fine components are separated. The coarser components includes the components like heat sink, sockets, connectors, copper coils, capacitors, coils, connecter bases, transistors, inductors, chips, etc. The coarse components are then transferred to feeder 115 which receives all sized / coarse fraction of mixed components It works on cam mechanism for back and forth vibration. It is same as vibratory feeder. The feeder 115 is contiguously connected to the conveyer system 120. The conveyer system 120 comprises a motor driven conveyer belt that longitudinally runs along the main frame 145 and conveys the coarse fraction of mixed components which passes through various separation stages. The conveyor system further comprises cameras and proximity sensors to sense the components on the conveyor belt and triggering the motor thus moving the conveyor belt in desired direction. A plurality of roller separators 125, 130, & 140 is provided at a suitable location at an adjustable height above the conveyor belt, such that the belt runs just beneath the separators. Each roller separator unit is provided with at least one hopper 155 to receive and collect the components from the roller separator unit. Each roller separator unit segregates the components depending upon their size and transfers the remaining components towards another roller separator unit where, the components are segregated based on the same principle (size based). As discussed above, the segregated components are collected in the respective hoppers 155. Hoppers acts as guide to segregated materials and help in transfer thereof to the functionality check section 200._For segregation of magnetic components, a magnetic separator/sorter 160 is provided. The magnetic separator/sorter is attached subsequently next to the roller separators to initiate the magnetic separation process with the components left after roller separation process and guides segregated iron material to collection bins.

In another embodiment, the functionality check section 200 comprises a conveyer system, a scrutiny area 210, at least one inductor connectivity testing kit assembly 300 and/or at least one inductor value test kit 400. The conveyer system conveys the segregated capacitors towards the scrutiny area wherein, the functionality assessment takes place. The connectivity test kit assembly have a provision to test connectivity of all the inductors. Whereas, the inductor value test kit scrutinize inductor values. Referring to FIG. 5, a layout of a PLC controlled system controlling various component removal machines equipped in the apparatus. The PLC system operates all the machines, rollers and sieving motors in an automatic mode. The status of the operation is displayed on the LCD/TFT screen provided to monitor proper functioning of the apparatus.

Referring to FIG. 6, a flow chart to explain inductor reuse mechanism is elucidated wherein each indicator is gone through an initial physical test. If the capacitor passes the physical test it is proceed for further tests like connectivity test and value test. If, in case, the inductor fails either of the test it is sent for mechanical recycling.

Referring to FIG. 7 is the front view of the inductor connectivity testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention. The kit comprises an ON/OFF switch 345, an enclosure 350, at least one test PCB 355, at least one mounting screw 360; at least one connecting plate, and at least one indication means 370.

FIG. 8 is the side view of the inductor connectivity testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the kit comprises: an enclosure 320, at least one test PCB 325, a positive connecting plate 330, a negative connecting plate 335, all these components are mounted on the base 340.

Referring to FIG. 9, a top view of inductor connectivity testing kit is elucidated. In this embodiment, the kit comprises: an enclosure 320, at least one test PCB 325, a positive connecting plate 330, and a negative connecting plate 335.

This test is carried to ensure that the coil is fine and not broken. When the connecting inductor is connected to the connecting plates, and the indication LED blinks, it means that the inductor coil is working.

FIG. 10 is the perspective view of the inductor value testing kit 400 according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the testing kit 400 is capable of determining inductor values by displaying inductance for each inductor under observation.

FIG. 11 is the side view of the inductor value testing kit according to an embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the connecting plates (425, 430) are provided on the enclosure 410. The inductor value testing kit comprises of inductance meter with a LCD display 405, an On/Off button for the kit 415, upper connecting plate 425 and lower connecting plate 430. The test is done to determine inductance value of the inductor. The inductor is connected to the connecting plates and the inductance values are observed from the display.

In another embodiment, the reuse approach of inductors by functionality thereof with the test kits as described in the present invention is a cost-effective approach that consumes very low power. The components used in the testing kit are economic and easily available, which helps to keep overall costs of the kit low.

Accordingly, in a most preferred embodiment of the present invention is proposed an automatic component segregator for segregating electronic waste components comprising: a) a frame;

b) at least one feeder to receive the components to be segregated;

c) at least one conveyor system to move the components away from the feeder, the system comprising motor driven conveyor belt, at least one proximity sensor;

d) plurality of roller separator units to segregate inductors according to their respective sizes, each of the unit comprising at least one roller separator and at least one hopper;

e) at least one magnetic sorter contiguous to the roller separator units to segregate magnetic components; and

f) at least one functionality check section contiguous to the at least one hopper of the roller separation units comprising, at least one inductor test kit, at least one scrutiny area, and at least one conveyer system to move the components towards the scrutiny area; wherein, the conveyer system senses the load and starts transferring the components towards the roller separator units; the roller separator unit segregates and shifts the inductor(s) to be checked into at least one hopper respective to the roller separator unit; and the functionality check section receives the inductor(s) from at least one hopper to perform at least one functionality test of the inductor(s) using said at least one functionality test kit.