Sorting of bulk goods and recycling

Sorting of bulk goods involves the detection of foreign bodies and sorting for bulk goods during industrial processing. A distinction is made here between food and non-food.


Bulk materials are conveyed goods in bulk form, which must be as pure as possible during industrial processing. For this purpose, different sorting criteria are applied to the individual goods. Examples of such inspection tasks are the sorting of plastic granulates, the detection of foreign bodies in tobacco rib stems, tea, herbs as well as dried vegetables and the sorting of minerals (e.g. calcite, diamonds etc.) or cullet.


The bulk material flies off a conveyor belt at a speed of about 3 m/s and is recorded by a colour line scan camera. Behind the camera line of sight, the unwanted objects are blown out of the material stream by individually controlled nozzles while still in flight. The companies Hauni AG, ROEBER Institut and Binder+Co AG are our partners for industrial implementation. Since May 2005, foreign objects in teas and herbs have been automatically detected and blown out at Salus Haus.

You can find an animation of bulk material sorting here:

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Visual inspection system for bulk materials from Fraunhofer IOSB

We are experts in:

  • Use of various sensor principles for color- to material-specific sorting
  • Realization of multi-sensor systems
  • Development of task-specific illumination techniques
  • Algorithm development for sorting systems - from image processing to AI methods
  • Automatic learning of sorting recipes

Our current projects in the field of bulk material sorting


InnoTeer: Sustainable recycling of material from roads

Innovative technologies for the recycling of tar-containing road debris.


Fraunhofer Lighthouse Project »Waste4Future«

Turning waste into "green" molecules for chemistry. Six Fraunhofer institutes are pursuing three subprojects on the topic of new recycling process chains.


ASKIVIT: Extracting raw materials from bulky waste

Recovery of wood, wood-based materials and non-ferrous metals from bulky waste through automated sorting.



The Fraunhofer project "MAVO BauCycle" carries out recycling of fine-grained construction waste. 


Inside Schüttgut

With the help of a simulation-supported tracking procedure, the optical bulk material sorting is improved within the project "Inside Schüttgut".




"blackValue" is a strategic, business-oriented research project of several Fraunhofer Institutes.



The theme of the "Grapesort grape sorting project" is the optical sorting of grape berries by quality, which ensures improved separation of unwanted particles.

Our expertise in the field of bulk material sorting



Recycling is the largest source of raw materials in the world - at the Fraunhofer IOSB the necessary solutions for this have been researched and implemented for years in the department "Visual Inspection Systems".


Our test systems

The FlexSort and TableSort® sorting systems are transportable bulk material sorters and can therefore be used for on-site experiments and enable the reliable separation of material flows.



Real-time capable Multiobject Tracking

Image sequence evaluation and multi-object tracking are used for precise rejection and material characterisation during bulk material sorting.


Food quality through sorting systems

Sorting systems are used for the control and quality assurance of food. Our multispectral workbench enables objects to be accurately examined in the entire wavelength range from ultraviolet (UV) to visible (VIS) and near infrared (NIR). This is how we find the "fingerprint" that enables reliable machine sorting.


“Our technology helps to close material cycles”

Prof. Längle points to the need for a better recycling system in order to achieve the climate neutrality targeted by 2050. Material and chemical sorting, to which Längle refers and which are among the central fields of work at Fraunhofer IOSB, play a crucial role in this.


Business unit Inspection and Optronic Systems

Would you like to learn more about our projects in the field of inspection and optronic systems? Then visit the business unit page.


Department SPR of Fraunhofer IOSB

Would you like to learn more about our topics in the area of "Visual Inspection Systems"? Then visit the page of our SPR department and get more information.