ESA – Ecologia Soluzione Ambiente SpA is a North Italian Company based in Bibbiano (Reggio Emilia) specialized in innovative solutions for the environment and founded by the President, Enrico Benedetti.

ESA is a multi-business reality that offers a wide range of technologies for public administrations, multi-utilities, companies, and individuals on four macro-areas of activity: waste management, wastewater treatment, containers regeneration and handling services, demilitarization.

In the recent years, the Company has invested in its Waste Division and has implemented even more its range of products to make waste management more efficient and sustainable.

One of the most innovative solutions designed and engineered by ESA is 2AS – Two Automatic System, a robotic equipment for urban waste collection specifically thought for the smart city.

Interview with Alessio Valentini, ESA Operations Manager.

Easy Engineering: The robot who redesigns green cities’ waste management logistics

Alessio Valentini: 2AS is a technological vertical collection system that, combining GPS and IoT, only goes where there’s waste to be emptied, fully managing the waste collection logistics. It completes the emptying cycle in only 65 seconds with above-ground containers (115 with undergrounds) and can handle waste containers on both sides of the street, guaranteeing a maximization of collection time, allowing the waste management company to schedule its routes in advance, and consequently reducing polluting emission.

This system consists of a variety of stationary or roll-off equipment, engineered containers, robotized arm that hooks and empties them without the need for the driver to get out of the vehicle, interface equipped with artificial vision and software capable of planning the route.

The robotized arm is equipped with 7 IP cameras to allow the control of the operations through the touch and scroll monitor placed inside the cockpit, UHF tag to recognize the containers and allow the flow of data between the latter and the system and latest generation laser pointing to assist the equipment’s movement system.

The range of containers combined to the system varies from above-grounds made with recycled HDPE, both in standard and slim sizes, to underground containers, perfect for reducing the visual impact and designed to make conferment easier for the weakest.

Both above-ground and underground containers are equipped with fill level sensors, UHF recognition system, electronics and controlled access system. These features allow the containers to communicate the operating parameters, report anomalies and keep track of the amount of waste deposited: by collecting these operating parameters in real time, daily routes can be planned to avoid unnecessary emptying; the electronics placed on them can recognize users and even distinguish between residents and non-residents. All this is made possible by the integration of technologies such as GPS, the internet of things and artificial intelligence.

E.E: What are the advantages of 2AS System?

A.V: The numerous cities around the world that have adopted 2AS, when fully operational, have reported separate collection rates higher than 80%: this thanks to the electronics placed on the containers and to the user-friendly design.

Other key advantages of this system are the high speed of the operating cycle, which guarantees lower emissions, and the benefit for the single operator’s health: the system has been designed to allow the driver to carry out all operations while sitting in the cockpit. With a simple touch on the screen, from the driving position the driver can, for example, signal the presence of bulky waste, so the system automatically sends the issue to the control unit.

2AS combines the benefits for the environment, the workers and the users with the economic saving for the waste management company, that can use a system that is capable of planning the whole waste logistics: these are some of the reasons why municipalities in Europe, North Africa, Asia and South America have been already using it, included Romania.

E.E: Can you tell us something about the future evolutions of this system?

A.V: Our 2AS System is constantly evolving. At the moment our technical team is working to improve the on-board vision systems: our goal is to integrate artificial vision platforms that are usually used in the automotive segment, since they’re more suited to the needs of our system than those developed for industrial applications.

In the near future the system will therefore be equipped with the same vision technology developed for self-driving cars, designed to perceive the city environment, characterized by many more variables than those typical of a production line or an assembly chain. To make this leap, ESA has activated collaborations with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, the General Confederation of Italian Industry, the Emilia-Romagna Region and with some startups in the area that are working on automotive artificial vision systems for car manufacturers in the motor valley, such as Maserati, Ferrari and Lamborghini. This is the first time that attempts have been made to use automotive-type artificial vision in our sector.

The other frontier on which ESA engineers are committed is to focus on hybrid models for the 2AS System truck-robots, now supplied by Renault, Iveco, Mercedes and Scania. Our goal is to be able to use electric propulsion during the entire container emptying phase: from when the truck stops to the first 500 meters after it restarts, to further reduce noise and atmospheric emissions, to the full advantage of the city and its inhabitants.

E.E: What estimations do you have for 2021?

A.V: ESA has ended 2020 with a turnover of just under 20 million euros. Precisely, the Waste Division records strong growth in revenues: thanks to the 2AS System, the division has doubled its turnover last year and forecasts to do the same this year.

To support the growth of production activity, ESA has just inaugurated a new 27.000 m2 plant that has been completely dedicated to the manufacture of recycled HDPE containers, equipped with access control electronics and sensors for detecting the filling level and for collecting the operating parameters in real time.

If you want to learn how this system works, head to our YouTube channel:

https://www.youtube.com/c/EcologiaSoluzioneAmbienteSpA/

Or website www.ecologia.re.it/2as.