10116 .50 Caliber Projectile Recycling

Project Type: Non-Food Process Fall 2008 - Summer 2009

Summary & Goals

This project was for a local recycling company. The company had developed a unique theoretical process for recycling .50 caliber ammunition at high speeds and needed control systems to execute the process. TLG developed control system hardware designs, provided programming, and provided on-site installation/start-up assistance.


Through a chemical process, the material inside the projectiles was separated from the projectile shell. The copper shells were then washed and collected. The rest of the material travelled through a series of tanks and filters to collect other valuable metals in a solid form. Two control systems were required. One system was to control the sorting and indexing of the projectiles into the process. The other system controlled the rest of the chemical process.

The first system utilized an Allen-Bradley CompactLogix PLC to control six indexer/sorter dial machines. These units provided approximately 80 projectiles each per minute to the process while rejecting and sorting the projectiles that did not meet certain criteria. A vision camera was mounted on each indexer to “score” the product as it entered the indexer dial. Only certain types of .50 ammunition were allowed to continue through the process. Other types were rejected at designated locations on the dial onto conveyors. This system was operated in one location using a AB PanelView Plus 1500 touchscreen that allowed for full control of the system in automatic and manual modes and displayed alarms.


The second system utilized an Allen-Bradley SLC 5/05 PLC provided by the customer. This controller was used to progress the projectiles through the chemical process separating shells from the inner materials. The inner materials were then progressed through a tank and filter system to acquire other valuable metals. Eventually the final byproduct of the process was simply water sent to drain and verified by pH sensors. This system involved monitoring and controlling tank levels, flow rates, pH levels, and temperature. This system shared the PanelView with the indexer system via Ethernet. The system could be fully controlled from this HMI in automatic and manual modes and display alarms.

TLG provided control panel hardware, UL Listed panel construction, system schematics, and installation/start-up assistance. For the HMI, TLG also provided all screens in the Spanish Language as well as English allowing the user to choose which language to use. The customer was responsible for mechanical and chemical design and equipment installation.


The process ran successfully at the rates desired by the customer. The customer ran the line for over a year and eventually decommissioned the line when they ran out of ammunition. The project resulted in a huge ROI for the customer in a short time.

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