Sortation Explained

Sortation defines when an item or parcel is automatically identified by scanning a bar-code, its data immediately sent to host system for ID ‘look-up’ and return data is processed via Sorter PLC, allowing item to be sorted to correct destination (chute number)

Will a Sorter be ideal for our operation?

If your distribution processes are being stretched due to increased output, leading to higher labour costs and space constraints, then implementation of a tailor-made Sorter may be the answer

Sorter benefits

Accuracy: integration of latest technology can reduce costly errors often associated with manual handling

Productivity: items can be processed many times faster than best manual practises

ROI: cost can be recovered by a combination of reduced labour, less errors and reduced shipping rates (discounts offered for various levels of pre-sort prior to collection)

Flexibility: modular design allows systems to be easily extended to cope with future volume / destination increases

Peace of Mind: installing the correct Sorter will ensure customers receive the correct goods

What can be sorted

Single items: in to multiple orders ready for packing and possibly re-sorting for shipping (see outbound parcels)

Outbound parcels: sorting a range of parcels (e-com bags, cartons, corrugated wraps, envelopes etc) to courier, post code, destination, store or a.n.other split required

Incoming goods: sorting individual items into correct chutes, each dedicated to a zone or location within the DC

Returned goods: as above

How to build a project (consider);

What needs to be sorted, product type, dimensions, weight and contact surface of the products

Items which may be considered ‘ugly’ as they are either too small to be sorted or larger than the chosen conveyor / chute widths, or unsuitable for automated handling due to shape (e.g. cylindricals)

Current and future throughput (calculated as items per hour)

Number of operatives employed in current process, versus number required in proposed solution

Space requirement

Who will develop and manage the software and data requirements

What can be included?

Induction: single or multiple induction points

Merging: multiple induction points merging in to a single lane

Gaping: separate items to allow successful scanning

Scanning: single or multiple bar code readers ensure all parcel sizes can be scanned in any orientation

Weighing: catch-weighing to build to a maximum total weight, or check-weighing to ensure consignment matches expected weight (not allowing despatch of unders / overs)

Volumising: extracting item or parcel dimensions for multi-purpose functions

Inclining: create suitable height for items to decline easily down chutes / roller conveyors

Diverting: position item on correct side of line to reduce transfer distance (increasing line speed)

Sorting: transferring items to the correct chute / roller conveyor (see Sorter types)

Outfeeds: various standard and bespoke options available to suit product type

Sorter types

Pop-up: items lifted and diverted to chutes left or right of central lane

Pusher: single sided solution pushes item to chute from central lane

Cross belt: complete series of belts run on a single track, then drive left or right when correct location is reached

Turn-key solutions

It is unlikely that any two sortation projects will be the same, but is definite that it will contain a combination of standard and bespoke elements. It is advised that the end user, supplier and key third parties (e.g. software and data development / management providers) are involved from the outset

If there is any doubt that a Sorter would be beneficial to the operation, then go and see a similar system in full flow

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