A sortation system (sorter) is an integrated material handling conveyor system that automatically diverts product to a conveyor or chute for delivery to other areas of the DC including put-away, consolidation, replenishment, picking, audit and outbound shipments. A sorter is usually chosen when the required speed and accuracy of an operation are too great to compensate for with manual labor.
There are many types of sorters and sortation systems available from which to chose. Variables that must be considered when selecting the proper sortation equipment include
Throughput rate requirements. High speed sorters can accomplish speeds of up to 600 feet per minute and case rates greater than 60 per minute whereas there are low rate diverters that are used in applications that only require less than 10 diverts per minute. Typically the throughput rate is the first consideration when selecting the proper sortation equipment as it can quickly eliminate many of the available options.
- High Speed Sortation Systems include Sliding Shoe Sorters, Cross Belt Sorters, Tilt Tray Sorters, 30 Degree Narrow Belt Sorters, and Active Roller Bed (ARB) Sorters
- Medium Rate Sortation Systems include Pivot Wheel Diverters, Pop-Up Wheel Diverts, and 90 Degree Narrow Belt Sorters
- Low Rate Sortation Systems include 90 degree transfers, pushers, plows, and swing arm diverters
Physical features of the product to be sorted. There are many divert mechanisms, including basic side frame mounted pushers and plows, pivot wheels, sliding shoes, and even tilt trays or cross belts. Since product features can also significantly eliminate sortation options, this is ususally the second step in the process for identifying the proper sortation technology for any given application
- Fragile items do not fair well with with hard-acting forces applied to them such as the pushers or plows.
- Small items are not reliably sorted with pivot wheels or 90 degree transfers, especially if they are also very light weight
- Bags or soft envelopes should avoid rollers and wheels altogether
Number of diverts over a given distance. This is the third critical variable in determining the proper equipment for a sortation system
- The complexity of requiring tight divert centers is only accomodated by a few types of technologies
- There are not many sorters that can handle a great deal of divert locations over hundreds of feet without having to add another sorter in series
In addition to these key considerations, there are others that are unique to the circustamces. The limitations of the building, the ability to scan product labels, the communications between the sorter controller and the host system, as well as many other nuances play key roles in designing the proper sortation system. Please contact TriFactor and leverage our experience across multiple industries and expertise in order to design and implement the solution that best fits your application.