What We’ve Learned: Accumulation Best Practices in E-Commerce
This is a four-part blog series covering best practices in areas of e-commerce. You can find the first blog here.
Material handling solutions in e-commerce facilities may have special requirements. In both small and large distribution centers, these solutions are best implemented with knowledge and experience, following best practices from beginning to end.
During accumulation, products are combined from different areas of the solution and prepared for sortation. This also serves as a buffer between operations. If needing to change carriers or transport containers, accumulating product allows the operation to continue with minimum lost throughput.
Create smooth transitions
Many of the same rules that apply to transport apply to accumulation. Again, creating smooth transitions from conveyor to conveyor is imperative. Any catch points can disrupt the flow of packages, so eliminate them and focus on guarding and gaps that products may get caught in. Taking time in the beginning to ensure product flows smoothly will save you headache in the long run.
Consider the product
In a distribution center, there is a variety of product that may need to be accumulated, including small packages and larger cartons. Consider the product and ensure that the system is able to convey even the most irregular of packaging. For any items that won’t convey or accumulate properly on rollers, utilize a roller belt solution, which will keep your product from getting caught in the gaps between rollers.
Hytrol’s RBE24EZ is a full-width roller belt conveyor that uses 24-volt technology in the accumulation of small items, like letters and poly-bags. With conveying speeds of 31-150 FPM, it creates optimal throughput. The related RBIE24EZ is an inclined version of the same product.
Use the correct logic controls
In addition to following the same guidelines as with transport conveyor, accumulation equipment must be able to accurately sense the product, taking into account the shape and height accurately. The logic used must be able to determine false signals and match speeds to account for any incorrect spacing of product. A Warehouse Control System (WCS) synchronizes the systems of multi-channel distribution operations and serves as a link between employees, conveyor and automation.
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