What You Need to Know When Selecting a Sortation Conveyor
Sortation conveyors are the piece of the material handling puzzle that helps get the products to the customer. They increase shipping accuracy and efficiency by separating products for better distribution. With so many sortation conveyors available, which one is the ideal solution for your system?
Answer These First
Product. You must identify the size and weight of the products that will be sorted. Poly bags transport different than boxes, and those differences need to be accounted for during the planning phase. The package weight and structural integrity need to be factored in, as well as package diversity (are there different types and weights of packages being sorted) when selecting the sortation conveyor.
Speed. What is the required throughput needed? Customers are wanting their deliveries faster and faster. Based on your product size, how quickly and safely can the product be sorted while also meeting the customers’ delivery demands.
Budget. How much are you allowed to spend on the system? Conveyors vary in price based on the drive, length, width, etc. Your budget will definitely impact your conveyor selection.
Other. There are many other questions that must be answered during the planning phase of your system. What are the floor space requirements? Does noise level need to be considered? Is energy usage important? These are just a few of the additional questions that must be answered before deciding on a sortation solution.
Now that you have an understanding of the goals and needs of the system, let’s look at the different sortation conveyor options.
Sliding Shoe Sorter
These sortation conveyors are high-speed workhorses that provide the highest rate of sortation available. They are built using aluminum slats with shoes that slide along the slat to gently divert the product. These sortation conveyors boast high throughputs and sort the smallest of packages, including flat envelopes. They are typically used in e-commerce and parcel facilities.
Narrow Belt Sorter
Narrow belt sortation conveyors provide 30 and 90 degree divert of products. Multiple narrow belts are used for transportation with pop-up rollers between the belts to divert the product. The narrow belts prevent product slippage and movement that allows induction eyes to accurately track packages. They are a popular solution because they can use up to 75 percent less space than other sortation equipment.
Pusher sorters are right angle sorters that sort small to medium products. As items travel in front of the pusher, it extends sending the package into the divert lane. These sorters are a good solution because they can sort items that are difficult to convey due to their shape and save space with close divert centers.
Sweep sorter conveyors provide right-angle sortation for standard poly bags, blister packs, and other small packages. Bi-direction paddles are mounted above the conveyor and sweep the packages into a divert location. They work well for high-density destinations and e-commerce orders.
Belted Pivot Wheel Sorter
Also known as pop-up wheel sorters, belted pivot wheel sorters consist of two sets of wheels that pivot to divert the products. They are typically belt driven and are used for medium sized packages. The conveyors feature single or dual sided diverts and can accommodate close divert centers to maximize floor space.
This is just the “sort and sweet” of sortation conveyors and will give you a starting point for identifying a solution. For additional information on how sortation can be a valuable component to your material handling system, contact a Hytrol integration partner.
About the Author
Chris Bullard is a performance engineer with Hytrol. He has more than 10 years of experience with the company and can help advise on sortation solutions.