What We’ve Learned: Best Practices in E-Commerce Transport
We’ve discussed before how important it is to create a material handling solution that can convey products for both in-store and online retail efforts. Online shopping may have changed the industry, but in-store sales are still an important piece of the puzzle for many retailers, and it’s important to these customers to have a solution that provides both.
Working in the field on solutions for both large and small distribution centers, we’ve emerged with best practices that are important when creating these solutions. From transport to scanning, these best practices will allow your distribution and fulfillment operations to run smoothly.
Transporting items from Point A to Point B is a primary function of any conveyor. Transport conveyors for parcel handling are specifically designed to smoothly carry a variety of product where customers need it to go.
Consider the product
The first rule of material handling is to always consider the product. You might be tempted to go with the solution that requires the least energy or horsepower, but if you’re conveying both cartons and poly-bags, that just won’t work. Monitor the variances in the shapes, sizes, weights and weight distribution of the product you’re conveying, and build your solution around the most irregular. Roller conveyor can be utilized for many products, but if you have any items that won’t convey on them, you can help avoid jams and downtime by utilizing a belt solution.
Check for physical reactions
In addition, check for irregular products that may physically react with the solution you’re looking at. For instance, if you’ll be shipping magnets, that will need to be considered when looking at the material your conveying equipment is comprised of. If it’s metal, you won’t have much luck getting those magnets through.
Eliminate catch points
To keep product running smoothly on your solution, make sure you eliminate any catch points, and focus on guarding. Irregular products are prone to catching on these points or getting caught in gaps. You must take even the smallest opening off of the table if you don’t want interruptions in your flow.
Create smooth transitions
In addition, create smooth transitions from conveyor to conveyor. Consider placing the start of the connecting conveyor slightly below the outfeed of the first so that product won’t be caught in the gaps between conveyors.
Learn more about best practices in the e-commerce boom. Download the free whitepaper.
About the Author
Chuck Waddle is Hytrol's Vice President of Business Development, a position in which he helps establish Hytrol's place in the material handling industry. He's been in the material handling industry for more than 35 years.