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Exacta Automated Order Routing

Automated Order Routing: A Keystone of Your Warehouse Control System

Mohammad Shaban | 16 February 2018

AOR Defined

Automated Order Routing (AOR) provides intelligence for the tracking of order fulfillment containers on a conveyor belt network to the correct work areas in a distribution center.  It communicates with the conveyor controls systems to gather barcode data and retrieves carton information from a database. AOR makes all routing decisions and gives the result to the control system to be executed. For example, as orders are released to the floor, AOR is releasing cartons out of a carton erector for picking and is responsible for the automated print and apply application of shipping labels or carton IDs (LPN). Starting from the top with the software interface, the routing software should work as a single point of communication to your host system or ERP. It should be capable of handling the transmission of data from any/all equipment on the floor back to the top (ERP/WMS), and back down for order fulfillment.

Key Features of an Automated Order Routing System

If you are like me, you may prefer one manufacturer over another, so the routing software must be hardware independent, able to work with any brand of conveyor, carton erectors, host software system, etc. It must also be modular in architecture because your problem is unique. You need a certain set of modules to control the equipment chosen to solve for this unique problem. Having a modular order routing software means you only pay for what you need. Adding a print and apply machine to add shipping labels before packages leave the building? Your routing software should be designed in a way that accommodates easy, less costly system expansions as your business evolves and demand increases. Having all this functionality is great, right? Along with the functionality you need to have visibility! Clear visibility to the work going on in all areas of your distribution facility with remote monitoring and built-in diagnostic tools with both graphics and reports. A user-friendly and intuitive, color-coded graphical interface can't hurt either, and should be custom built to depict the system you have implemented and have come to love. Additional key features include exception alerts to handle small problems before they have an opportunity to grow, real-time visibility to balance the workload, and tools set to monitor and track work flow and system up time while providing alerts to problems. I know I am throwing a lot at you here, so here is a quick break down of the things that can really propel your retail order fulfillment operation.

AOR Essentials for Retail Distribution

Smart Conveyor Automated Order Routing

  • Directs the flow of totes or cartons around the system, into designated pick zones, and on to packing.
  • Interfaces with the conveyor equipment controls through fixed scanners.
  • Provides container location information and overall system material flow.
  • Redirect order containers to other work areas in the warehouse if an inventory location has no inventory available for the order, or if it predicts a full lane condition.

Priority Routing

  • Preferences specific containers into queue on the conveyor system based on their priority level.
  • Allows early day freight carrier pickups to get through the system quicker.

Zone Preference 

  • Allows manual override of default zone routing sequence allowing specific orders a quicker path to pick zones.
  • Often used by supervisors to re-direct work into an under-utilized pick zone.

Order Pre-Scanning

  • A fixed scanner scans all incoming totes into a universal picking zone.
  • Allows the carousels to begin pre-positioning without having to individually scan in each tote manually.

Dynamic Lane Assignment

  • In Pack and Shipping area, the system recognizes the load in each of the lanes and equally distributes the workload between the lanes.

Sortation Control Utility

  • Sort code configuration: allows assignment of sort codes to various sortation lanes.  Find lane configured for the sort code to determine the packing and shipping lane destinations for the container.  The system also allows multiple lanes to accept the same pack or ship sort code name. Advanced sortation processes may call for more advanced functionality. Allows sortation to a truck route, product type, and then store location in a put to storage medium.

Proactive Monitoring Event Subscription Utility

Proactive monitoring event subscriptions and alerts for the following: Application Monitoring

  • Services Started/Ended
  • Applications Started/Ended
  • Automation Activity

PLC Monitoring

  • Faults
  • Estops
  • Read Rates
  • Jams

WCS Functionality & Performance

  • Scanner/Sorter Statistics
    • No Read Count
    • Divert Confirms
    • Full Lane Conditions
    • Milestones Reached
    • Absence of Activity
    • Read Rates

System Pacing

  • System behind schedule
  • Work area behind schedule

From intelligent modules, to proactive monitoring, and complete data visibility into your operations; Automated Order Routing is a software system that will be the keystone to holding your entire operation together. Learn more here: Exacta Software Suite or contact us. We would be happy to discuss how supply chain software can improve your operation.

Author: Mohammad Shaban

Mohammad is a logistics consultant with Bastian Solutions software division, based in Dallas, TX. He has worked for the company since 2011 and has a master’s degree in engineering management and a BS in Industrial Engineering from J.B. Speed School of Engineering (UofL).  Mohammad focuses on helping clients design and implement supply chain software solutions and maintains on-going customer relationships. 


Alicia Byrne says:
5/15/2020 11:40 PM

It's great that you mentioned that a good automated system should be designed in a way to accommodate system expansions as the business grows. My friend recently told me about automated warehouses and their rise in popularity in the market with their quicker and error-free sorting. I would imagine that it will be great if a business can invest in automated warehouses picking and sorting systems to grow their company.

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