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Which Sortation Technology is Correct for Your Application?

Codi Wilson | 09 August 2017

When it comes to conveyor sortation technologies, there are plenty of options with improvements always on the horizon.

Sortation technology is commonly used in an automated order fulfillment process to sort collected items to one of many packing stations. Sorters may also be used to send completed orders to an end destination such as shipping stations or dock locations. There are many different technologies to choose from when selecting a sortation conveyor, and each solution should be compared to ensure that the correct sorter is used to meet your system needs.

Lower Throughput Sorters

Automated Pushers

One of the simplest ways to sort product is with the use of automated pushers.  A pusher typically consists of a static face and is actuated by a pneumatic or electric cylinder.  This technology is ideal for a low rate system, and where product is able to withstand the impact of the pusher.  Pushers are typically seen where just a few sort destinations are needed and a more advanced system is not required. Note: There are also high-speed pusher sorters. These are smaller pushers in a single line made for small, fast-moving, sturdy product.

Wheel Diverts

Wheel diverts are another technology used to sort product.  Wheel diverts can be used in many different styles of conveyors, such as in between motor driven roller sections, in between belt conveyors, and in between narrow belt strands.  This solution is best applied when there are a small number of sort destinations but more than what a pusher system can handle.

Higher Throughput Sorters

Activated Roller Belt

Activated Roller Belt (ARB) sorters are a newer technology that can sort a wide range of product.  Product is conveyed on a plastic belt that contains embedded rollers.  The rollers are activated from below and sort product left or right when activated.  ARB sorters can allow for very close sort centers and can achieve multiple sorts within a small footprint.  ARB sorters also allow a large range of product to be sorted, from cases to poly bags.

Shoe Sorters

Shoe sorters have been around for a long time and are continually being improved. In fact, we introduced our own Bastian Solutions' Conveyor shoe sorter earlier this year with several notable improvements over the industry standard models. Shoes sorters are a proven technology for sorting cases at high speeds.  Product is conveyed on slats, and a sliding shoe is actuated from left to right to push product off onto its destination.  Shoe sorters are ideal for high speed applications where there are many divert locations required.

Tilt Tray and Cross Belt Sorters

Tilt tray and cross belt sorters are a good solution for high speed sorting when product is not compatible with a shoe sorter. This often includes loose items or products with strings or straps that may get caught in the shoe sorter. Both technologies require a continuous loop conveyor system.  Tilt tray systems, as the name describes, will tilt trays toward the sort destination and product will slide off relying on gravity to complete the sort.  Cross belt sorters are very similar, but instead of relying on gravity, they actuate a belted surface and ensure that product is sorted at a designated speed.  Tilt tray and cross belt sorters offer the highest sort rate capability with the downside of requiring a loop system and a higher cost.

If sortation technology is something you are interested in for your order fulfillment operation, please contact us. With the ever-changing product landscape, our team would be happy to review your application and recommend the best sortation technology.

Author: Codi Wilson


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