Sortation conveyors are used to direct products from one conveyor line to another. These conveyors integrate an induction system, system merges, and sortation diverts. These are tailored to each operation in order to properly identify, track and transport products to expedite the order fulfillment process.
How Sortation Conveyors Work
Sortation conveyors are best suited for high throughput operations that require products to flow to numerous locations. This type of conveyor also helps increase productivity while saving the cost on labor.
There are a variety of sortation technologies used in today’s distribution centers. The type of sorter that will be ideal for your application will depend on the size and weight of your product and the required throughput.
Continue reading to learn more about the advantages sortation conveyors can offer you along with the different types of sortation conveyors available. Each option's functions are different from one another and each is built to suit different applications.
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Advantages of a Sortation Conveyor
With several sortation conveyor types available, advantages may vary depending on the type. The overall benefits sortation conveyors can offer are:
Decreases labor costs.
With the use of sortation conveyors, less employees are needed on site at a time.
Increases product throughput rates.
Employees can focus on other tasks while the conveyor sorts product, resulting in faster product throughput and overall efficiency.
Noise levels range from low to silent.
All sortation belts range from low noise to completely silent.
Sortation coneyors will be useful when transporting fragile products.
Relatively low maintenance required.
Sortation conveyors do not require constant maintenance, making it a cost-effective option.
Types of Sortation Conveyors
If you are interested in implementing a sortation conveyor into your operation, there a several options to choose from. Read below to get a more thorough understanding of how each sortation conveyor type works.
Shoe sorters offer a quick and smooth product sortation. This belt is low maintenance and silent.
How It Works
Shoe sorters support products on tubes or slats, and a “shoe” positively diverts product to either side of the sorter by sliding across the tubes or slats. They can exceed rates of over 250 cartons per minute.
Operations should consider a shoe sorter when:
- Sorting fragile product.
- Sorting product that often vary in size and weight.
Right Angle Transfers
Right angle transfers can transport a large range of product sizes and weights while offering fast throughput rates. In addition, this belt is a good option if transporting fragile items.
How It Works
Right angle transfers provide high throughput for operations requiring product transfer and divert. They utilize a transfer head to push the product off a conveyor onto a perpendicular or parallel conveyor.
The best applications for a right angle transfer sorter are:
- Pallet applications.
- Transfer of product onto non-power conveyor.
- Transfer of product onto parallel conveyors when only one device is desired.
- Transporting fragile products.
Narrow Belt (Strip Belt Sorters)
Narrow belt sorters are a silent belt option that offers operations a fast throughput rate, being able to transport product at speeds of up to 300 ft. per minute. They also tend to be low-cost in comparison to other sortation conveyors.
How It Works
Narrow belt sorters are designed with multiple narrow belts that transport product. Once the product reaches the divert point, wheels rise up between the belts to accurately move product at a 30 to 90-degree angle down the divert lane.
The best use of a narrow belt sorter is operations that:
- Transfer small to medium-size items to multiple points within the distribution center.
- Are looking to split up product within the conveyor belt.
- One example is to divert product to packing stations.
Cross-belt sorters are high speed conveyors that are easy to integrate into a pre-existing warehouse. They are also ideal for a number of applications.
How It Works
Cross-belt sorters are high speed loop sorters that utilize a series of small individual belted trays. They are activated when an item needs to divert off of one conveyor onto another at a 90-degree angle. The configuration of the cross belt sorter can either be in a straight line or in a loop. These sorters can process from 60-500 parts per minute.
Consider a cross-belt sorter when:
- Transporting and sorting items in totes, containers, and bins.
- Sorting small, irregular shaped product that are difficult to sort such as:
Pop-Up Wheel Sorters
Pop-up wheel sorters provide sorter lengths that are unlimited, with rates that can exceed 80 cartons per minute.
How It Works
Pop-up wheel sorters utilize belt conveyors with added rows of angled wheels at divert areas. These wheels pop-up in order to direct each load to its required route. Since good friction between the product and wheels is required, carton quality and product type must be factored when considering this technology
Some of the best applications for pop-up wheel sorters are:
- Sorting of small products in cartons
- Sorting product to be packed for shipment
Arm or Pusher Sytle Sorters
Arm/Pusher style sorters are a high speed sorting option. They are often used to sort small product.
How It Works
Arm/Pusher sorters divert products onto chutes that are 90-degrees from the sorting conveyor at rates up to 120 items per minute. These conveyors often utilize a modular plastic belt with a pusher mechanism. As the product moves in front of the divert lane, the pusher extends to quickly send the product down the desired divert lane.
You should consider an arm/pusher style sorter when you are:
- Sorting small, irregular shaped items that can be difficult to transport on other types of sortation conveyors.
- Sorting cosmetics.
- Sorting pharmaceuticals.
Tilt Tray Sorters (Loop Sorters)
Tilt tray sorters offer a low noise solution for sorting product. These conveyors are a good choice for operations with multiple sort locations. They offer gentle transportation which allows for sortation of fragile product.
How It Works
Tilt tray sorters are high speed, continuous loop conveyor that sorts a variety of mixed shaped and sized items at the same time. These conveyors utilize a tilting a tray at divert points to slide each item onto an appropriate chute. Expedite the order fulfillment process by consolidating product orders for shipment and process returned products.
Tilt tray sorters can offer the most benefit to operations that are looking to sort:
- Items that are able to flow off the tray by gravity such as totes and cartons.
- Small items like jewelry and pharmaceuticals.
Your Next Steps for a Sortation Conveyor
Now that you have a better understanding of sortation conveyors, please consider contacting a REB professional today. Whether you are certain which type of sortation conveyor is right for you, or if you need more guidance, REB experts are here to help.
REB is a highly experienced systems integrator, in business since 1962. REB currently has 17 in-house project managers and engineers, all highly experienced in the material handling industry. These professionals know this industry inside and out.
We’d appreciate the opportunity to help you further, whether that be more information or a quote. Fill in the contact form on this page or call us at (800) 252-5955 to get in touch with a REB representative.