E-commerce retail continues to grow. The first quarter of 2016 saw $92.8 billion in sales, representing a 15.2 percent increase from 2015 according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, marking the 26th straight quarter with year-over-year growth at or near 15 percent. This offers greater opportunity, but also real challenges - chief among which is meeting customer expectations through every step of the sales cycle. Distribution and fulfillment operations play an increasingly vital role in this paradigm, responsible for getting the right product to the right person at the right time.
Shoppers have high expectations for a seamless shopping experience and constantly search for retailers capable of providing the service levels they need at the best price. This speed and value duality is manifested in how shoppers approach shipping costs. According to the 2016 UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper study, 33 percent of shoppers cite speed of delivery as a reason they choose to buy from an online marketplace but 42 percent select economy delivery most often.
To find a decisive advantage and deliver the consistent speed and accuracy online shoppers crave at a competitive cost, material handling partners must innovate.
Enter dynamic discharge compensation (DDC).
DDC technology uses the same software and hardware that already exists on cross-belt sorters to unlock greater levels of accuracy to address the more complex product mix found in e-commerce. At the recent MODEX trade show in Atlanta, DDC won an MHI innovation award in the best innovation to an existing product category.
DDC uses a vision system and software algorithm to determine the most accurate discharge trajectory. It detects each item's exact size and location on the carrier belt and automatically adjusts discharge timing by a few milliseconds, yielding near-perfect 99.99 percent divert accuracy.
Minimal divert errors
DDC minimizes expensive divert errors that cause jams, missed chutes, recirculations and increased manual touchpoints. Accurate diverts go a long way to ensuring satisfied customers, by avoiding delays, missed shipments and incomplete orders - not to mention the costly, complicated returns process.
Increased chute density
Enhanced divert precision enables operations to increase chute density without risking a corresponding increase in productivity-sapping errors. This offers expanded operational capacity in a smaller footprint.
Reduced equipment wear
Most cross-belt sorters attempt to correct an improper induction by repositioning items closer to the center of the belt prior to discharge. Conversely, DDC only moves the belt for item discharge, improving energy efficiency and extending the life of motors, bearings and belt components. Additionally, the increased precision of DDC reduces impacts on chute sidewalls due to items traveling at an incorrect trajectory.
Optimized large-belt, single-carrier sorter configurations
With DDC, large sorters can perform double duty. This means that larger items can be moved on one side and smaller items on the other, effectively raising system capacity. A double belt can even be configured to carry larger items in one direction while simultaneously carrying items in the opposite direction, as illustrated below.
For more information, read the full white paper, Precise cross-belt sortation: Unlocking efficient e-commerce distribution by Satyen Pathak, senior product manager.