Use Packaging Types to Guide Sortation Choices
There are many compelling reasons to consider automated sortation solutions, especially in today’s changing market. These include the rapid volume growth spurred by e-commerce, consolidating facilities, mainstreaming of processes, business acquisitions or simply a need to become more efficient.
Even if you have a specific solution in mind, there are several significant factors to be considered when choosing the “mission-critical” solution for your sortation system. In many cases, success or failure may lie in whether or not you’ve selected the right system for the product you need to handle.
Match your technology to the items you handle
Not every facility sorts similar items, and every sortation technology is not necessarily ideal for all types of items. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
When choosing the right automated sortation system for your operation, some factors to consider include:
- Types of items to be sorted (corrugated carton, totes, polybags, bubble mailers, loose items, etc.)
- Item packaging type(s) (corrugate, shrink-wrap cases, bagged apparel, apparel on hangers, etc.)
- Item diversity (50 percent corrugated carton, 25 percent bagged apparel, etc.)
- Item structural integrity (how rigid and predictable the structure of the items is)
Sorting out your handling requirements
Aspects such as size, weight, balance or shape of product to be sorted may rule out certain sortation technologies. For example, if you’re moving items that weigh more than 70 pounds, you’ll need a solution that can handle heavy objects, such as a sliding shoe sorter or possibly even a pallet transfer system. If you’re seeing an increasing number of polybags, you may want to consider adding a vision element to your sortation conveyor systems to find and scan barcodes.
Another consideration when selecting an automated sortation system is the 80/20 rule. That is, choose equipment that is capable of transporting or sorting 80 percent of the products you need to get out the door or through a return system. This is especially important if you can only invest in one or two pieces of equipment.
Packaging integrity of the items, such as “perfect presentation” needs and durability concerns from reproduced packaging, must also be considered.
Design for diversity
Since most applications don’t handle a single item type, it’s important to recognize when a system must accommodate a wide range of items. The more types your system can handle, the fewer non-conveyables there will be, increasing facility efficiency and shortening the payback of your investment. Therefore, when making your selection, take your entire product mix — including both present and future needs — into account.
See your options in action
Honeywell Intelligrated sortation systems are equipped to handle packaging types ranging from eaches to large, heavy cartons. Watch them sort packages of all shapes and sizes.