Conveyor & Sortation Basics
Everything you need to know about the easiest way to improve fulfillment efforts.
Moving totes & cartons at a higher speed have never been easier than with a conveyor system. Whether you need powered conveyors, gravity conveyors, this solution will help you push more inventory out the door at a quicker and more efficient pace than ever before.
A conveyor is the type of fulfillment solution that can give a facility the push it needs to get over the hill. Technology has advanced in recent years, and systems can be tailored to fit the needs of your distribution process and business challenges.
By decreasing reliance on human labor to move products within a facility, these systems can also reduce the amount of time in the pick process. Automated conveyor solutions also allow distribution centers to include Value-Added Services (VAS), such as coupons, magazines, or marketing pieces, into the fulfillment process.
With increased speeds, safety, and the ability to catch flawed products, this dynamic solution can be the right choice if you want to take the next step in optimizing your warehouse’s workflow. We know that each facility is unique, and each of our clients and partners has its own specific needs.
Our team of experts has decades of experience in implementing these solutions for material handling needs. With our “Simple, Smart, Strategic” approach, we can help facilitate cutting-edge strategies for delivering success to your customers. We can work with you to develop a long-term plan that can be dynamic, with room to grow as your business grows.
Improving Productivity: Installing these systems allow your employees to quickly move product throughout the facility as opposed to walking it over to the desired location.
Quality Assurance: Conveyors can be easily visible throughout your facility, enabling more employees to notice possible defects in totes.
Safety: With employees not manually moving totes around the facility, this decreases the amount of foot traffic that can get in the way of machinery such as forklifts, reach trucks, etc.
Gravity conveyors utilize the power of gravity to move packages along the fulfillment line. Gravity conveyors typically are height-adjustable to create a slight decline along the line to allow packages to gravity flow along rollers or skate wheels. This conveyance style is ideal for warehouses and production lines in loading/unloading areas, picking environments, and packing locations.
Because gravity conveyors utilize non-powered rollers or skate wheels, they are ideal for moving lightweight cartons, trays, or totes short distances in a facility. Sometimes referred to as “gravity roller conveyors,” these can be combined with powered versions to create energy-saving “flow systems” in distribution and fulfillment centers.
Powered conveyors are systems that function with a mechanical device that moves products and materials along a conveyor line. At a high level, there are two types of powered conveyors – roller & belt. Powered conveyors support fulfillment operations by minimizing the work required to move loads from one location to another. Each section – straight, curved, or transfer units – can be independently controlled and managed. This conveyance style can be adjusted to support different load types, improve throughput, and reduce fulfillment costs.
With a powered roller conveyor, a motorized chain or belt provides the drive system to allow products to travel along evenly distributed rollers. Sometimes referred to as “live roller conveyors,” this solution is used for many different applications from moving small parcels all the way to pallets of product.
Powered belt conveyors utilize a motor drive & pulley system that drives a belt so it moves along a section of the conveyor. The products then sit on the belt & move through the system as the belt moves. A powered belt conveyor is typically used to move smaller & lighter loads.
Motorized Driven Roller (MDR) conveyors provide a “green” alternative to most powered conveyors. Instead of a few high voltage motors driving the rollers, the system is outfitted with several smaller, lower voltage motors to move products along the conveyor line. The result gives the system the ability to “power down” segments of the conveyor if they are not moving packages. This ‘run-on-demand’ feature offers the benefits of a quiet operation with lower energy consumptions.
MDR conveyors are easily reconfigurable and modular, with pre-engineered segments designed to facilitate straight movement, inclines/declines, merges, diverts, transfers, and sort stations. These bi-directional systems can facilitate the accumulation of products without bumping, clustering, or jamming the conveyor line. MDR conveyors are also low maintenance and can boast high rates of throughput.
Vertical Reciprocating Conveyors (VRCs) are typically utilized in facilities with multiple levels of storage where materials need to flow up or down vertically, depending on picking or replenishment activities. They offer material lift efficiencies by providing quick conveyance of products from mezzanines, pick modules, and other multiple-level environments.
Like other conveyor systems, VRCs can be custom-designed for optimal efficiency based on the facilities’ needs. They are economical solutions to move materials between levels without the footprint required of a solution like powered or gravity conveyors. They can also be installed to fit currently existing storage configurations.
In a warehouse setting, sortation involves identifying products on a line and redirecting the item to a specific location based on a set of criteria and managed by specialty software. In high-volume distribution centers, automated sortation solutions can be added to conveyors to support quicker and more accurate fulfillment. There are several types of sortation solutions to consider, with several classes that satisfy different system requirements. To find the best sortation solution for your operation, we suggest connecting with a Storage Solutions expert to make sure you are using the best option for your needs.
It’s no secret that labor challenges are affecting many companies. With the latest advancements in technology, labor issues don’t have to slow down your operation. In fact, the right combination of systems can set you up to run more efficiently, while also being less reliant on manual labor.
With Storage Solutions as a partner, we will help you determine the best fit for you operation. Whether you are looking to make the picking process more accurate or increase overall productivity, we have the knowledge and experience to help you get it done.