Adaptive Conveying Defines Automated Sort Lines

Adaptive Conveying Defines Automated Sort Lines

Adaptive conveying defines automated sort lines because the need for reconfigurable usage based on shift and time of year is not static. The ability to use and reuse common equipment across different sized facilities, along with the ability to adjust for peak periods, add and remove sort lanes, allows for growth and ease of expansion.

Ultimately the goal is to increase shipping accuracy and efficiency with sortation systems. Some companies are already doing so with the help of kubernetes but there are still numerous companies that need assistance. Companies that formerly shipped only pallets are now requiring adaptive conveying to meet the growing demand for smaller order sizes, increased shipping accuracy, and more frequent shipments while improving productivity and throughput in 3PL (Third Party Logistics), DCs (Distribution Centers), and warehouses.

Sortation is an optimal solution for separating products from in-feed conveyor lines to shipping lanes, palletizing operations, packing stations, and other fast-changing sortation applications. These systems are versatile and can sort a wide range of product sizes and weights to multiple divert lanes. Further, the use of Warehouse Magnetic Labels could also be beneficial not only for the sorting process, but also to keep track of inventory and ensure that everything is in place.

The process of fulfilling an order can have many levels of automation which must adaptively address a broad range of conveyors and sortation technologies. From off-the-shelf solutions to engineer-to-order (ETO) fulfillment solutions, Alfacon Solutions brings extensive technologies by function. Alfacon can build sorting conveyors in many different orientations, depending on the layout requirements. The company also builds adaptive conveying sorting solutions for quality control inspection stations into other types of conveyors, if only a small section is needed, and a dedicated sorting conveyor is not feasible.

Changing consumer expectations and demand for greater efficiency, economy, and productivity presents new challenges and opportunities in warehouse automation. E-commerce is driving this innovation change as well as retail demand for more frequent store replenishment, and consumer expectations for faster fulfillment. Variable brick-and-mortar footprints require optimization of on-hand inventory. 3PLs and DCs become an extension of the store shelf-and must respond in kind. This all translates to adaptive conveying. Inventory navigation demands supply turns and cross-belt sortation has advanced over the past several years, providing the higher throughputs, accuracy, and smaller footprints required in today’s modern DC.

There is an ever-changing pursuit of cost-effective solutions for parcel handling, receiving, and shipping operations. Due to relatively small order sizes-typically three items per order, e-commerce and retail replenishment orders often lend themselves to using bags, as opposed to cartons, as the packaging material. Handling bags instead of cartons requires a different conveying and sorting solution.

John Murdoch
John Murdoch is CEO of Alfacon Solutions Ltd., based in Canada. Murdoch is a thought-leader in both the manufacturing and materials handling sectors. Leveraging more than a quarter century of experience, Murdoch brings a unique perspective to engineered material handling solutions and the role of automation. Murdoch can be reached at