The vertical sorter is a highly versatile piece of equipment that can play a critical role in enhancing the overall operation of an automated storage and retrieval system or assume the role of a small footprint ASRS for the purposes of a sequencing and accumulating goods in preparation for another stage of operation.

When a vertical sorter used in conjunction with a one level shuttle ASRS or 3D shuttle ASRS,  it can be used to move inventory (cartons and totes) to and from system in feed or out feed points and into and out of the various levels of storage that make up the ASRS. By picking up and dropping off inventory to specific levels within an ASRS, a vertical sorter allows the shuttles servicing those levels to then move the inventory to and from individual storage positions.


A vertical sorter picks up inventory from a centralized conveyor in feed which it will then deliver to specific levels of the shuttle ASRS it services.

In addition, a vertical sorter can also be used to move ASRS shuttle vehicles between the various levels of an automated storage and retrieval system in systems that might not have a dedicated shuttle for every level of the system.

Vertical Sorter Technical Details

Also known as a vertical lift, or vertical reciprocating conveyor (VRC), the vertical sorter is configured around a fixed vertical mast that serves as the track for the load handling device.  A motorized lift, incorporating precision drive components controlled by either a servo motor or a variable frequency drive (VFD) (depending on the application), precisely moves the load handling device along the vertical beam.

The smooth glide, precise positioning control, and rapid acceleration of the vertical sorter enables the efficient and gentle movement of goods between the levels of whatever system the lift services.

Vertical sorters can be equipped with a variety of load handling devices that enable the efficient and reciprocal exchange of goods between levels.

Load handling devices can use telescoping plates, belts, conveyors, or arms to move goods in and out of storage positions or an adjacent conveyor system.

Vertical sorter from Invata Intralogistics.

Vertical sorters are often used in groupings.

Vertical sorter load handling device

A vertical sorter load handling device uses telescoping, reciprocating plates to load and unload totes to and from a shuttle ASRS.

Vertical sorters are capable of handling up to four cartons at 55 pounds each or two totes at 110 pounds each at a time for a total payload of 220 pounds, and can sort each item to any level of the automated storage and retrieval system. Vertical sorters are capable of executing up to 200 cycles per hour and are often used in groupings to accommodate greater throughput for an ASRS operation.

When used in groupings, vertical sorters provide a redundancy not found in other systems such as a paternoster type lift. When a paternoster goes off line, so too do the systems it services, but when vertical lifts are used in groupings, one or even two going offline will not shut down an operation.

Benefits of a Vertical Sorter:

The vertical sorter can be used:

  • To sort inventory to and from system in feeds/out feeds into and out of ASRS storage levels.
  • To move ASRS shuttles between levels within the ASRS.
  • As a small footprint ASRS with random input/output for the purposes of accumulation and as a sequence buffer.
  • As a merge for collecting from different levels of an ASRS shuttle system or from a conveyor system.
  • As a vertical conveyor when space is limited.
Vertical sorter payload

A vertical sorter load handling device simultaneously removes two totes from a shelf, which can be randomly delivered to another level or adjacent conveyor system.

Vertical Sorter Integration Considerations

vertical sorter and mast

The vertical sorter is comprised of a fixed mast and motor controlled load handling device.

Of equal importance to the performance of a vertical sorter is the warehouse management system (WMS) and warehouse control system (WCS) software used to integrate an vertical sorter into an intralogistics system. Invata’s own FastTrak® warehouse execution software is a key asset to achieving optimal performance for vertical sortation systems of all types.

To learn more about what an Invata vertical sorter can do for your operation, contact us. We’ll be happy to share more about our rich history of employing vertical sorter technology to enhance ASRS operational productivity.

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