Sortation systems offer a highly accurate and efficient means of sorting, routing, consolidating, and diverting a wide range of parcel types to unique destinations for the purposes of order selection, processing, packaging, palletizing, storing, and shipping.

A critical component of any omni-channel fulfillment center design, distribution center design, warehouse design, or warehouse automation operation, sortation systems, can transport parcels ranging in shape, weight, and size from sheets of paper to fully loaded pallets — at speeds up to 20,000 parcels per hour.

Sortation systems are comprised of several sub systems working together under the direction of a warehouse execution system or warehouse control system and machine controllers.  These subsystems include:

  • Merge, whether manual or automated.
  • Induction, which is spacing, identification, and tracking.
  • The sortation conveyor itself, available in a variety of forms.
  • Post sortation conveyors, chutes, or drops.

Sortation Systems Types:

Sortation systems generally fall into two groupings: Linear sortation systems and looped sortation systems.

Linear sortation systems or Line Sorters, as the name implies, sort in a straight line. These sortation systems induct product at one end and move them along their length, diverting them to one or both sides depending on the type of unit along the way. Line sorters can be either chain or belt driven and have diverting mechanisms that are ether integrated into the sortation conveyor or mounted to it. These sortation systems include:

Sortation Systems - Narrow Belt Sorter

Narrow Belt Sorter with 30-degree pop-up wheel diverts.

Loop sortation systems, or circle sorters, as they are also known, can be configured with tight radius curves to maximize space and conform to facility limitations. Looped sortation systems typically are comprised of a series of cells linked together on a track.  Product is inducted onto these cells either manually or automatically at any place along the conveyor system.  Product can be identified by either scanning it as it travels along the conveyor or associating it with a particular induction station, as is the case in many distribution systems.  Once the cell and associated inventory arrive at a divert location, the divert mechanism on the loop sortation system is actuated, sending the inventory to the associated location.  These sortation systems include:

Sortation Systems - Cross-Belt Sorter

Cross-Belt Sorter aka Loop sorter.

Sortation Systems Configuration / Integration Considerations

Invata sortation systems are used by organizations needing reliable, high-speed unit and parcel sortation.  The sortation systems solutions used in Invata built warehouse automation systems are primarily chosen and configured based on the requirements of the parcels to be transported and the speeds at which they must travel, but a variety of other factors come into play with sortation systems, including facility configuration, space limitations, maintenance requirements, durability, adaptability, operating costs, financial justification and expected ROI.

Sortation System - Sortation Conveyor - Invata Intralogistics

Sortation system featuring sliding shoe sorter built by Invata Intralogistics.

Availability, accuracy, longevity, and 24/7/365 support are of the utmost importance when it comes to choosing a sortation system for a particular operation.

Sortation Systems - Narrow Belt Sorter 90Degree

Narrow belt sorter 90 degree uses pop-up rollers to divert parcels at right angles to the flow of the conveyor.

Of equal importance is the warehouse execution software or  warehouse management system and warehouse control system used to integrate a sortation system conveyor into an intralogistics system. Invata’s own FastTrak® WES software suite is a key asset to achieving optimal performance for sorters of all types.

Invata’s high-rate sortation systems also feature visualization software, that acts a centralized monitoring system incorporating the entirety of the merge, induction, sorting, and takeaway subsystems. As a component of Invata’s warehouse software, our visualization software provides critical oversight access to hardware status, diagnostics, and system performance.

Invata designs and builds a complete line of sortation systems needed for the diverse handling and high capacity demands of today’s warehouse automation systems. We are experts in the deployment of all types of sortation systems, incorporating purpose built software and controls that optimize fulfillment and distribution operations.

To learn more about what Invata sortation systems can do for your operation, contact us, and we’ll be happy to share more about our rich history of employing sorting technology to enhance operational productivity.

Sortation System featuring Bomb Bay Sorter

This Bomb Bay Sorter, also known as a Flat Sorter or Loop Sorter sortation system, drops product into collection totes directly below the conveyor.

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