Home' MHD Supply Chain Solutions : MHD May-Jun 2015 Contents Automated conveyor sorting systems.
Automated conveyor sorting system options
range from pop-up wheel, pivot arm and sliding
shoe sorters for throughputs of up to 6,000-
8,000 packages per hour to cross-belt sorting
systems, which can process up to 20,000
thousand items per hour.
A key benefit of cross-belt sorting systems is
their ability to handle a wide range of products
from books, magazines and flat pack apparel
through to large goods weighing up to 50 kg.
As a result of the growth in ecommerce, the
volume of small packages being distributed
through the supply chain is constantly increas-
ing. Automated conveyor sorting systems, which
accurately and cost-effectively sort high volumes
of packages to a large number of sort destina-
tions, are being increasingly adopted not only
by clicks-and-mortar and pure-play online dis-
tributors, but also by many mail, package and
express courier services around the world.
Goods-to-person (GTP). With GTP, stock is
automatically delivered to picking stations in the
precise sequence required for order assembly
heavy items first, fragile items last, by family
group, or in whatever sequence needs dictate
ensuring rapid order fulfilment with high pro-
ductivity, accuracy and throughput rates.
Light-directed, one-to-two pick station config-
urations – in which a single stock tote and two
order totes are presented to the operator – elim-
inate time wasted waiting for stock and enable
multiple orders to be fulfilled concurrently.
Totes containing stock for orders are
delivered to pick stations by an automated
inventory buffer store, typically an automated
storage and retrieval system (ASRS), like
A single GTP system operator can achieve
very high pick rates of up to 1,000 items per
hour. A visual display of the product to be
picked and an integrated weigh-scale, which
checks expected weights, enhances accuracy
and ensures that any errors are identified and
The pick stations can also be used to replen-
ish the inventory buffer, enabling the topping up
of existing product totes. Staff work in parallel
at multiple picking stations, unaffected by each
other’s pace. Pick stations can be opened and
closed according to volumes, optimising pro-
ductivity and reducing labour costs in line with
seasonal and shift volume fluctuations.
With service level expectations rising, consum-
ers are becoming demanding to the point that
in some highly competitive sectors – such as
home entertainment, IT, fashion, sportswear and
equipment, gourmet foods, wine and liquor – it’s
no longer enough to put the product in a plain
cardboard carton and ship it to the customer on
time. The business must do more to delight and
keep the customer.
Value-added packing presents a valuable
opportunity to build brand and customer loyalty
and increases the likelihood of repeat business.
Examples include premium packaging and
the insertion into the package of marketing
materials like catalogues, promotional offers,
discount vouchers for future sales, special tags,
customised labels, gifts, product samples and
thank you cards.
System integration options to optimise
packing include automated carton formers,
lidding systems, invoice, shipping manifest, and
consignment note printers, void fill and carton
sealing systems, address label printing, carton
strapping and inline check-weighing systems.
Integrated warehouse control software (WCS)
interfaces with the user’s warehouse management
system (WMS) to manage loading and manifesting
of all shipments. With no paperwork, tasks includ-
ing reading and writing can be eliminated, improv-
ing the accuracy of despatch shipping applications
and reducing delivery vehicle loading times.
The WCS directs the loading and reverse-drop
sequencing of orders, and then ‘closes’ and certi-
fies loads on the delivery vehicle, improving order
assembly flexibility, and automatically generates
shipping manifests, order documentation, and
man and machine-readable labels, meeting all
ASN (Advanced Shipping Notice) requirements.
Package and pallet transport conveyor
systems can be integrated to deliver orders
direct to despatch docks, plus a range of roller
and belt conveyors, which can be extended
into delivery vehicles, enable fast, accurate,
For high-volume applications, conveyor
sortation systems automatically sort orders to
their required shipping lane, where they can
then be manually or automatically palletised
and staged for despatch, or loaded directly
into the delivery vehicle. Where more package
Voice directed pick to trolley.
Scanning shipper for track and trace.
MHD SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS — MAY / JUNE 2015
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