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Guide to Sortation Conveyor Systems

Modern sortation looks dramatically different than the manual processes that dominated warehouses just a few decades ago. These days, advanced conveyor systems are capable of automatically sorting a variety of items, including small, fragile, and oddly-shaped objects.

Strategically designed sortation conveyors provide a myriad of benefits for today's warehousing operations, including:

  • Cost savings. High-end systems make it possible to bypass time-consuming manual processes, so operation-wide efficiency can increase significantly when a sortation system is implemented.
  • Scalability. With conveyor-based systems, it's possible to significantly increase order volume in a short amount of time without increasing the amount of labor required. As such, companies equipped with sortation conveyors can easily handle seasonal ebbs and flows.

Given the vast range of applications that use conveyors, it's important to understand how they work and how they can be customized to help you find the best solution that’s right for your business. Contact Warehouse1 to see how our experts can work with your team to create a custom solution.

Large sorting conveyor system with many packages on it

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Types of Sortation Conveyor Technologies

Customization can produce a higher return on investment by ensuring that each system is capable of meeting the unique needs of the company it serves. To that end, it’s important to get a sense of the myriad of different solutions that are currently available. The following are among the most common:

Tilt Tray Sorter

As its name suggests, this high-speed sortation solution relies on the strategic use of a tray, which can be tilted to allow objects to slide easily into chutes. This is a great option for items that typically pose significant sorting challenges. Irregularly shaped objects, for example, can easily be handled by tilt tray systems without compromising workflow.

Tilt tray sorter sliding boxes into chutes

Narrow Belt

Typically featuring multiple belts, this type of conveyor system most frequently transfers small items, which can be handled without requiring significant amounts of force. Smaller facilities often look to narrow belt operations as viable space-saving solutions, as they can be placed near — or even directly next to — each other. This approach can also be financially advantageous, as narrow belts are among the most affordable conveyors to implement.

Narrow belt conveyor sorting multiple boxes

Sliding Shoe

Sometimes referred to as a slat sorter, this high volume, high-efficiency system may not be the most adaptable option on this list — but the tradeoff involves impressive throughput. Featuring a long, straight design, the sorter uses a series of slats to keep products moving. Small channels are situated between these slats, with features known as sliding shoes moving across the slats to divert products as needed.

Sliding shoe conveyor sorting multiple packages

Pop-Up Wheel

Flexibility is the name of the game for pop-up wheel sortation systems. Also known as strip belt sorters, these systems add rows of wheels to the divert points on belt conveyors. These wheels can (as the name indicates) pop up when needed to transfer items to other conveyors. Pop-up wheel systems are easy and affordable to implement, but they are best saved for uniform products, as well as tasks that require low or moderate throughput.

Pop up wheels sorting a box

Advantages of These Systems

Top conveyor sortation benefits and applications can vary somewhat from one industry or environment to the next. Below, we've highlighted a few of the main situations in which sortation conveyor systems prove valuable — and why they make a difference:

  • Distribution centers. Conveyor systems lie at the heart of modern distribution centers, where they allow for efficient sortation to meet the high expectations of today's consumers. Automated solutions can free up a significant amount of floor space, which can then be dedicated to other important applications.
  • e-Commerce. The lightning pace of the modern e-Commerce industry means that extreme efficiency is required in warehousing environments — but flexibility is also critical while dealing with a wide range of product shapes and sizes. Both advantages are simultaneously available, thanks to today's customized conveyor systems.
  • Pharmaceuticals. While accuracy is crucial in every industry, it's particularly vital in the pharmaceutical sector, where there is absolutely no room for error. Automated sortation systems boost both accuracy and safety by limiting the potential for cross-contamination between products or batches.
  • Food handling. Hygiene and safety are of the utmost importance for effective food sortation. Advanced conveyor systems can handle a high throughput of food products while maintaining rigid food handling standards as well as an impressive degree of accuracy.

Warehouse1’s Custom Conveyor Sorting Systems Solutions

Innovative warehouse conveyor solutions provide a significant edge in a competitive, fast-paced market. At Warehouse1, we are committed to remaining at the forefront of sortation technology. Contact us today to learn more about our customized conveyor systems.


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