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Some basic principles to consider when applying automatic sortation include:
- The product must be released through the scanning area and then into the divert zones m single file, with a gap between cartons sufficient for both the scan and the sort to take place. Depending upon the divert device and the way divert signals are read, the required gap can range from a few inches to a few feet. Careful engineering of the conveyor upstream of the sorter is required to achieve proper product induction.
- Careful consideration must be given to the required throughput of a sorter. Throughput impacts many things including the sortation device to use, the speed of the sorter, and the design of the conveyor upstream. Throughput is usually expressed in terms of required number of boxes per minute, and should account for surges and peaks.
- A decision must be made between positive and non-positive diverter technology. Generally, positive sortation devices use shoes, flippers, trays, or slats to "catch" product like a catcher's glove, and then positively push it through the correct door. Non-positive devices use pop-up belts, rollers, or wheels to change product flow. Positive sortation is recommended when high throughput is required (above 40 cartons per minute), or when wide varieties of weights and sizes must be sorted.
Pushers are an effective positive divert device that use a flat surface attached to an air cylinder to push product across a zone. Similarly, kickers are hinged devices that push to divert. Pushers and kickers can sort up to about 30 boxes per minute. They are relatively inexpensive compared to other devices, but require additional safety guarding to protect personnel. Contact Us to learn more about sortation conveyor solutions.