Executive Briefings

Deploying Small-Item Sortation

Small-item fulfillment continues to grow, especially with e-commerce orders, but a lot of traditional sortation technology was never designed to handle smaller and lighter pieces, says John Park, product manager, Accu-Sort Systems.

A typical scenario involves fulfilling orders of items too lightweight for the systems in place. Such items may defeat the sortation plan when they fail to be diverted properly.

That's why systems need to be specifically designed for such items, Park says, but only if they are in sufficient quantity. The threshold question for any facilities manager is whether there are a sufficient number of small items to justify the investment in the needed sortation equipment. Manual sortation is fine when the number of small or lightweight items in an order is not that great.

Jewelry, for example, may come in very tiny boxes or even in plastic bags. Less than two inches by two inches and basically flat, a package containing a pair of earrings can be sorted separately by hand if that doesn't impede the operation of the fulfillment house. That becomes impossible when the number of such items climbs, and that's happening more and more with e-commerce orders, Park says.

Capacity varies greatly, but if the sortation operation involves "like" items of approximately the same size and weight, throughput can range from 200 to 500 items a minute, Park says. But that can drop to as low as 50 a minute when sizes and weights vary a great deal.

To view video in its entirety, click here


Keywords: inventory management systems, logistics IT solutions, warehouse management systems, retail supply chain, wms warehouse management systems, logistics & supply chain, value chain IT, supply chain management IT, fulfilling small-item orders

A typical scenario involves fulfilling orders of items too lightweight for the systems in place. Such items may defeat the sortation plan when they fail to be diverted properly.

That's why systems need to be specifically designed for such items, Park says, but only if they are in sufficient quantity. The threshold question for any facilities manager is whether there are a sufficient number of small items to justify the investment in the needed sortation equipment. Manual sortation is fine when the number of small or lightweight items in an order is not that great.

Jewelry, for example, may come in very tiny boxes or even in plastic bags. Less than two inches by two inches and basically flat, a package containing a pair of earrings can be sorted separately by hand if that doesn't impede the operation of the fulfillment house. That becomes impossible when the number of such items climbs, and that's happening more and more with e-commerce orders, Park says.

Capacity varies greatly, but if the sortation operation involves "like" items of approximately the same size and weight, throughput can range from 200 to 500 items a minute, Park says. But that can drop to as low as 50 a minute when sizes and weights vary a great deal.

To view video in its entirety, click here


Keywords: inventory management systems, logistics IT solutions, warehouse management systems, retail supply chain, wms warehouse management systems, logistics & supply chain, value chain IT, supply chain management IT, fulfilling small-item orders