Robotic sortation systems are automated sorting machines that use robotics. Automated sortation systems can take many forms, including using a series of conveyor belts and carousels to move items around the warehouse to sort them into specific carts, bins, or other containers.
Robotic sorts can vary significantly based on size and capability. Companies can install a system in a simple warehouse or distribution center, and larger warehouses can have more robotic sorters integrated into the entire facility.
There are many robotic sortation systems on the market. Tray sorters use slides, belts, or other moving parts to push boxes or trays into stationary or mobile carts. These robotic sorts are common in warehouses with smaller items. Tray sorters can also sort high volumes of trays and other containers into a specific cart, which is perfect for businesses handling large amounts of packaging materials during their day-to-day operations.
Carousel robotic sorting systems can work with larger cart-based robotic sorts. Carousel robotic sorters are designed for warehouses that handle a lot of material. Carousels rotate and move items to the sortation area, where they will be packed into carts by robotic arms located on top of the carousel.
Robotic sortation systems combine robotics, conveyance, vision, and other advanced technology. Some automated sortation systems work with autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to pick up items off a conveyor belt. These systems typically leverage vertical space, reducing the amount of needed floor space in the warehouse.
Robotic sortation provides many benefits to warehouses and distribution centers. They are efficient and make large-scale, complex tasks simpler to manage. Some of the functions they enable include picking items off a conveyer belt or from an individual bin. In addition, these sortation systems can be paired with vision to perform quality inspections and alert when there is a defect.
Further, sorting items in a warehouse or distribution center is repetitive, and mistakes can be costly. Employees can only sort one item at a time, using significantly more effort to pick up each item from the conveyor belt than robotic sorts do. In addition, labor shortages have caused strain for large warehouses requiring tens of thousands of orders to be sorted per day.
Companies should consider multiple factors for robotic sorts to be effective in warehouses and distribution centers. First, companies should thoughtfully plan volume, space, and ergonomics. It may take several months to multiple years to install a solution, so companies need to know the volume of items, parts, or products to sort and how that will scale over time. Companies should work with experienced integrators to plan an end-to-end automation solution that includes the technology they need for success.
In addition, robotic sorting doesn't work well if there is not enough space in a warehouse. Companies need to install their sortation system in an area with enough space for the robotic arm(s) and conveyor belts. There should also be enough room to install carts or output bins where items are packed into boxes before being shipped out.
Lastly, companies should consider ergonomics when determining if robotic sorts are a good fit. If robotic arms need to lift heavy loads, manufacturers should ensure employees stay clear of the area.
JR Automation has the experience to create and install the robotic sortation system that meets the unique needs of any warehouse. We specially designed our RFSS for material handling tasks like picking up items off a conveyor belt or moving boxes around in an assembly line. JR Automation works with vendors and our in-house engineers to plan an efficient solution for any warehouse layout and the volume of products, parts, or components needed to be sorted within a warehouse.
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