Five Benefits of On-Demand Polybag Sorters in a Post Pandemic World
While the need for small parcel sorting automation was already increasing with the rise in e-commerce in recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic put this need into overdrive. According to The Power Transmission Distributor Association (PTDA), there is an expected 8.6% growth in unit material handling in 2021. This indicates that distribution centers will need to work faster and more efficiently in order to keep up.
In addition to using automation in order to keep up with the increasing demands placed on the unit material handling industry, there are many other benefits of automated conveying to consider. But first, let’s get an understanding of what is meant by an on-demand polybag sorter, also known as a modular sortation system.
What is an On-Demand Polybag Sorter?
The exponential growth of e-commerce means distribution centers are now tasked with sorting a wider variety of package types, from boxes to polybags to jiffies to flats. As they sort this variety of package types, they will need to obtain a lower cost per sort and reduce the number of mis-sorted items. Distribution center managers need new solutions to adapt to changing trends and to increase efficiency and productivity. One solution includes leveraging automated sortation systems, such as an on-demand polybag sorter, to reduce manual labor and free up manual resources for higher-value activities.
In the past, automated sortation system options have included components such as tilt-tray sorters, pneumatic pusher systems and cross-belt systems, but these older systems cannot effectively handle the variety of package types being sorted today. They are also not easily modified as changes in sortation needs continue to arise.
This brings us to the on-demand polybag sorter, which is revolutionizing the world of automated conveying. This modular sortation system is built off the use of belts powered by motorized driven rollers (MDR) to move, sort and divert packages down a conveyor line. These systems can be modular so sections can be added or removed as needed, giving distribution centers the ability and flexibility to scale based on demand. Unlike other systems that use force to divert objects, modular roller top belt stations use motion control, allowing factories to convey packages of all sizes smoothly in any direction.
Want to know more? Schedule time with a Regal Specialist.
What are the benefits of an On-Demand Polybag Sorter?
1. Improved Safety
Distribution centers that need to keep operating at maximum efficiency while maintaining social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic (or other future pandemics) will benefit from the use of an on-demand, modular sortation system. Without the need for manual sorting, workers no longer need to stand side-by-side or in close proximity on a line. Other features such as roller-free belt designs improve worker safety. With minimal gaps or pinch points anywhere, workers face a much lower risk of injuries such as lacerations. Finally, automated sorters can reduce ergonomic injuries caused by workers lifting and turning to move packages from a belt. These improved safety measures can save thousands of dollars by reducing worker’s compensation claims.
2. Energy Savings
While many modular sortation systems run in an “always on” fashion, there are clear energy savings benefits in selecting an on-demand parcel sorter. With an on-demand sorter, the system runs when it sees packages to run and when there is nothing to do, it stops. This reduces energy consumption, which in turn saves money. Modular roller top belt systems can achieve energy savings of 50 to 60% compared to other conveyor transfer systems — in addition to the savings realized by eliminating the labor-intensive step of re-processing small or plastic packages conveyed in tubs. Buyers in the market for new conveying systems should opt for pneumatic free, 24-volt solutions to reduce overall energy usage.
3. Ability to Process Diverse Packages
As e-commerce continues to grow, an increasingly diverse range of package sizes and shapes, especially polybags and smaller packages, need to be sorted in distribution centers. Some revolutionary sortation systems are able to divert and transfer products of any kind by using precise, controlled and impact-free motion to move products along motorized conveyor lines. This process is ideal for handling polybags and smaller packages without the gaps associated with pop-up transfer modules, meaning that small packages will no longer fall through the cracks.
4. Scalability and Flexibility
Another benefit of new conveying technologies is the ability to be both scalable and flexible. These systems allow for sortation zones to be easily expanded for increased demand by adding additional modules over time. They can also be integrated into existing traditional or motorized roller conveyor systems and are often portable, allowing them to be redeployed to another location or be rolled off to the side to use at a later time. The modular design of these systems mean they can be integrated and reintegrated into a line and given new tasks that can often be accomplished within a few hours.
5. Productivity Improvements
In the past, moving small packages or polybags required putting them into tubs, totes or bins for handling, then hand-sorting the materials at the end of a line: a time-consuming, labor-intensive extra step. In this era of automation, workers who no longer need to manually sort packages can now be redeployed for higher-value tasks.
While distribution centers are facing complex issues, revolutionary advances in automated conveying are solving these problems. By eliminating manual sortation methods, distribution centers can realize labor, energy, safety, and inventory savings for more efficient operations.
To learn more about Regal’s on-demand, modular conveying solution, the ModSort module, and how it can solve your unit material handling challenges, please visit ModSort.com.