Smarter Conveying System

We recently completed a control system that improves the conveying process at a regional distribution center for a major supplier of industrial parts for maintenance, repair, and operational replacement. The original system had one conveyor moving parts to a manual sorting process prior to shipping. Each sorting employee wore a wrist-mounted scanner which would inform the sorter to which of six shipping areas the parts needed to be moved. This manual process sometimes involved moving parts as far as 100 yards. The new system added one conveyor and a multi-line sorting/diverting system. This divert system involves a series of three conveyors with automatic sorting based on automatic scanning of parts-laden totes. As a tote passes the scanner on the divert line, the bar code on the tote is read and communicated to a server at the company’s home office. The server sends back instructions with the line number to be used, and the divert system routes the tote to one of three line choices. The motor freight line has a secondary scanner that will determine which of four motor freight areas should be used. The UPS line was programmed to even out the work load, depending on the number of employees working the line at any given time. A manual selector tells the control system how many secondary UPS conveyors to use. One main and two secondary UPS conveyors can be selected for this function. The system is currently running between 1500 and 1800 totes per day, saving many hours of manual scanning and sorting. Maximum capacity of the system is between 7,000 and 8,000 totes per 8-hour shift, yielding potential for a huge increase in capacity without a significant increase in labor costs. Less manual transport of totes means less lifting and resultant physical strain on employees. The system also has reduced shipping mistakes. Click for more information on our capabilities in the field of plant automation.