22nd June 2022

7 types of sortation conveyor systems

Automated sortation conveyor systems boost efficiency and overall productivity across various industries. Discover the different advantages, designs, and which sectors they suit best.

From 2015 to 2021, the automated system market witnessed a CAGR of 4.6% to produce an overall revenue of $7.55 billion. Experts expect these figures to increase over the next ten years, with a market valuation reaching over £14 billion by 2030.

One of the main reasons why sorting conveyor systems are experiencing this kind of growth is due to the technology’s versatility. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Every year, a new sortation conveyor system is launched, catering for a different industry or purpose.

Read on to discover the various types on offer and the advantages they can bring your business.

What is a sortation conveyor system?

Conveyor sortation systems are used across various industries to help streamline the direction of objects from one conveyor line to another. The sortation process enables specific items to be identified and diverted to separate locations using devices controlled by task-specific software.

Ultimately, a conveyor sortation system combines the sophistication of automation and control systems with the efficiency of a conveyor to create an advanced sortation system that can also utilise robotics and PLC programming.

The various industries currently incorporating sortation conveyor systems into their operations include:

Common sortation systems apply to book sorting systems in publication factories and baggage sorting systems at airports. As a sortation system, in 2020, airport baggage handling had a worldwide market value worth $6.7 billion.

Automated sortation conveyor systems have become so advanced that different features can be applied to help direct, track, and identify separate objects throughout the same system. You achieve this by installing a sophisticated induction system, alongside system merges and sortation diversions.

Sortation systems suit large operations requiring sending numerous products or items to various locations. With such variations available, deciding what type to invest in highly depends on your industry, facility, and the type of items you need to sort.

The advantages of sortation conveyor systems

Despite each conveyor system having advantages and disadvantages, general perks applied to all sortation conveyor systems include the following:

  • Increased productivity
  • Decreased labour costs
  • Gentle transportation
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Reduced human error

Depending on the type of sortation conveyor system, other advantages can include reduced noise and specific item distribution.

The 7 types of sortation conveyors

With multiple options to choose from, the sortation conveyor you invest in should look to maximise the productivity of your operations while remaining a suitable installation inside your business premises.

Increasingly popular for their speed and affordability, strip belt sorters present a silent option compared to other conveyor sortation systems.

The design consists of multiple narrow belts which divert items via lanes with wheels rising between each belt. Strip belt sorters suit packing stations for large retail operations.

Shoe sorters are notoriously low-maintenance and silent like strip belt sorters. This system supports products on tubes or slates with divert shoes sliding across the slats diagonally. The shoe then gently pushes items onto the separate takeaway line.

Shoe sorter conveyor systems are perfect for handling fragile items of various sizes and weights. Due to the dynamic attributes of a shoe shorter, this sortation conveyor is ideal for the retail industry when saving space in facilities and delicately sorting through an array of products.

An ideal high-speed conveyor to install within a pre-existing warehouse, cross-belt sorters divide items via small individual belted trays.

Cross-belt sorters are made for transporting items in trays, bins, or containers such as small and irregular-sized products like cosmetics, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. Many cross-belt conveyor systems have been installed within warehouses to support the growing e-commerce industry.

Right-angle transfer conveyor systems can handle numerous item sizes and weights. They are well suited to the transportation of fragile products.

This conveyor system gently places products off the conveyor into separate conveyor lines via a transfer head. As a versatile sortation system, right-angle transfers suit heavy pallet operations and for placing fragile items in non-powered conveyors.

This conveyor sortation system works well in the automotive industry, which requires the safe transportation of large and delicate items.

While utilising belt conveyors through added rows of angled wheels for diverting lanes, wheels will “pop up” to direct items accordingly.

Due to the dependence on friction between wheels and items, operators must be aware of this capability before initiating production. Pop-up wheel sorters suit small products and cartons ready for packing and shipment.

Pop-up wheel sorters can be easily applied to any custom floor conveyor system, such as floor rollers or towline conveyors.

Loop sorters suit operations with multiple sort locations and manage a mix of item shapes, weights, and sizes. Typically, each item gets diverted via tilt trays which direct them onto separate chutes off the conveyor.

Tilt tray sorters work well with smaller items within trays that can utilise gravity, such as overhead conveyor systems.

As another high-speed conveyor sortation system, pusher or arm-style sorters push items down appropriate chutes as they move along the conveyor system.

Once again, this system suits smaller items and is an ideal option when item shapes are more irregular, so they may struggle to pass down other conveyor sortation systems.

Pusher conveyor sortation systems suit the recycling industry due to the irregular shapes of objects having to be separated.

Invest in a specific sortation conveyor system for your business

For over a decade, Hills Electrical has provided numerous businesses with bespoke conveyor sortation systems. We take pride in designing and installing the best sortation system for your business to boost operation capabilities and productivity.

Our honest and reliable reputation as a company always aims to exceed our clients’ expectations.

So, if you’re interested in investing in an automated conveyor sortation system, get in touch today. And for the latest updates in the world of conveyor systems, follow us on LinkedIn.

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