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Sortation Systems

Sortation systems automatically identify items and divert them to the appropriate zone as they move through a facility. This enables warehouses, distribution centers, and manufacturing facilities to better control the product flow, increase throughput, decrease cycle times, and reduce costs associated with sortation.

Sortation systems come in many kinds, depending on the facility’s needs. They are sometimes classed by the throughput they need to achieve as low, medium, or high. Sortation systems that work with standard belt and conveyor lines might handle 30 pieces per minute. Fully automated systems can achieve speeds of 450 pieces or more per minute.

Key benefits of sortation systems

Productivity, efficiency, and accuracy

Sortation systems increase the efficiency of processes, and the productivity of operators, in a number of key ways. Depending on the needs of the operation, systems can be designed and installed that work faster, more accurately, and at a lower overall cost, than human operators could.

High-speed, fully automated systems can be hard to justify in lower throughput facilities. In these cases, targeted automation can be used to supplement the workforce in key areas. By using automation, for just one example, to sort and divert goods to the proper picking zones, a facility can minimize the number of touches each item sees, shortening cycle time and reducing the chance for error.

Balanced, synchronized flow

Because sortation systems are part of the facility’s network and controlled by the WMS, routing and timing issues are automatically controlled. This reduces bottlenecks, increases the efficiency of the entire system, and lowers operating costs. By creating more efficient processes and eliminating frustrating pain points, morale is also often increased.

For example, when operators have to sort or pick large quantities of small items, as they often do for ecommerce fulfillment, balancing the load between different operators, and even for the same operator over a shift, is challenging. Different operators work at different rates, and also get both physically and mentally fatigued over the course of a single shift. By introducing automation at your facility’s pinch points, you can dramatically increase throughput and lower error rates.

Modular design supports future reconfiguration

The installation of a traditional sortation system can affect every aspect of a business. Often, entire sections of a warehouse might be shut down and cleared out for the installation of all the conveyors, diverters, and sorters needed for these systems to function. This makes integrating these systems harder to justify — they are a sizable investment that impact the business while they are being installed.

Instead, innovative sortation systems with modular, expandable, mobile designs can be integrated with minimal impact on a facility’s ongoing processes. The organization can gain all the advantages of automated sortation — including load balancing and increased accuracies and efficiencies — integration is easier to justify. They can be installed where they make the most impact on a business, while minimizing their effect on ongoing operations. And as demand increases, these systems can be easily scaled up by simply adding more modules.

Typical applications of sortation systems in warehousing

Retail store replenishment

Automated sortation can improve retail store replenishment in a number of key ways. While ecommerce has seen undeniable growth, the majority of consumer goods are still bought in-store. And as traditional department stores adapt to ecommerce, their physical locations have also become a key hub for fulfilling online orders.

Sortation systems can help retail store distribution by automating many tasks that were once done manually, lessening the need for physical labor and increasing throughput and accuracy. Among other benefits, sortation systems can be integral parts of picking and packing processes, can improve the palletization process and space utilization in a warehouse, and decrease shipping costs by maximizing the use of cubic space in containers.

Direct-to-customer order fulfillment

Direct-to-customer operations have complexities that make efficient sorting key to success, and efficient sortation can improve nearly every aspect of their operations. In receiving, automated sortation can improve returns processing and put away. In picking, automated sorters can route cartons or eaches to the proper zones, and help consolidate items that can be packed in the same box.

As packages move toward shipping, a sortation system can separate them by size or carrier method. The speeds and accuracies that automated sortation brings to order fulfillment can help businesses meet their customers’ expectation for fast, inexpensive delivery.

Business-to-business fulfillment

Automated sortation improves order fulfillment in business-to-business in some important ways. Business-to-business order fulfillment often involves palletizing and shipping truckloads of heavy boxes or bulk goods, and automation excels at performing repetitive tasks and handling large and heavy loads.

Where an operator will fatigue after handling heavy buckets, boxes, or bags, automated sortation and palletizing will function at 100% efficiency 24 hours a day. Sortation can not only lower the incidents of strain-related injuries, but it can also lower the cost of shipping by maximizing the space utilization of containers.

Just-in-time delivery of parts in manufacturing

In manufacturing, automated sortation can be used in receiving to divert parts for storage or staging, or take them directly to the assembly line. Goods moved to storage or staging can later be automatically called as-needed by the WMS. An automated storage and retrieval system can bring goods out of storage and release them to the appropriate zone — either to a goods-to-person picking station or to a staging area for planning.

Entire pallets, single cartons, or individual pieces can be taken from storage and brought to an operator on the line.

Important considerations when evaluating a systems integration partner for an AMR implementation

Are they consultative?

When partnering with a systems integrator, one of the risks material handling companies face is trying to work with a partner that promises more than they can deliver. The integration partner smiles through consultations and then, behind the scenes, desperately tries to invent the technology they need to deliver on their promises. They miss deadline after deadline until their client reaches a point of no return – they’re willing to justify their costs by seeing any kind of benefit from their investment. Even if those benefits are well below what was originally planned and agreed to.

PeakLogix is not that kind of partner. We are fully consultative, and prioritize your goals and needs. We undertake a thorough discovery process so that we understand both the roadblocks you face now and the goals you have for the future. Our solutions are designed to help you move past your roadblocks, and scale with your business growth. We don’t offer solutions in a top-down fashion that refuses input and denies questions, but collaborate with you and provide the recommendations we believe will best suit your needs.

Are they vendor agnostic?

Vendor agnostic solutions providers like PeakLogix don’t push their favorite suppliers onto their customers. Instead, we work with our suppliers to find and test the applications for which their product is the best fit. We don’t pitch untested products as viable solutions, but rather look for the best solution that already has a track record of solid performance.

Being open to integrating the best solutions on the market — regardless of their manufacturer — means we can truly optimize solutions for our clients, and quickly adjust to changing demands.

Can they scale to your needs?

The changing urban landscape, an aging workforce, the large-scale adoption of ecommerce, and the increased use of artificial intelligence and machine learning have created challenges and brought opportunities that are continuing to change industries in every sector. Businesses need solutions that are more responsive than ever, with the ability to scale both up and down to meet a company’s growth as well as periodic changes in demand.

PeakLogix has been solving the material-handling needs of companies of every size, and in many industries, for over 30 years. We are dedicated to our own continuous improvement because we know that designing systems that will adapt to your changing business needs means being knowledgeable about changes in the industry. By offering adaptive solutions where appropriate, we bring added value to our partners.

Are they available when you need them?

PeakLogix started in 1989 as a material handling and systems integrator serving clients across the Mid-Atlantic. Over the past 30 years, we’ve completed thousands of successful projects and have grown to become a thought leader in the industry and a national provider of innovative solutions, software systems, and automated technologies.

From the beginning of our working relationships with clients, our team works to discover your goals and challenges. We collaborate with you to develop solutions that meet your needs today and also lay the groundwork for your future growth. When your project is complete, we offer services including 24/7 system support, operator training, and maintenance and repairs.

At PeakLogix, our partnerships are our priority.

What Sortation System solutions should you consider for your inbound handling?

Divert Technologies

There are many kinds of divert technologies, and sortation conveyor systems can be integrated into many workflows, including receiving, returns processing, cross docking, putaways, picking and packing, and shipping. Sortation systems will also use one or more automated systems to identify the goods to be routed, such as automated barcode or visual scanners.

Depending on the needs of the facility and their current processes, many kinds of divert technologies can be introduced, including:

  • Deflectors
  • Wheel divert motor driven rollers
  • Pop-up wheel in belt sorters
  • Pop-up wheel in strip-belt sorters
  • Activated roller belts
  • Sliding shoe sorter
  • Belt slat sorters
  • Pushers
  • Right-angle transfers
  • Tilt-tray sorters
  • Cross-belt sorters


Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs) use sensors to detect their surroundings, which they navigate safely and independently. Efficient material handlers, they are programmed to safely follow the most functional path through a facility. They can be integrated into a facility in a matter of weeks with minimal negative effect on ongoing processes and without changing the facility’s infrastructure.

AMRs are equipped with a range of features that make them safe for operators to work with and around, including audible alarms, visual signals, and emergency stops. Depending on how they are tooled, they can interact with conveyor transfer stations to enhance both inbound and outbound processes, can lift pallets either by forks or at a pick and drop (P&D) stand, or can carry small parts or pieces in totes.


Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RSs) optimize productivity and operational throughput through the combination of data-driven optimization, warehouse management software, and labor reallocation. Especially in ecommerce, the manual storage and retrieval of small pieces can drain a facility’s profitability. By automating this non-value-adding task, companies can increase both profitability and employee morale.

Any business that deals with the movement and storage of physical goods needs fast, accurate, and efficient storage and retrieval systems. AS/RSs integrate with a facility’s WMS to allow for increased throughput in decanting, reracking, and conveyance of goods; expanded floorspace through the maximization of vertical storage; reduced or avoided capital expenses related to expansions and reallocations; and lowered labor costs.

Horizontal Carousels

Horizontal Carousels are a cost-effective way to quickly add storage capacity and increase put away and retrieval accuracy and efficiency. They are ideal for high throughput facilities and high speed picking, and can increase storage density by up to 75%.

Horizontal Carousels are generally arranged into pods or zones. Multiple carousels in a pod can create variable access points to create an efficient, worker-friendly layout that can triple average pick rates.

WMS Software (PickPro®)

ScottTech PickPro® is our proprietary Warehouse Management Software (WMS). It’s a fully independent, system-agnostic, web-based software solution that can control all aspects of distribution, and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of any material handling company.

ScottTech PickPro® can serve as a standalone solution, or integrate with your ERP. It can incorporate AS/RS equipment and all the peripherals, control AGVs as well as AMRs, track and manage inventory of both parts and goods, and layer seamlessly with your software architecture to provide granular feedback on, and control of, your operations.

Advance your sortation operations.

Schedule a consultation.

Tell us about your needs and we’ll have someone contact you to talk about various sortation material handling solutions for your industry.