Why choose a sliding shoe sorter?
Of the many different methods of providing package sortation, a sliding shoe sorter is one of the most versatile, covering a large range of package sizes; weights; types and throughputs via a single design. The Axiom design is capable of sorting products at speeds of up to 10,000 items per hour. It’s no wonder that this versatile type of sorter has become increasingly popular across a large section of the logistics and warehouse markets; wherever sorting of products is required, pre and post packing.
In today’s fast paced warehousing, fulfilment, and ecommerce markets, demands for high-speed, accurate product processing are increasingly required. High costs and labour shortages require efficient and flexible automation, and that’s what a sliding shoe sorter consistently delivers.
What is a sliding shoe sorter?
Axiom’s MSS sliding shoe sorter utilises a straight aluminium slat conveyor driven by an inverter-controlled AC motor. The sliding shoes, which form the divert mechanism, are mounted to the aluminium slats. It is the diversion of the shoes perpendicular to the slat movement that enables the packages to be diverted.
The shoe sorter is designed around a compact footprint, especially compared with other sorting technologies. The Axiom sorter is based on robust fabricated steel and aluminium centre frame sections bolted together to suit the application with the drive and idler modules at either end. The sturdy legs are bolted to the floor for additional rigidity.
The divert chutes or conveyors can be specified at a 20 or 30 degree angle to the direction of travel, with sortation to the left, right or both in the case of a double-sided sort. All parameters are dependent on the individual project requirements and layout.
How does a sliding shoe sorter work?
On the infeed conveyor system prior to the sorter, the individual packages are gapped and identified. Identification is usually by automatically reading a 1D or 2D printed code, or via RFID tags, with the read data being referenced to that provided by the customers’ WMS system. Modern code scanners are capable of selecting a single code even if several are on the packages, the customers data indicates which divert the package is to be sent to.
Knowing the length of the package, the sorter assigns the optimum number of shoes that are required to divert the package. Digitally operated switches then divert the shoes as required at the correct station. The tangential motion of the shoes when diverting allows for a constant and gentle diversion force against the packages, reducing jumping and potential damage compared with higher impact methods of sortation.
Latest developments in sliding shoe sorter technology
Advancements in sliding shoe sorter design over the last decade have brought about significant improvements. Higher throughput speeds can now be achieved whilst still maintaining excellent sortation accuracy.
Many of the sorter improvements developed by Axiom cannot be seen on the outside, but certainly will be evident in production statistics. Most are in the control and guidance of the shoes, with enhanced detection systems to protect the sorter should anything unusual happen. Future planned developments are in the drive mechanisms to reduce noise, another important factor in the workplace.
The modular nature of the Axiom design allows the sorter to be specified to best suit the project scope of the customer without the increased costs of specials engineering. These can include conveyor width and belt height; the angle and spacing of the diverts; single or double-sided sorts. The control software allows easy changes to divert allocation by the customer or the selection pre-saved sort profiles to match the pick waves being run.
Axiom utilises the efficiencies of current manufacturing techniques to reduce lead-times and offer increased flexibility in design. In common with other machine builders, most turned and machined components are manufactured directly by CAD/CAM, eliminating the need for multi-stage set-ups by the operator. Using laser cutting for the fabricated parts allows higher tolerance repeatability. In-house 3D printing of many of the plastic components, such as the divert shoes, allows easy trials and adaption to handle more difficult products.
Where are sliding shoe sorters used?
Seen as one of the most versatile types of sorters, the sliding shoe sorter is ideally suited to improve speed of processing and efficiency in a wide range of product handling areas.
There are many types of industries which are successfully using this technology including:
Health and Beauty
Food and Beverage
What are the benefits of using a sliding shoe sorter?
Ideally suited for high-speed sortation, with a capability of accurately processing more than 10,000 items per hour, one of the major benefits of a sliding shoe sorter is the consistently high throughput rates that can be achieved.
The diversity in the size of products sorted is particularly beneficial; a single design could easily handle packages in the range of 150mm x 100mm x 50mm through to 1500mm x 800mm x 800mm high.
Diverse products suitable for processing on this type of sorter include parcels, totes, cartons, books, multi-media products, polybagged items and jiffy bags.
As the divert method is both positive and gentle, a sliding shoe sorter is particularly valuable when sorting fragile, or easily damaged goods.
Recent safety and operational enhancements without the requirement of compressed air on the sorter, give high throughputs combined with low operating costs. The shoe sorter represents the very best sortation technology for a busy warehouse or distribution centre.
Axiom GB – manufacturing sliding shoe sorters in Britain
The only UK company manufacturing sliding shoe sorters is Axiom GB, an automation specialist based in Tamworth. With decades of experience in designing and making this type of automated equipment, the company’s MSS sorter combines Axiom quality, accuracy and reliability.
The sorter is designed and built at the company’s headquarters in Tamworth, with many of the components sourced in the UK, both to control costs and assist in managing deliveries.
With a compact footprint the Axiom MSS sorter saves valuable floor space, with optimised power requirements without compressed air use to minimise power usage.