Sortation Quality System
The client manufactures labels for consumer products and desired to procure a sortation quality system to both save labor and provide accuracy verification. The bundle sorter is a good example of small item sortation using sweep sorter style equipment. After production on the latest high-speed printing equipment sheets of product are stacked, cut, bundled and shrink wrapped. All product is shipped in full or partial homogenous case quantities, and multiple products are run simultaneously. Products can be visually very similar and thus it is important to avoid mixing of product within a case. After hand packing the cases are inspected for quality using cameras.
- machine sorted product
- proof of fulfillment
- help minimize the chance of backcharges
- reduce labor thru automation
- automated consistent packaging
- machine check for mixing
- handles product down to 2″ long
- automatic tie-in to existing processes
Software Job Entry, Bundle Conveyance
The supervisor selects from available jobs and makes sortation lane assignments for bundles and cases. Multiple products can be assigned to a lane and a product can be assigned across lanes; once satisfied with the assignments, the job is activated. Bundled product is accumulated exiting the existing shrink tunnel. A cooling area is provided for ensuring that tackiness of the wrap is reduced. Bundles are gapped to prepare for induction into the sortation quality system. Special attention around transitions using mini belt conveyors handle the very small product smoothly.
Bundle Induction and Scanning
Once gapped appropriately, the bundles are scanned on top, side and front simultaneously. The sortation quality system looks for a combination of 1-D and 2-D product barcodes and correlates and verifies the product accordingly. Micro-nosebar belts provide tight transitions for very small product. The sortation and quality system sorts the bundle to the appropriate lane. The sortation software keeps track of various statistics such as read rates and bin full conditions. Once established on the tabletop belt, product position is tracked with a pulse encoder until the product reaches the correct lane.
Bundle Electric Sweep Sortation
All-electric sweepers deliver bundles to the correct bin. Photoeyes at each bin provide bin-full indication and direct product headed to full bins for overflow. The controls are designed to deliver both long and short product roughly to the center of the bin. Bin chute design parameters like size, angle, lip size and other aspects were carefully designed and prototyped using the full range of product so as to ensure operator satisfaction with the bin installation. Empty cases wtih untaped bottoms are tucked into a metal tab assembly to ensure integrity during loading, then pushed off to takeaway when full.
Case Quality Inspection
The contents of each box are inspected by cameras for identification and to check for any mixing. The weight of the box is compared to its calculated weight using an in-motion checkweigher. For end-of-run boxes that may weigh ‘short’, supervisors have the capability to easily override the weight function; their overrides are logged for accountability. Admins can adjust the allowable weight range. After weight check, the outside of the box is scanned for any representative labels that may have been placed. A shipping label is printed and and applied and all outside labels are redundantly scanned to verify the box.
After the print and apply station, the case passes through a fully automatic, random taper. The shipping label is scanned and the case is diverted to one of several palletizing lanes. Like the bundle sortation this sorter allows supervisors to select one-or-many lanes for no-read, lane-full, or case not-found. The lanes are at an ergonomic height for manual palletizing. The StreamTech HMI for the sortation quality system is setup to allow operators to see status just of this area versus the bundle sorter or print and apply areas.