High Speed Sortation - ProSort 400 Elite Series

Hytrol's ProSort 400 Elite family of sorters is specifically designed to handle high-speed applications. The ProSort 421 is designed to sort products at a 22-degree angle where high speeds are required. With the ProSort 421, speeds of 700 FPM are possible. The ProSort 431 is designed to sort products at a 30-degree angle where close divert centers are required. With this model, speeds of 350 FPM are possible. The ProSort 421 & 431 series is offered as single-sided, diverting from either side.

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Material Handling System Solution Specialists


Fedway, Inc.
SIC: 4953 - Wholesale wine and liquor distribution

Conveyor system upgrade increases throughput for liquor distributor

Fedway Image 1
On the infeed side of the center's three-tiered live-storage module, 72 powered twist-wheel diverters direct cartons to the proper lanes by stop sequence for staging prior to shipping.

In the highly-competitive business of wholesale wine and liquor distribution, any improvement that will give a company an edge over its competitors gets a serious look.

For Fedway Associates, Inc. - one of New Jersey's wholesale liquor distributors - upgrading its materials handling operations with a new conveyor system and new order management software was a competitiveness-enhancing investment that made sense.

"In our business a conveyor-based distribution system is clearly a necessity," says Fedway's Director of Operations, John Longa. "While we have been using the existing conveyor system at our Kearny, New Jersey, distribution center for years, we realized that we needed to invest in an upgraded system that had the capability to support faster order-picking, increased flexibility, and higher throughput demands, while at the same time improve order-filling accuracy."

In order to accommodate these demands, the company recently embarked on a major program to upgrade and expand its conveyor system. John Longa and the other members of the company's project team contacted AL Systems, Inc, to develop the unique software and computer systems required, and Century Conveyor Service, Inc., their local Hytrol Conveyor distributor to furnish the mechanical/electrical engineering, conveying equipment, and installation requirements.

Full Case Picking

Fedway Image 2
These cartons are discharged from the live-storage module and are in route to the shipping area in three parallel lines. As cartons approach shipping, they will travel down declines to floor-level powered-belt telescoping truck loaders at the dock area.

The great majority of Fedway's incoming orders are phoned in during the day by the company's sales representatives. Most of the orders consist of full case quantities, although the Kearny distribution center also incorporates a split case picking and packing operation as well.

Under the direction of a new order management system, labels are generated and released to the warehouse floor at various locations throughout the facility in batches of three truck or route quantities. Employees then select the proper cases, affix a bar coded label to the top, and place them on one of four takeaway conveyors that are located at floor level in the distribution center. Incline belt conveyors convey the cases up to overhead-supported accumulation conveyors, then on through a mezzanine area to a Hytrol 5:1 saw-tooth merge unit (see layout drawing).

Split Case Packing

Operating under the direction of a new order management system, orders are electronically generated and released to a new paperless pick-to-light system in the split case order-picking area of the building, also in batches of three truck or route quantities. Employees manning dedicated work zones remove empty bar-coded shipping cartons from an overhead monorail system. The employee then marries the random carton to a specific order by means of a handheld RF scanner. As orders are filled, they are confirmed at SKU locations, eliminating the need for checking stations. An express takeaway conveyor then carries finished orders to a shrink-wrap machine. After shrink-wrapping, a bar code label is placed on top of the case at the floor level of the distribution center. An incline belt conveyor then transports the split cases up to overhead-supported accumulation conveyors where they will be merged with full cases at the 5:1 saw-tooth merge in the mezzanine area. A horizontal metering belt conveyor at each of the five lanes controls the release of cartons to the merge.

A fixed-position overhead omni-directional bar code scanner determines whether each carton belongs to the batch being processed, and releases only those cartons that are part of the current batch. The conveyor system then carries the cartons to an induct section where they are properly spaced and scanned again prior to being sorted by a Hytrol QS-1 sortation conveyor, which diverts the cartons to three lanes.

Staging in Batches

Fedway Image 3
This induction system spaces the cartons prior to sortation (which is in the background). Fixed-position overhead omni-directional scanners (also in the background) are positioned throughout the system to monitor the identity and destination of each carton.

One of the main concepts involved in the design of the new system was a switch from a paper-based order picking system to a paperless batch picking system that could handle multiple delivery routes simultaneously. The heart of the batch picking concept is a three-tiered, live-storage module that permits staging of six completed routes at the same time.

As cartons leave the sorter, they are conveyed to one of the three conveyor lines leading to the live-storage module, at the end of which they are spaced and scanned again to identify the stop sequence. The live-storage module consists of three separate levels, each composed of 24 independent 70-ft-long accumulation conveyors, and one 70-ft-long overflow lane. Each level of the module is dedicated to two routes, and cartons are loaded into each lane in stop sequence.

After scanning, cartons travel at right-angles to staging lanes along the infeed end of the module. Cartons are tracked, and as each carton reaches its assigned lane, a powered twist-wheel device diverts it 90 degrees into the appropriate lane.

Once the back half (the infeed half) of the live-storage module lanes is full and the software system confirms that all items have been scanned and accounted for, product stops at all 24 lanes drop down and all 24 lanes automatically index forward to the front half of the module. The product stops then revert to the up position, permitting the receipt of the products for the next three trucks.

Director of Operations John Longa credits the new system with having an impressive impact on employee productivity. "Although we've just installed this new system and don't have a performance track record yet, it appears that it has more than doubled our productivity."

Fedway's new conveyor-based distribution system

Cartons of products are conveyed into this section of the 300,000 square- foot warehouse from an adjacent picking operation. After flowing through a 5:1 merge, the cartons are automatically sorted and carried to the center's three-tiered storage module to be staged for shipping. The cartons are automatically arranged in the correct order for loading into local delivery trucks. When one batch of orders has been completed, the cartons are released for simultaneous loading into three trucks.

A Closer Look at Fedway Associates New Conveyor System

The new system in a nutshell

Company: Fedway Associates, Inc.
Location: Kearny, N.J.
Type of operation: Wholesale wine and liquor distribution
Director of Finance: Michael Dokachev
Operations Manager: John Longa
Total square feet: 300,000
Number of employees: 350 total
Number of SKU's: 4,000
Design conveyor throughput rate: 50 cases per minute
Maximum daily throughput: 25,000
Average daily throughput: 14,000 cases
Total length of conveyor system: 24,154 feet
Type of sortation: Hytrol QS-1 high-speed sortation conveyor
Diverters: powered twist-wheel 90-degree diverters
Accumulation sections: Hytrol SWA
Merge Points: 5:1 high-speed sawtooth merge
Conveyor supplier: Hytrol Conveyor Company, Inc.-Jonesboro, Arkansas
Equipment distributor: Century Conveyor Service, Inc.-South Plainfield, New Jersey
Software supplier: AL Systems, Inc.-Rockaway, New Jersey

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