Grid-To-Belt Automatic Sorter

Sorting involves organizing items according to their common characteristics or destinations. The primary performance metric for a sorting system is the number of items it can process in a given time unit, namely, the system’s throughput.
Circular conveyor belts (or similar technologies) segmented into sections are the prevailing technology used for sorting. In such systems, destination bins and loading stations are installed along the conveyor. Items are placed onto the conveyor at loading stations and are guided to their respective destination bins by specialized devices.

The existing conveyor-belt sorting systems utilize substantial resources, including labor, land, and equipment, and their throughput is bounded by the physical characteristics of the conveyor-belt system.

Researchers has studied a grid-based material handling system that utilizes a grid consisting of multiple four-way conveyors (4WCs). Such a grid can be used for order picking or sorting operations.
They introduce a hybridization of grid-based technology and circular conveyor belts, which they have named “grid-to-belt.” The grid contains input cells and output cells, where each group of output cells is connected to a conveyor-belt via a funnel. Items are initially placed on input cells of the grid, pre-sorted by a series of moves to their output cells and then to their designated conveyor-belt. The final sorting is done simultaneously by several conveyor-belts.
We introduce for the first time an innovative real-time centralized deadlock free algorithm to optimize the movement of the items to their destinations.
Our Grid-to-belt system yields throughput up to 15 times higher than traditional conveyor-belt sorting systems, utilizing similar amount of labor and footprint. The system is scalable, resilience, and adaptable, making it suitable for a wide range of applications.

Parcel sorting in hubs of delivery companies, baggage handling in airports, and shipment and parcel consolidation in distribution and fulfillment centers.

Initial proof of concept using extensive simulations. The following link contains a demonstration of the grid-to-belt algorithms for such a system: https://youtu.be/ujrEPZjUeQ4

US provisional patent application, GRID-TO-BELT HIGH THROUGHPUT SORTER, Application/Provisional Number 63/543,116, Application Date – 9 Oct 2023

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