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Dynamic buffers offer sorting flexibility

04 January 2022

React to low predictability, growing order volume and shrinking order size in the warehouse with Knapp’s EcoPocket system.

AS THE Knapp group has sold over 5.2 million pockets in its sorter systems to date, it stands to reason that this technology has some compelling benefits. In e-commerce, omni-channel and fashion fulfilment, buffering and sorting are key processes and the dynamic buffers provided by pocket sorter systems are the ideal solution. Today's warehouse needs to be flexible in the face of low predictability, growing order volume and shrinking order size. This is a breeze for the pocket sorter because, for this technology, everything revolves around singles.

Knapp's EcoPocket system arranges pockets containing picked goods from various warehouse areas into the precise sequence required for dispatch. Pockets with single-item orders travel automatically to the packing stations, while those with items from multi-line orders are sequenced by the system's matrix sortation algorithm. For orders destined for retail stores, intelligent sortation enables the goods to be presented in a store-friendly way – whether by size, colour, weight, store layout or any combination of these.

Shorter order-processing times and one-touch handling mean that pocket sorter technology is ideal for handling fast-moving products and high volumes. 

Goods can be fed into the system from any location in the warehouse, any workstation can process any order and every pocket can be individually accessed at all times. So items can be picked in any sequence and for any sales channel. RFID tags on the pockets ensure full visibility of all products in real time, with accurate identification and 100% tracking. 

Shorter order-processing times and one-touch handling mean that pocket sorter technology is ideal for handling fast-moving products and high volumes. With goods pre-picked into pockets and stored in the dynamic buffer, products can be pulled off for orders whenever they are needed, saving valuable time during peak periods.

Picking of goods in manual warehouse areas typically requires more time than in automatic areas. This can affect the overall processing time because an order is only consolidated after all articles have been picked. Functioning as a pre-buffer, the pocket sorter helps to harmonise these different processing times by temporarily decoupling order processing from the order structure. Once all of an order's items are ready, the required pockets arrive at packing/dispatch in the correct sequence.

For fashion retailers, there is the added advantage that the pocket sorter can handle hanging garments and flat-packed items in the same system. Flat-packed goods are transported in pockets, while hanging goods are either fastened to the pocket or directly fed into the system on hangers.

The pocket sorter is also the most efficient method for processing returns – whether flat-packed goods or hanging garments – with only a single touch. Returned items are stored in a dynamic buffer, being immediately available for new orders via totally automatic picking.

Modular construction means that the pocket sorter can be scaled flexibly for growth. Additional sorter modules can be added as volumes grow, making the pocket sorter ideal as both a starter kit for automation and a plug-in solution for retrofits.

The pocket sorter concept was pioneered by Dürkopp Fördertechnik, a member of the Knapp Group, and the latest generation of the technology is known as AutoPocket. This new design of pocket is able to drop goods off precisely and fully automatically without needing to slow down or stop, thus further increasing speed and efficiency. The first installation of AutoPocket in the UK will be for multichannel retailer, NEXT, at its new distribution centre in South Yorkshire.

For more information, visit www.knapp.com