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Pallet sorting automation based on shuttle and flow rack systems


Our client is among the top 5 largest meat processing companies in Ukraine. A wide range of quality meat delicacies, numbering more than 250 varieties of products, and constantly growing demand for meat products, prompts the company to improve and automate storage processes in order to provide consumers with quality products in a timely manner.

Project implementation period:
Business sector:
Food retail (FMCG)

The logistics of a meat processing plant face many challenges: From non-standard premises to GDP standards, from peculiarities in packaging, weight and pallet type to demanding distribution and retail chains with strict delivery deadlines. Consequently, the supply chain from the production line to the shipping area must be as fast and error-free as possible.

In order to solve this task together with the customer, our team developed an automated warehouse conveyor line based on shuttles, a driven roller conveyor, pallet flow system and a vertical elevator designed for vertical pallet handling and sorting in the conveyors.

This combination proved to be the most efficient and effective process: an increase in productivity in handling and sorting as well as a 2.7-fold increase in pallet quantity in the same storage area. Since the human factor is not involved in the decision-making process when sorting the pallets, the error rate tends towards zero. Furthermore, the processing of returns is automated so that the logistical flows in the warehouse do not cross.

Conveyor systems

The conveyor line used in this project is suitable for automating individual sections and the entire warehouse. Furthermore, it consists of individual modules, so that it can be easily adapted to the warehouse operation and scaled as the company grows. The conveyor connects the different storage areas with each other and ensures a fast transfer of goods between the storage levels. For example, the conveyors facilitates the organisation of goods sortation, which was one of the main goals of this project.

The KAPELOU driven roller conveyor was used for the automatic transportation of pallets. By using only those areas with pallets, the conveyors is energy-efficient. A sturdy pallet conveyor with a speed of 0.2m/s lifts pallets weighing up to 900 kg vertically.

Sorting systems

Pallets are sorted into 68 directions by two shuttles. At a speed of 1 m/s, the shuttle transports the pallet to the appropriate two-level gravity channel. Unloading takes place at an angle equal to the angle of inclination of the gravity pallet storage conveyor.

Safety comes first

The safety of the employees is the top priority. Mechanical and electrical protection schemes: noise protection, transport safety, emergency stop of the vertical conveyor, warning light system and display – the automation system fulfills the technical requirements and recognised rules of safety in the warehouse.

The automated pallet sorting system consists of:

  • Driven pallet conveyor;
  • Shuttle conveyors;
  • Pallet flow system;
  • Vertical pallet conveyor;
  • Safety;
  • Control;
  • Integration of equipment with WMS (warehouse management system).

Results of automation

The proposed solution for transporting and sorting pallets in the warehouse with an automated shuttle-based conveyors has given the customer the following advantages:

  • Thanks to a complete solution from KAPELOU, pallet transportation and sorting in production is fully automated.
  • Storage efficiency in the forwarding area, i.e. the number of pallets that can be in the area at the same time, has been increased from 126 to 340 pallets.
  • The number of staff in the warehouse has been reduced by 2.3 times.
  • The number of errors was reduced to almost zero, because a person is not involved in the decision-making process when sorting pallets.
  • There has been a 3.8-fold increase in the number of routes by which pallets can be accumulated in the forwarding area in advance – from 18 to 69.
  • Full warehouse automation and separation of shipment and return transport processes has been ensured.
  • The speed of loading the vehicle has been increased to 90 pallets per hour. The system thus makes it possible to store the end products in the forwarding area sorted by direction over a long period of time and to make shipping as productive as possible during peak times.
  • The automated sorting operates 24/7.
  • Guaranteed payback period of the sorting is about 4 years.

Comparison of automatic sorting process with manual sorting

Here you can see a comparison between an automated and a manual sorting for a warehouse. The automated is based on the shuttle described above. The manual sorting of pallets was used before automation and was done with the help of forklifts and loading by a hydraulic trolley:

As a result, the conveyor system transports almost 2.7 times as many pallets on the same floor space. To achieve the same number of pallets in the manual version as with the automated, the conveyor area has to be increased by 465 m2 or 270 %.

Unloading the pallets from the accumulator and loading the truck now takes only 80 seconds instead of 150. The number of sorting directions has increased from 18 to 69, almost quadrupling. At the same time, the number of staff has decreased and the monthly costs have halved.

In summary, we have increased the speed of loading the trolley with pallets to 90 p/hour. In this way, the system makes it possible to store the final products in the shipping area sorted by direction for a long period of time and to make shipping as productive as possible during peak hours. In this way, the speed and continuity of the production process and the customers’ need for delivery can be balanced almost simultaneously, reducing labour costs and shortening product delivery times to the end customer.

Given the uncertain situation and limited resources, it is even more important to find and implement the most efficient solution for your warehouse. This is the main advantage of working with KAPELOU – developing solutions based on 9 years of experience in implementing automation in warehouses, thorough analysis of business processes, know-how of modern intralogistics technologies and manufacturing high-quality equipment.

Leave your request here and the KAPELOU team will present you with the best solution for your warehouse.