A Bombay Sorter also known as a flat sorter is used for high-speed automated sortation of small lightweight items. These items would be too small and light to be handled by a typical conveyor system and includes bagged garments, jewelry, pharmaceuticals, CDs, mail, books, and small parcels.
A Bombay or Flat Sorter is a metal tray type sorter that carries product over an open order (a case or chute position) and when in position, the doors swing open like a trap door to divert the product to the correct location. The name Bombay is very descriptive of Air Force bombers who would open their bomb bays when over their targets.
The Bombay or flat sorter is a horizontal loop style sorter, typically installed at an elevation of 6-8 ft off the floor. The chutes or cartons are located below the sorter and the product falls straight down when the trap door style tray opens. Each tray has a mechanical latch that is actuated by a fixed pneumatic device that fires when the tray passes. Once the latch is opened the two halves of the tray swing open like trap door. Once the tray opens, the product falls straight down.
Product is either piece picked into totes or cartons or full case goods are conveyed to the sorter induction area. There usually 3-5 induction stations located next to each other. Cases/totes are conveyed to the induction stations, where operators manually remove product and place it on a Bombay tray. The operator can either manually scan a barcode on the product, or a fixed barcode scanner is located just after the induction station to scan the barcode on top of the product. The trays typically have either a reflector or fixed bar code label, so the control system knows the trays status (if there is product on the tray or it is empty). This way the controls system can track a tray to a divert location and positively confirm if a product has or has not been diverted.
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Why a Bombay Sorter Will Work for Your Operations
Bombay Sorters are typically found in distribution centers that do a lot of direct-to-consumer operations including ecommerce retail, omni-channel distribution and store fulfillment and replenishment.
The Bombay Sorter handles similar items and operates in the same way that a tilt tray or crossbelt sorter would. Bombay Sorters typically have hundreds of sort location making these sorters rather long. However, they do make good use of space with sort location as close to each other as 18” center to center.
These sorters can be engineered to have curves and designed to fit tight warehouse spaces. On all three of these sorters the item being sorted can either have an operator manually place items on the sorter or have an automated induction system that handles getting the items on the sorter.
The Bombay sorter can handle products that other sorters cannot. It can handle round or irregularly shaped products that could roll off traditional sorters. It is the first choice for retail apparel distribution because it can drop flat apparel bags directly into shipping cartons and require little or no additional packing. It is a great solution for the distribution of soft goods, jewelry, and other products that are not fragile and require no wrapping.