My good friends and colleagues Zäzilia Seibold and Kai Furmans at the Institute for Material Handling and Logistics at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology have developed a prototype of GridSorter, a grid-based sortation system that uses conveyor modules and decentralized control. Zäzilia studied with me for a semester a few years ago and is working in Kai’s lab as a Ph.D. student. The system is being offered commercially by Gebhardt Fördertechnik GmbH in Germany.

GridSorter uses the same plug-and-work architecture featured in FlexConveyor, GridStore, GridPick, and GridSequence. Which is to say, the same unit modules can execute any of these system level functions with a simple flip of the electronic switch—just run a different algorithm and you have a different handling system.

The video below shows a demo system on display at CeMAT 2014 in Germany (Hall 13, Stand F34). Three conveyor lines at the bottom simulate arriving conveyor streams to the GridSorter, which is the 5×5 grid above. Packages are sorted to appropriate chutes (and then recirculated for demonstration purposes).

GridSorter is the first implementation of grid-based material handling in prototype form, so I consider this a major achievement in plug and work material handling systems. As with other GridFlow technologies, the control logic in GridSorter is decentralized, meaning the system can be reconfigured simply by unplugging the units and replugging them into a different grid.

I look forward to announcing more such systems in the future. Congratulations to Kai Furmans and the KIT team, to Flexlog, and to Gebhardt. Well done!

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