In some projects, this comparative analysis may be impacted by physical and/or budget constraints. Facility and operational requirements may place limits on the number of diverts or the length of the sorter. Available funding may also place limits on the size and configuration of the sorter.
Another factor for some DCs occurs when orders are batched and picked by carrier. This adds an additional level of granularity to the analysis.
Conclusions & Suggestions
First - the cost of the physical sorter is a onetime capital investment; whereas labor is incremental and on-going. This favors more diverts with fewer after-sort pallet positions per divert. Typically, the number of manual pallet build positions per divert will be in a range of 1 to 6 with 3 being a good compromise.
Second - it is logical that for every DC operation there is a point on a curve where additional diverts do not yield higher pallet build productivity. That would be the theoretical optimum number of diverts.
It is also important to monitor and adjust pallet build labor so that after-sort lanes do not frequently backup to the point where incoming cases must be re-circulated. This will reduce system throughput capacity and productivity.
From a safety prospective – it is inherently dangerous to have forklift traffic in and around where people are physically building pallet loads. There should be some type of barrier where completed pallets can flow from the palletizing side to the pickup side.
If the completed pallet loads are stable enough, they can be moved via forklift truck or conveyor system to a centrally located automatic stretch-wrapper. If manual wrapping at each pallet build position is necessary, then there must be sufficient space between pallets.