Sortation Systems on Board with Evolving Automation Requirements

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTD), the sales through e-Commerce grew by 13% in 2017, and reached a staggering US$ 29 trillion. The global e-Commerce sector is witnessing phenomenal growth, and is redefining the modern retail landscape. The e-Commerce space is driven by a range of factors, including enticing promotional schemes, product launches, exclusive deals, and real-time updates, among others. This growth has directly impacted the growth of the global sortation systems market, which is projected to reach the ~US$ 2 billion mark by 2027.

The automation trend has spread its wings across a range of industry verticals, and sortation systems play an imperative role in assisting manufacturers in fulfilling their automation objectives. Sortation systems have found space in a range of industries, including eCommerce, food & beverages, pharmaceuticals, consumer packaged goods, and logistics. Companies operating in the sortation systems market are likely to focus on improving the quality, functionality, and design of their products, to cater to the evolving demands of their customers.

sortation systems market infographic

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End Users Inclined toward Highly Flexible and Efficient Automated Sortation Systems

Sortation systems play an imperative role in improving the order fulfillment and material handling capabilities of logistic service providers. Owing to significant advancements in technology, different types of sorting systems such as tilt-trays, cross-belts, narrow-belts, and sliding-shoes, among others, are available. However, with a collective market share of ~61% in 2019, tilt-tray and cross-belt systems are expected to remain the most sought-after sorters over the forecast period (2019-2027).

Tilt trays have gained significant popularity across the food & beverage and e-Commerce sectors, as they provide highly secure automated sorting. Further, the design of a tilt tray is relatively simple, and does not involve a lot of moving elements. Owing to these benefits and high return on investments provided by tilt trays, this segment is set to grow at a CAGR of ~5% during the assessment period. Despite the growing adoption of tilt-trays, cross-belt sorters are set to dominate the sortation systems market, as they are capable of handling different types of products, have the best sorting rate, and produce low noise levels. However, due to steep initial investments required to install tilt trays and cross-belt sorters, small- to medium-sized businesses are leaning toward economical alternatives such as narrow-belt sortation systems.

Sortation Systems Market – Shaping the Course of e-Commerce

At present, state-of-the-art sortation systems influence nearly all operations in e-Commerce warehouse. Furthermore, heavily driven by advancements in technology, sortation systems have opened the gates to cost-effective and highly streamlined fulfillment operations. Sorters are experiencing consistent waves of innovation to enable them to serve the evolving requirements and operations of the e-Commerce sector. Two notable advances in the sortation systems market that are likely to influence order fulfillment operations of the future include improved capabilities in handling polybag packaging and consolidation of automated goods-to-person systems and sortation systems.

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The e-Commerce industry is set to assert its dominance in the sortation systems market, accounting for over 30% share over the course of the forecast period. In the current scenario, the adoption of pouch and pocket sorters is on the rise, owing to their exceptional capabilities of addressing a host of challenges faced by e-Commerce players involved in the durable consumer goods and fashion business, especially related to cost-savings. With growing affinity toward the use of polybags for packaging, the demand for reengineered shoe sorters is expected to move in an upward trajectory in the near future.

Stakeholders Focus on Expanding Product Range

With the fast-paced evolution of e-Commerce, food & beverage, and pharmaceutical manufacturing spaces, order fulfillment, material handling, and other warehouse operations demand flexible, efficient, and cost-effective sortation solutions. Companies operating in the sortation systems market are focusing on expanding their product portfolios to gain a competitive edge. For instance, in October 2019, MHS launched two new sortation systems – the HC Smalls sliding shoe sorter and the HC-Loop cross-belt sorter, to solve throughput challenges faced by its customers.

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Analysts’ Viewpoint

Evolving operational, material handling and order fulfillment demands of various end-use industries are set to drive the growth of the sortation systems market at a healthy CAGR of ~5% over the forecast period. Market players should monitor developments in various end-use industries to provide customized solutions as per the requirements of the industry. In addition, they should also focus on the development of new sortation systems that will address the existing challenges faced by customers. Moreover, as consumers continue to demand faster delivery, e-fulfillment requirements will continue to drive innovations in the sortation systems market space in the coming years.

Precision, Profitability, and Speed Required in Sorting to Fuel Demand for Efficient Sortation Systems 

  • According to Transparency Market Research’s latest market report on the sortation systems market for the historical period of 2014-2018 and forecast period of 2019-2027, the growing e-Commerce industry has transformed the process of order fulfilment and sortation, which is projected to drive the growth of the sortation systems market.
  • Globally, revenue generated by the sortation systems market has been estimated to be ~US$ 1.3 Bn in 2019, and is projected to expand at a CAGR of ~5% in terms of value during the forecast period. 

Sortation Systems to Enhance Order Processing Efficiency and Accuracy

  • Sortation plays a crucial role in optimizing order fulfilment processes. Sortation systems enable efficient receiving, picking, packing, and shipping, and also reduce room for errors. This reduces the operation time as well as cost of distribution. Thus, by replacing manual sorting with automated sortation systems, productivity and accuracy can be increased significantly, which results in high output.
  • Furthermore, sortation systems are capable of precisely controlling gaps, as they operate at a constant speed. This controlled speed of operation makes the sorting process more efficient, which aids in reducing return rates.
  • Thus, the demand for sortation systems is likely to rise substantially as distribution centres and warehouses continue to demand automated systems for enhancing their operational capabilities, as such, boosting the growth of the global sortation systems market.

e-Commerce to Create Remunerative Potential for Sortation System Manufacturers

  • Increasing popularity of e-Commerce surges the number of orders placed per day. This hike in the number of orders has made product delivery a challenging task for the logistics industry. Thus, the demand for material handling solutions such as sortation systems is witnessing a rise across all regions, in order to increase productivity.
  • Also, order fulfilments in the e-Commerce industry include versatility in terms of handling packaging formats. Initially, products from e-Commerce are delivered in cartons, which make their sorting a challenging task. However, polybags are increasingly being employed for e-Commerce delivery, as they are less expensive and apt for the packaging of apparel, consumer durables, and other goods, as compared to cartons.
  • Manufacturers of sortation systems are reengineering their sorters to reduce instances of polybags getting stuck in conveyor belts, which can lead to damage. These developments are anticipated to create immense opportunities for manufacturers of sortation systems as well as logistics companies in the foreseeable future, thereby expanding the sortation systems market over the period of forecast.

Global Sortation Systems Market – Key Findings

  • Cross-belt sorters are the most preferred sorters for high-speed applications, and are forecast to account for ~US$ 700 Mn by 2027. Cross-belt sortation systems are considered apt for product handling and processing different packaging formats, making them suitable for e-Commerce applications.
  • The up to 5 kg segment in the sortation systems market accounts for a majority of the market share in terms of value. These are used most prominently as most parcels and couriers weighing less than 5 kg. The segment is likely to expand 1.3X its current value, and generate an incremental opportunity of ~US$ 160 Mn in the following five years.
  • Warehousing companies prefer high-throughput sortation systems, which are capable of processing above 15,000 units/hour. However, companies with less load tend to go for mid-rate sorters. Thus, 5,000-10,000 units/hour sortation systems are projected to clock a CAGR of ~6%, and reach US$ 380 Mn by 2027.
  • The e-Commerce and logistics industry cumulatively are expected to account for ~50% of the global sortation systems market share, as automation has been observed as a key trend in warehousing. This industry is expected to create an incremental opportunity of ~US$ 200 Mn by 2023.

High Demand from Logistics to Boost Sales of Sortation Systems

  • Warehousing accounts for 25% share in the logistics industry, which remains mostly unorganized in developing countries. However, this scenario is changing gradually, and warehousing is becoming more organized. Thus, the demand for conveyors, sorters, and other material handling systems is surging.
  • By using sortation systems at warehouses, order consolidation can be done quickly. Also, sorting at the destination has become easier and accurate by employing automated sorters. This will further boost the demand for sortation systems in warehouses and logistic centres.

Global Sortation Systems Market – Competition Landscape

  • Daifuku Co. Ltd., Vanderlande Industries BV, BEUMER Group GmbH & Co. KG, Honeywell Intelligrated Inc., TGW Logistics Group GmbH, Murata Machinery, Ltd., have been identified as tier 1 players operating in the global sortation systems market.
  • Due to the presence of several organized players, the bargaining power of suppliers is moderate in the North America and Europe sortation system markets. However, many players in Asia are emerging as prominent regional players, which include
    • GreyOrange Pte Ltd.
    • Okura Yusoki Co., Ltd
    • Nido Machineries Pvt. Ltd.
  • Owing to the presence of these regional players, the bargaining power of suppliers is likely to be relatively lower in Asian countries. The presence of these players is expected to make the regional sortation systems market highly competitive.

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