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Reverse Logistics & Order Fulfillment Automation

Sorting Books ~ Book Distribution and Publishing Industry

Here we present a Sample Book Returns Sorter specifically designed for sorting fragile products, such as books; equipped with special handling chutes and semi-manual loaders. This sample book returns sorting sytem uses our medium capacity tray mechanisms to handle up to 25 lbs, in an oval layout.

All GBI's Tilt Tray Sorters will simultaneously sort irregularly shaped products from small lightweight polybags to larger boxes weighing up to 25 lbs.

Fragile Product Handling Chutes

This GBI Book sorter is an automated "tilt tray" sortation system with special handling chutes with chute full beacons designed to properly collect and accumulate fragile products such as books. This system is used for to expedite the handling of returned books (Reverse Logistics), and for order fulfillment, based on customer specified criteria.

GBI Sorting

    Click on the image below
    to view a Video of a
    Returns Book Sorter


  • Sorts packages weighing up to 25 lbs.
  • Tray mechanism has only six moving parts
  • Automatic, semi-automatic, or manual Induction
  • Custom Chute Design
    — Delicate handling chutes (as shown)
    — Stainless steel diverted chutes
  • Windows operating system with Microsoft SQL database

Includes all the features described for the Tilt Tray Family of Sorters including:

  • Full integration with variety of Hosts
  • Modular construction
  • High accuracy rates
  • Ease of use
  • Low maintenance requirements
  • Long life and reliable operation

Sample Book Sorting Layout Description

The sorter is configured in our standard oval layout. It employs our standard tilt tray design with our medium capacity tilt tray mechanism 25 lb. limit) capable of handling the products such as books. The tilt tray will be capable of tilting product to either side of its direction of travel. Product travels counter clockwise through the scanner and to the drops. A platform is needed for the operators to stand on to load product onto the sorter at an ergonomic height.

In this application the sorter trays are moving past the operators at 105 feet per minute allowing them to place the product directly onto the trays. Faster rates are also available (up to 140 ft/minute or more) and may require semi-automatic feeder mechanisms.

Take-away conveyors (provided by others) are used along and below the collection chutes to facilitate the quick removal of completed orders. Operators would remove books that have accumulated into the collection chutes and place them into a shipping carton or tote. Once full, or upon order completion, the carton or tote is pushed forward onto the take-away conveyor and conveyed to shipping or packaging.

Semi-Automatic Induction Units (Optional)

This option is used for inducting fast sorters with products of varying size or for manually entered UPC's or SKU's. It also offers improved handling for fragile products such as books.

Chute Full Beacons & Status Displays

Each chute may be equipped with a chute full sensor to sense when product has accumulated to a full condition. Upon detecting this accumulation the sorter controls will suspend the effected chute to prevent any other product from entering the chute and backing up into the moving trays. Chute Full Beacons may be used to indicate when a chute is approaching full capacity or when full capacity is reached. These beacons alert personnel to empty the chute. Upon clearing the sensor, by removing product, the chute would automatically revert back to normal condition and turn off the chute full beacon and allow product to be sorted at that location. Status displays at the chutes are used to inform personnel around the sorter about the status for each drop.

Chute Angles and Delicate Handling Devices

Each chute is equipped with rollers and set at an appropriate angle to allow books to gently accumulate. The chute angle is enough to allow the books to proceed but not severe enough to allow the books to crash into each other. An ingenious mechanism is in place to retard the forward motion of larger, and presumably heavier, books while not interfering with the smaller, and presumably lighter, books.

Sorter Layout & Parameters

GBI Sorting

Book Sorter - Oval Layout
click on image for enlarged view

The following parameters have been defined for this sample application:

  • Sorter rate is 4,715 trays per hour.
  • Tray belt speed is 105 feet per minute.
  • Sorter load areas for manual induction measures approximately fourteen feet.
  • The sort destinations are placed on approximately 21-inch centers.
  • Each chute will have a chute full beacon with chute full sensors.
  • Trays are on 16-inch centers with 4 inches between trays.
  • Tray size is 12 inches by 12 inches.
  • There are 8 drops per seven-foot sort section, for a total of 160 drops.
  • There are two load areas.
  • The sorter is built in modules and may be expanded or contracted at a later point in time with minimal interruption of workflow.
  • One omni-directional scanner is included for automatic product identification at each load area (two total).
  • Manual mode entry is included for non-bar coded product.
  • Unexpected Package on Tray sensor array after each sort section.
  • TCP/IP with FTP Ethernet communications with the host.
  • Software modifications if any are addressed during the design phase of the project.

Sorter Software

The software used to drive the GBI Tilt Tray Sorters is built on the latest Windows system platform using Microsoft SQL for data storage. Aside from being user friendly, our sorter software in concert with the GBI sorter controls permit a high degree of programming flexibility. Included with these systems is the additional functionality to allow you to keep track of product by chute and subsequently by package.


Software safeguards are in place to protect the integrity of the sort as well as the maintenance of the equipment. We presently check that a solenoid was triggered to confirm the sort request and stop the sorter under extreme conditions that may affect the reliability of the sort or the equipment condition, such as a possible chain jam.

Tracking Software

Sorted data is recorded in a database that tracks each package including:

  • every sku seen by the scanner
  • the time it was seen
  • whether it got a valid read or not
  • the tray it traveled on
  • to which drop it was directed
  • mode of operation (automatic or manual)
  • on which cycle of the sorter
  • where it was dispensed
  • Was the solenoid triggered to drop or canceled.

Another application for this type of sorter may include: Library Book Sorting

This information is available for examination by network or modem to assist in diagnosing irregularities or for generating productivity or other analysis reports. Remote access software and modem are supplied with each sorter computer. An Internet connection is the preferred method for remote access and will be utilized if provided.

Here are some examples of applications or processes that are greatly improved through automation using GBI's Sortation Systems:

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GBI Data & Sorting Systems • 1143 West Newport Center Drive • Deerfield Beach, FL 33442 USA
954-596-5000 Ext. 231 • Fax 954-596-5015 • E-mail contact: info@gbisorters.com

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