Tompkins International introduces Tompkins Robotics, a revolutionary unit and parcel sortation system which has been patented for North America and Europe. Tompkins Robotics has joined forces with Lab Z to introduce the world’s first, portable automated sortation system, named t-Sort. This new and innovative robotic technology will help build world-class supply chains, providing unmatched flexibility and throughput. Our design can accomplish volumes ranging from millions of units a day to a small operation in the backroom of a supercenter or mall anchor store.


The t-Sort system performs much like a tilt tray or crossbelt sorter. However, the unique and exciting difference is it uses completely independent robots. This is the equivalent of having a tilt tray with no track allowing each robot to travel to any divert or induction station independently along the shortest path. This greatly enhances efficiency to maximize your operational capabilities. Robots, chutes, and induction stations can be added modularly at any time with no interruption or downtime, an additional robot can be added in seconds. A unique feature is the system is purchased on a seasonal or annual basis deferring the capital investment and fully utilizing the asset at all times, unlike a traditional sorter that one buys for their long-term growth plan. A typical installation takes only three to four months to go-live.

t-Sort provides:

  • Efficiency – Robots move along the most direct path.
  • Space Utilization – Typically ≤25% of traditional sortation space.
  • Modular – Robots can be added during peak season to increase throughput. System expanded at any time.
  • Ultimate Flexibility – Unit and parcel sortation simultaneously, flexes on demand, portable and configurable with no fixed infrastructure.
  • Robots Are Less Expensive – 40% to 60% less than a traditional tilt tray or crossbelt system.
  • Capacity – System is typically multi-level and provides a ≥2 factor for volume, sort points, and capacity in a single footprint.
  • Invest as needed – System is purchased and installed as needed each year or growth milestone. Postpones capital investment and allows full utilization of asset.
  • Faster Startups – Implementation is 3 to 5 months compared to a typical lead time of 10 to 14 months.
  • Higher ROI – Lower investment, shorter lead times, faster implementation, reduced space, lower headcount, and incremental expansion/capital expenditures –all drive greater than 2X increase in ROI.
  • Redundancy & Risk Mitigation – No single point of failure anywhere in the system.

The standard system operates on two levels and allows sortation of a wide variety of goods. Individual items range from extremely small cosmetics to gallon containers of liquids. The system is ideally suited to handle apparel and footwear, general merchandise, single items and innerpacks. Parcels sorted include bags, boxes, and mailers. Overall the system handles loads up to a 30 x 36 inch footprint. The robots easily transport cylindrical and other difficult items through unique tray designs. Given the unique flexibility of this application, multiple implementation concepts have been developed, with multiple, large scale national customers scheduled for implementation in 2018. 

  • eCommerce Fulfillment – Wide range of product handling capabilities, facilitates batch picking of intensive SKU operations, and provides a superior unit sortation to traditional fixed track systems.
  • Store Replenishment – Sorts both directly into a store bound container or to chutes for pack out. Can continuously track contents, cube, and weight to ensure that outbound cube is minimized.
  • Parcel Sortation – t-Sort provides a flexible and expandable parcel sortation solution that can handle carton, mailers, and bags on the same system and divert into a wide range of receptacles.
  • Pack Station Takeaway – Easily adapted to provide online pack stations that allow operators to induct directly on to a t-Sort robot for inline manifesting and transport to sortation.
  • Retail Location Backroom Design – World’s first portable, modular, automated system for items and parcels. Facilitates inbound sortation to aisles, eCommerce and pick up in store, and automates order consolidation. System can also sort parcels to local post offices –next day delivery at lowest cost.
  • Returns/Inbound Sortation – t-Sort is highly effective for returns sortation and loose item sortation/consolidation in receiving.
  • Large DC/FC – Up to 750,000 units a day in a single system and multiple systems can be integrated in a single facility.
  • Small DC/FC – Allows automation across a customer base never before tapped. Cost, modularity, phased installation, savings, and performance allow smaller companies and operations to benefit.
  • Supplement Existing Sites – Allows a small system to be added to a site – acts like an automated, large put wall – saves labor, money, capital with a large capacity increase with minimal impact to existing operations.

The t-Sort system is powered by Tompkins Warehouse Execution System (TWES), which eases the implementation through its quickly configurable design and is highly flexible with the ability to interface with a variety of host systems. TWES is cloud based to minimize IT hardware requirements, providing a large number of standard reports and analytics that will assist any operation in maximizing the benefit of the TWES system.

Tompkins Robotics, combined with TWES, will help further evolve supply chain logistics automation, improving the efficiency of logistics operations. t-Sort is a means of automated order fulfillment for units to complete an order, and parcel shipping operations, allowing for better planning, implementation, controls efficiency, flow of goods, and customer service. Watch the Tompkins Robotics video to further understand the capabilities of the automated sortation system.

There is a tremendous reduction in capital cost and space in the warehouse for the Tompkins Robotics design, compared to a traditional automated sortation system. In conclusion, lower and delayed investment, shorter lead times, faster implementation, reduced space and labor, all drive greater economic justification and ROI. In addition, the system has unheard of flexibility compared to the systems in use today and is truly a game changer.

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Supply Chain Comment: Trip Report - Tompkins Emerging Technology Center

Supply Chain Comment: Trip Report - Tompkins Emerging Technology Center

Author: Tompkins International Staff/Thursday, February 22, 2018/Categories: News

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Dr. Jim Tompkins has certainly been among the most impactful figures in logistics and supply chain over the last now almost 40 years. His firm – originally Tompkins Associates, now Tompkins International – was more responsible than anyone for helping to create the market for Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) in the late 1980s through the 1990s.

That was a long time ago – but Jim is hardly done innovating.

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Tompkins International Staff
Tompkins International Staff

Tompkins International Staff

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