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Sortation and robotics layout at Pitney Bowes

A new facility near Chicago uses robotic induction and sortation to speed parcels from receiving to shipping.

Pitney Bowes
Lockport, Il
Square Footage: About 360,000 square feet
Throughput: The facility sorts up to 24,000 parcels per hour for the USPS
Shifts: 2 shifts per day, 5 days per week plus one shift on Saturday

Read the full lenth article on the upgraded Pitney Bowes distribution center

Pitney Bowes’ newest facility in Lockport, Ill., is an example of a high-throughput Tier 1 facility, designed to sort up to 24,000 parcels per hour. As with the other DCs in the network, this one relies on a core set of technologies that is replicated in buildings across the network.

With a focus on sortation, the facilities are optimized around three processes: receiving and induction; primary and secondary sorts; and shipping.

Receiving and induction

Parcels are received (1) and bulk unloaded (2) onto the facility conveyor system. Parcels are then conveyed to an induction point. There, pick-and-place robotic arms singulate and induct the parcels onto a belt conveyor that delivers them to scan tunnels. Dimensions and weight of each parcel are captured.


Scanning is followed by a primary sort that uses cross-belt or tilt tray sortation systems (3). Parcels that will leave the building as freight are automatically sorted into Gaylord containers. A secondary sort using EuroSort technology (4) sorts parcels that will be delivered to local USPS facilities into postal sacks. Some facilities are using bomb bay sorters; the new Chicago facility is the first in the network to use a twin push tray sorter that can accommodate a wider variety of parcel sizes.


Once the Gaylords or mail sacks have been filled, they are loaded in shipping (5) onto trucks for delivery. In the future, trucks will be automatically loaded by autonomous lift trucks.

Map of Pitney Bowes facility

System suppliers

SORTATION SYSTEMS: EuroSort (push tray sortation) and Mantissa Corporation (tilt tray sortation)
ROBOTICS: Plus One Robotics and Ambi Robotics

Article Topics

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About the Author

Bob Trebilcock's avatar
Bob Trebilcock
Bob Trebilcock is the executive editor for Modern Materials Handling and an editorial advisor to Supply Chain Management Review. He has covered materials handling, technology, logistics, and supply chain topics for nearly 30 years. He is a graduate of Bowling Green State University. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at 603-852-8976.
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