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Library sortation system speeds book returns

This month (June 2005) Malmö Högoskola Bibliotek IT will take delivery of a DistriSort sortation system and Codeco 'book return machines' enabling it to significantly improve the efficiency for returning books into its library. It will dramatically reduce the time traditionally taken to replace returned books into their appropriate racks, but also cut manual effort.

When students return books together with their Identification card to one of the three 'book return machines', each having a maximum capacity of 600 books per hour, the machine recognises automatically the student ID, the book code and to what destination the book should be sorted. Once auto recognition has taken place books are then transported by belt conveyor to the sorter, here they are fed individually onto a tray. When a book arrives at its correct destination they are automatically discharged through the base-area of the tray onto trolleys.

This recent contract highlights the flexibility of the DistriSort sortation system that can be easily adapted to suit different operational requirements. Recent installations at the distribution centre of book publisher HarperCollins in Scotland and Free Record Shop in Holland required sortation capacities up to 14,400 items per hour and many hundred specific drop zones, whereas the Malmö Högoskola library only requires a handling capacity up to 1,800 items per hour and up to 10 drop zones.

Commenting on the application-diversity of the sorter, Mr Robert Bonney, General Manager of Polymark GB, (DistriSort authorised UK consultants), says, “Successful adaption of the DistriSort sortation system to both large and small sortation needs is attributed to a modular design whereby a standard powered carrier-track is used to support various tray configurations. Couple the mechanics with highly effective, reliable software and we have a winning combination that is achieving world-wide usage, not only due to functionality but the speed at which sortation schemes can be configured to suit individual needs

At Malmö Högoskola Bibliotek IT the books are sorted to one of ten specific destinations such as History, Management, Language, Mathematics etc. During discharge from the sorter books are deposited into trolleys. These incorporate a spring mechanism that controls the filling level, an alarm automatically indicating when the trolley is full and needs replacing. The full trolley can be set aside to await manual collection and transferred just the short distance to replace books back in their appropriate slot on the shelves.

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