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totalAMH System Cuts Lead Times at Central Library Sorting Facility

November 14, 2022

* This library system and its staff are required by their governing jurisdiction to remain anonymous in this success story.

New technology that results in happy patrons, streamlined processing, and reduced branch workload delivers big wins for a library. Those are exactly the successful results achieved with the Tech Logic totalAMH central sorter installed recently in a large, multi-branch urban library system.*

The Tech Logic 64-bin totalAMH replaced a manual workflow of sorting the materials delivered daily throughout the system. Previously, handwritten slips inserted in each item indicated destination libraries—which caused sorting errors reading the handwritten slips. Five days to two weeks could elapse in order to transport and sort 7,000 to 9,000 items each day.

The library uses barcodes for item identification. The totalAMH is equipped with machine vision technology to read the library barcode on each item regardless of its orientation on the conveyor belt. The result is a totally automated sorting process that replaces tedious manual sorting and single-item check-in by staff. Libraries that haven’t migrated to RFID can still enjoy the labor savings of Tech Logic’s barcode-based totalAMH.

Sixty-four bin automated material handling system at central library sorting facility.
This totalAMH system incorporates 64 sort locations and features streamlined bulk induction and automatic item separation, detection, processing, and sorting.

Because many of the transported materials fill patron hold requests system-wide, processing time caused significant delays in patron service. Installation of the totalAMH central sorter reduced turnaround time for patron holds to 48 hours—from delivery pickup on one day through sorting and delivery to pickup branches on the second day. Patrons appreciate that holds are much speedier now.

Transportation of materials now occurs primarily with Tech Logic’s wheeled ergonomic smartBINS holding up to 170 items per bin. Each bin replaces handling of at least five full library delivery totes or bags weighing 40 pounds each. Moving materials in wheeled smartBINS protects library staff from the back and arm injuries caused by repetitive tote lifting.

Full smartBINS unloading onto the totalAMH system.
After a staff member wheels a full smartBIN into the totalAMH Unloader module, the system lifts the bin and gradually conveys the contents—between 150 and 170 items—onto the totalAMH system.

Automatic unloader and stack separation system.
The totalAMH Unloader system automatically inducts small stacks of items onto the induction conveyance for processing. Staff can also place items anywhere along the induction conveyance as desired.

Tech Logic's smartBINS.
Tech Logic’s smartBINS are ready for transit indoors and outdoors.

Branch staff also celebrated several big wins in workload reduction as a result of the totalAMH central sorting operation.

1. Streamlined, ergonomic transit and branch check-in. Materials returning to their home branches for reshelving arrive in one or more smartBINS. With Tech Logic’s batchTRANSIT software, checking in the material can be accomplished with a single scan of a barcode on the smartBIN itself. In fewer than 15 seconds, up to 170 items per bin are checked in and ready to shelve—freeing up hours of valuable staff time for other patron services.

2. Easy access to real-time data. Materials arriving to fulfill local patron holds are tracked through batchTRANSIT software. If patrons ask about the status of their holds during transit, the software’s container lists are searchable by title to locate a patron’s hold in a specific smartBIN.

Searchable item and container tracking.
If patrons ask about the status of their holds during transit, the software’s container lists are searchable by title to locate a patron’s hold in a specific smartBIN.

3. No more handwritten transit slips. In the past, the library system used handwritten transit home and transit hold slips to accompany items to their destinations. Now, none of those slips are needed. Slips have disappeared because the AMH sorts materials based on the item’s destination assigned in the library’s ILS.

4. Branches no longer sort outgoing materials at all. In the past, materials might be sorted to regions or downstream libraries to by-pass the lengthy manual central sorting process. Now all materials route to the totalAMH central sorter to be routed efficiently every day to all destinations. Bookmobiles, ILL, or other departments can also be handled on the sorter as separate sorting locations.

Using a totalAMH central sorter equipped with batchTRANSIT, the library system modernized and automated its outgrown manual sorting system. Efficient materials delivery to patrons, along with significant labor savings for both central operations and branches, can be celebrated as a technology success story for this library system.

Tech Logic connects libraries with their communities through dynamic, innovative, and efficient workflow technologies—delivering unparalleled service and outstanding patron experience. Since 1997, we have worked exclusively with libraries to develop solutions that empower library patrons and staff.