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Tompkins Robotics Launches New t-Sort Solution for Micro-Fulfillment Operations

Published: May 26 2020
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Tompkins Robotics Staff
Tompkins Robotics Staff


Portable system helps retailers ensure cost-effective, rapid delivery to meet growing customer demands

RALEIGH, N.C. Tompkins Robotics, a business unit of Tompkins International, has announced a new t-Sort solution designed specifically for micro-fulfillment operations. The new micro-fulfillment solution utilizes the company’s award-winning t-Sort autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to optimize operations in a store backroom, micro-fulfillment center (MFC) or dark store.

Retail stores—particularly grocery—were not designed to accommodate an influx of surrogate shoppers or buy online pick up in store (BOPIS) orders. The t-Sort micro-fulfillment solution optimizes operations by saving space, labor and cost while increasing speed and accuracy. The flexible, fully modular system fits in an existing backroom space and can process all types of products including ambient, fresh and frozen foods.

“As retailers race to deliver products in a tight timeframe and real estate continues to be costly and scarce in densely populated areas, micro-fulfillment models are becoming a popular trend,” said Mike Futch, president of Tompkins Robotics. “Our t-Sort system can be rapidly deployed in an existing location or a backroom at a fraction of the cost of traditional micro-fulfillment solutions using ASRS technology. This gives our customers options for stores where higher levels of automation are not realistic.”

For customers pursuing a micro-fulfillment strategy using automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) or goods-to-person AMR solutions, a t-Sort system can be integrated to increase value at minimal cost. This combined solution significantly increases capacity and productivity at an attractive incremental investment and ROI. Furthermore, t-Sort can be effectively deployed in a dark store or a standalone micro-fulfillment site.

With store-based fulfillment models, t-Sort fits within an existing backroom space and works in conjunction with Tompkins Robotics’ new t-Rail system to provide overhead transportation of goods to and from the sales floor, minimizing floor congestion and human interaction while also providing incremental ROI and added value for customers.

When used in a retail backroom setting, the t-Sort micro-fulfillment solution:

  • Facilitates inbound sortation of mixed containers to segments of each aisle for faster, more efficient shelf stocking.
  • Enhances home delivery and BOPIS order processing by allowing batch picks of hundreds of orders by department or aisle, improving speed, productivity, capacity and efficiency.
  • Automates order consolidation, increasing customer service levels and decreasing labor requirements.
  • Reduces aisle congestion and shopper interference by minimizing staff requirements, enhancing the customer experience.
  • Can be configured to sort large, bulky products on one level and smaller goods on the other level to optimize operations and increase productivity.
  • Provides increased capacity, enabling retailers to meet surges in daily customer orders.
  • Sorts outbound parcels by route, courier or local delivery unit, enabling same- or next-day delivery at the lowest cost.

“We can deploy a backroom t-Sort system in as little as two weeks per site during a rollout to multiple stores,” Futch adds. “A system can increase capacity in minutes once additional robots are on site, and an entire system can be moved to another store in a day. The simple, flexible design and plug-and-play elements make t-Sort truly unique for micro-fulfillment applications.”

For more information about Tompkins Robotics’ new micro-fulfillment solution, please visit

About Tompkins Robotics
Tompkins Robotics, a business unit of Tompkins International, is focused on the robotic automation of distribution operations. Our primary system, t-Sort, consists of autonomous mobile robots that sort a wide range of items and parcels to consolidation points. t-Sort is a portable, automated material handling sortation system that is creating a huge paradigm shift in the supply chain and how the basic distribution function of order fulfillment is accomplished. We continue to expand this core system with complementary robotic systems to automate processes in fulfillment operations. Our systems maximize performance with mobile, scalable and flexible robotics solutions that grow and change on demand to meet customer needs. We create profit and value for our clients, making them more agile and adaptable to the highly dynamic changes in the marketplace. For more information, please visit

About Tompkins International
Tompkins International is a global supply chain consulting and solutions firm dedicated to helping clients achieve supply chain excellence and profitable growth. Founded in 1975, Tompkins has integrated its decades of experience in strategy, commerce, logistics and technology into an ecosystem of four business units: Supply Chain Consulting, Material Handling Integration, Robotics and Applied Technologies. By combining best-in-breed services and technologies, Tompkins delivers a true end-to-end supply chain solution enabling clients to improve the customer experience and ensure long-term success. Tompkins is headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina and has offices throughout North America and in Europe and Asia. For more information, please visit

In response to COVID-19 and limiting travel, Tompkins Robotics is now offering interactive virtual tours using a variety of stationary and roaming cameras throughout the facility.  We have the capability to demonstrate five t-Sort systems with various configurations, robots and functionalities.  The main demonstration system includes three different induction types: manual, robotic and A-frame.  Our systems are capable of e-commerce order fulfillment, store replenishment, backroom and parcel / postal sortation.  We can demonstrate the original t-Sort robotic system in multiple dual level configurations and an elevator system to move robots between the levels.  Our larger t-Sort Plus robots run on single level systems with both tilt tray and crossbelt options.  In the very near future we will demonstrate the new t-Sort Mini in an additional system. We have a wide variety of inventory to demonstrate products including general merchandise, apparel, grocery, fragile goods, odd sizes and shapes and a wide range of product weights.  You will also have a chance to learn about the technologies that are integrated into our system such as automated induction, automated charging, integrated weight and dimension capture, our proprietary wireless network and Warehouse Execution System (WES), new innovations such as our automated sorter exit solution and more.  And if mobility and flexibility are important to you, we can demonstrate how easy it is to reconfigure a system, remove or add a sort table, and even fold a table into a smaller footprint for move or transport.