Delay in the day-to-day: Sortation Delay Survival Guide

Delay in the day-to-day: Sortation Delay Survival Guide

By Katie

January 25, 2023
Sortation Delay

No one wants to experience a sortation delay, but when they do, it's important to be prepared.

At some point, I’m sure you’ve been faced with a situation where you’re trying to ship something or receive something and you’ve received a message that says something to the effect of “We’re sorry, this package has experienced a sortation delay.” Sortation delays and shipping delays are an unfortunate but definite part of the material handling process. They can occur across any of the material handling platforms such as UPS, USPS, FedEx, or third-party carriers.  In today’s discussion, we’re going to take a deeper dive into why these occur. How we can prevent them from occurring, and how to deal with them when they do occur.

We understand the importance of production deadlines and we know what all goes into getting products from Point A to Point B.

What is a Sortation Delay?

upset customer with sortation delay

If you receive a message saying “We’re sorry, this package has experienced a sortation delay,” this is a generalized UPS alert which can be sent as a result of technical issues in the sorting facility or even if there is a large number of packages in the facility to be sorted and the estimated delivery gets delayed. Occasionally there are other issues during sortation at a UPS facility, such as items being placed on the wrong vehicle, and those will cause delays in the delivery of a shipment. Typically, there will not be specific details on the tracking website regarding what is causing delays, and it is commonly difficult to get specific information when calling customer service as well, usually because a generalized sortation delay has been triggered, and that is all the information that is provided. Delays are highly frustrating, particularly if the shipment is time-sensitive, but these delays can sometimes be prevented.

There are a few other reasons delays occur in the shipping process. Among those reasons are:

  • The shipment has been picked up but has not been scanned.
  • The shipment has not been picked up.
  • There are shipping network backups due to high package volume.
  • Inclement weather can cause shipment delays.
  • Other miscellaneous delays, such as equipment or software malfunction.

How to Respond to a Sortation Delay

Much of the time, UPS updates are entirely contingent on regular scans throughout the shipping process. Every time the shipment changes hands and is transferred to a new facility or vehicle, the worker in charge of the shipment is supposed to scan it in order to provide tracking updates. At times, shipments are not scanned when they should be and therefore there are no tracking updates; this is usually resolved when the shipment makes its next stop on its journey and is scanned at that time. In the case of regular scans where a package has been placed on the wrong vehicle, the problem is easily found and the delay can be addressed by rerouting to the correct location for delivery. More timely delays occur in situations of high package volume and inclement weather, and it is during these types of delays that we highly advise reaching out to UPS customer service to get more information about why your shipment is delayed. Although customer service may not know the exact location or updated estimated delivery date of your shipment, they will be able to tell you the route your package has traveled and what might be going on to cause the delay. Though this does not provide much more than peace of mind, contacting customer service will at least provide you with answers as to why delivery may have become disrupted.

How to Avoid/Mitigate Sortation Delays

Before undergoing any shipments, it is important to make sure the right automation equipment is in place. When you understand the volume of the product you will be sorting, you will have a better understanding of the type of conveyor system it will take to sort that type of shipment. It is also important, as we have noted in other posts, to have a plan outlining how to minimize downtime and maximize productivity. For more information about planning for large volumes of product output, reference our post about implementation plans. In addition to having the correct equipment and a plan to use that equipment most effectively, it is important to have an inventory of spare parts for equipment maintenance and repairs during production and be sure there is a team on standby at all times in case maintenance or software needs arise.

How do we Prevent Delays for Our Customers

RCE Partnership

At Russell Conveyor & Equipment, we understand the importance of production deadlines, and we know what goes into getting products from Point A to Point B. That being said, we also understand the components of the material handling process which can cause disruptions for both the production facility and the consumer, and we can advise you on how to avoid those disasters before they happen. To begin with, we provide turnkey systems with short lead times and install times, which helps prepare for large volume shipments in a timeline that is convenient for your company. In addition to our rapid turnaround times, we have a team of service professionals on standby to address all your preventive and predictive maintenance needs. We also carry a vast inventory of spare parts and software to mitigate any and all issues you may encounter during your production process. Lastly, we have support teams available 24/7 to assist with controls and software support; all you have to do is install a VPN (Virtual Private Network) router and our engineers are at your disposal to remotely connect to your system and help pinpoint and correct your problems.

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About Russell Conveyor & Equipment

Russell Conveyor and Equipment has been in business for over 20 years. We specialize in conveyor systems and material handling solutions. Russell is a family-owned business, and we take pride in our customer service and quality products.

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