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AS/RS SYSTEMS

Horizontal Carousels, Vertical Carousels, Vertical Tower, Mini-Loads, A-Frame, Automatic Picking

This page covers a variety of Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) which are unique in that they automatically bring materials to the operator, rather than have the operator travel to the materials. AS/RS systems, combined with order batching can substantially increase pick rates. AS/RS systems are also used in operations where work must be done on the material after it is selected (for example weighing, bagging, tagging, or special wrapping).

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Horizontal Carousels

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There are two types of carousels - horizontal and vertical. Vertical carousels will be covered in the next section. Horizontal carousels are the workhorse of AS/RS distribution. They are one of the most economical AS/RS systems available. By batching orders, these units, which move at about 1/2 the speed with which a person walks, can insure that an operator hardly ever waits for the machine to position. Horizontal carousels when combined with efficient storage systems, such as totes, can save up to 70% of the space used by traditional shelving. This is because they substantially reduce aisles and they are able to fit product more compactly on easily adjustable shelves. Carousels use lights to direct picks and puts of material.

Sizing, slotting, and order batch creation are crucial for a horizontal operate efficiently. If you need help to select, slot, and size this product, click here.

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Vertical Storage

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Vertical storage includes vertical carousels (same as a horizontal, but rotates vertically) and vertical storage towers. These types of equipment are excellent when you have a high ceiling and need to store material in a small footprint. Vertical storage also gives the product protection (product is enclosed in machine) and can also be used to create a secure picking environment. These units create a very tidy and clean appearance in the facility. Multiple units can be used together to reduce or eliminate waiting, but the operator will still need to walk from one unit to another while picking. These units can accommodate odd sized product, bulky product, high value product, and product requiring special environmental conditioning. Slow moving product is often stored in these machines as are very small items.

If you need help to select, slot, and size this product, click here.

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A mini-load stores and retrieves product in racking that has a very narrow access aisle (just big enough for the robotic inserter/extractor). They can substantially cut down storage requirements. Mini-loads can be set up to pre-fetch the next item while the operator is working on the current one, and pick stations can be set up with several deposit areas. The throughput of a mini-load is defined by the number of independent inserter/extractor units that can operate at the same time. Often, only one unit is used and the mini-load is used in applications where the operator must perform a supplementary function (such as weighing, wrapping, tagging, or counting) once the product is delivered. Mini-loads are commonly used in electronics distribution.

If you need help to select, slot, and size this product, click here.

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An A-Frame does the other AS/RS systems one better - not only does it bring the product to the order, it does the picking as well. There are a number of automated picking solutions, of which the A-Frame is the most common. Other mechanisms perform automated picking in a variety of different ways. Some share a common dispensing unit. Others have one dispenser at each stock location. The cost for a single dispensing unit can range from $200 to as high as $1,200 per SKU, plus the cost of control software. The other issue with automated dispensing systems is that they are very fast, and it is critical that the person replenishing the device not allow stock to run out. If a location runs out, the system is usually stopped until it can be replenished, making the effective pick rate zero.

If you need help to select, slot, and size this product, click here.

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Copyright 2006, 2wmc.com Consulting Group, Inc. - All Rights Reseved
No portion many be copied or reproduced without express written consent.
To report any problems or ask questions: call (603) 868-6767 or email ncof2006@2wmc.com.