Automated Storage and Retrieval – A Smart Alternative
Material handling in a typical machining or
manufacturing operation can account for a large percentage of production time.
With a focus on leaner efficiency it’s worth
looking at more efficient storing, handling and retrieval of your
Automated storage and
retrieval systems are a smart alternative to traditional shelving and rack
systems. Vertical carousels and Lift systems solve many of the problems
associated with poor utilisation of floor space, throughput restrictions,
centralised stockrooms, information and inventory management, lean
manufacturing and quick response/JIT disciplines. In the process, they can
significantly reduce operating costs.
Vertical storage and retrieval systems consist
of two primary devices. One is called a vertical carousel that uses rotating
carriers, or shelves, that move on a track (like a Ferris wheel) in response to
operator commands. The other vertical device is a VLM (Vertical Lift Module).
VLMs consist of a series of trays that are mounted on both sides of an
inserter/extractor device. With both the vertical carousel and VLM, items are
automatically delivered to the operator at an ergonomically positioned work
counter, eliminating walking, searching, bending and stooping.
These systems come in a wide range of capacities
and configurations and can be used for a number of storage and retrieval
requirements. There are vertical systems that can easily handle tools, dies and
pallets with each carrier able to accommodate up to 11,025 pounds. Some of
these units are available with up to 210 shelf levels for a total unit capacity
of 2,315,250 pounds. Other vertical storage and retrieval systems are designed
specifically to store small tooling and consumable safety items. “Standard”
vertical storage and retrieval systems can hold items as large as heavy tooling
and sub-assemblies and as small as screws and other fasteners.
When looking at increasing
productivity and leaner manufacturing options you need to consider the
Nature of the
load to be stored
Conventional static storage
systems like shelving require employees to spend up to 70 percent of their time
searching for items. On average, in typical industrial applications,
productivity throughput can increase by more than 2.5 times.
One of the primary reasons for considering a
vertical system is the improved space utilisation they offer. Depending on
useable building interior heights, a significant percentage of a conventional
storage system’s occupied floor space can be recovered. The small unit
footprint makes vertical systems especially valuable for point-of-use storage
and JIT manufacturing applications. Recovered floor space can be re-allocated
from cost-associated functions of inventory to value-increasing production
operations. Improved space utilisation can also extend the useful life of
existing facilities, eliminating the need for expensive brick and mortar
expansion to meet growth requirements.
Redundant or non-essential handling can be
reduced with vertical systems, especially in applications frequent reuse of
tools and dies. The time saved results in less operating costs and improved
customer service. Labour costs are reduced due to the system’s quick retrieval
times and the capability to meet varying throughput requirements while not
being bound by thresholds imposed by limited-access systems. Typically, an
operator’s walk and search time is reversed from that of conventional systems
to 70 percent picking and only 30 percent dwell time.
There are a number of
important factors to consider when planning the installation of a vertical
storage and retrieval system. A properly applied approach to planning and
specifying can substantially enhance the benefits these systems offer. To learn
more contact Kardex Remstar at contact.remstar.uk(at)kardex.com