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Pallet Shuttle

Pallet Shuttle

Semi-automatic compact system that uses an electric shuttle to load and unload the pallets inside shelves quickly and accurately.

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The product

A compact storage system in which a shuttle driven by an electric motor runs on rails inside the storage channels, replacing forklifts, considerably reducing operating times and enabling items to be grouped by channels rather than complete lanes.

The Pallet Shuttle follows orders sent by an operator using a tablet with Wi-Fi connection, depositing the load in the first free placement location in the channel and compacting the pallets as much as possible. By removing the need to drive forklifts into the lanes, storage capacity is increased in terms of depth, the risk of accidents and damage to the racks is negligible, operator movements are optimised and warehouse operation is modernised and made more flexible.

It is an ideal solution for companies with a high volume of pallets per item and intensive loading and unloading activity.

Features

  • Greater diversification: each channel can be used to store a different item.
  • High productivity: increased flow of incoming and outgoing goods.
  • Greater capacity: Storage of up to 40 m deep
  • Highly cost-effective, thanks to the reduction in operating costs.
  • Decreased incidents and maintenance costs.
  • Many advanced functionalities can be easily controlled from the tablet.
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Advantages

Technology applied at top operating speeds

Save space

  • Increased number of pallets in depth: storage channels can exceed 40 m in height; the limit is imposed by the handling means used.
  • The system works with minimal clearances between levels, which allows for high-density storage.
  • Through the use of sensors the shuttles can position loads intelligently, eliminating empty spaces in the storage lanes. As such, the effective capacity of the warehouse (which takes into account flows of goods in and out of the warehouse) reflects its physical capacity.

Save time

  • Loading and unloading times are reduced, since the operator does not need to work inside the lanes.
  • Movement speed of the shuttle of 90 m/min when empty, or 45 m/min when loaded.
  • Load lifting cycle of just 2 seconds.
  • On being given a single command, the shuttle can fill or empty a whole lane.

Increased productivity

  • Increased flow of goods in and out of the warehouse.
  • Unlike conventional drive-in systems, references can be grouped by channel, rather than requiring a full lane, which allows for greater diversification.
  • Optimisation of operator movements. Product-to-person system: this is the load that moves to the operator.
  • While the Pallet Shuttle carries out a command, the operator can collect another pallet, thus achieving continuous movement.
  • Depending on temperature and load conditions, the shuttle has an operational range of up to 10 hours, working at full capacity.
  • The lithium batteries are easily accessible and have fast connections that eliminate the need for cables, so that they can be changed quickly without interrupting the operation cycle.
  • Elimination of errors.
  • The system is easy to use and easy to maintain.
  • A single tablet can control up to 18 shuttles.
  • Inventory function: The shuttle can take stock of the number of pallets stored in a channel.

Save money

The result of the benefits mentioned previously, together with the consumption of energy, is a reduction in costs, making Pallet Shuttle one of the most cost-effective compact storage systems.

Versatility

  • The shuttle has built-in sensors that enable different types of pallets to be detected and handled.
  • The Pallet Shuttle models 1012 and 1212 are able to work with pallets of different widths and sizes. The 1012 model can be used to handle Euro-pallets of 800 or 1,000 mm in width. The 1212 model can be used to handle Euro-pallets of 800, 1,000 or 1,200 mm in width.
  • All shuttles can operate in LIFO or FIFO mode. The operator uses the tablet to select the mode he wishes to work with.
  • The shuttle platform is designed to carry pallets with a buckling limit of up to 25 mm.
  • Any type of handling equipment can be used to carry the shuttle.
  • Up to 1,500 kg per pallet can be handled.
  • It is possible to install Mecalux's Easy WMS Warehouse Management Software on the tablet.
  • The system is scalable. Over time, the number of shuttles can be increased easily as the need to increase productivity arises.
  • Versatility

Safety

  • Thanks to the way that the structure is built, and given that forklifts do not need to drive into the lanes, the risk of accidents is practically non-existent,and the metallic racks are not damaged, meaning maintenance is kept to a minimum.
  • There is a user management feature that prevents unauthorised personnel from using the shuttles.
  • Both the racking and the shuttles have built-in safety features specifically designed to ensure the correct operation of the Pallet Shuttle system: rail end stops, pallet centralisers, position sensors, etc.

Mecalux Guarantee

Mecalux designs and manufactures all the component parts of the Pallet Shuttle compact storage system, including the specific racking structure to ensure optimal movement of the shuttles, and the shuttles themselves.

This guarantees perfect operation and a perfect fit for all the different elements of the system, as well as their quality and compliance with the safety regulations in force in each country.

Thanks to the resources invested in R&D&I, Mecalux's Pallet Shuttle includes the latest technological innovations, offering optimal performance at a very competitive price. It has innovative features, including remote control via tablet, the positioning camera and the safety scanner. Additionally it is one of the fastest systems on the market and can be adapted to the specific needs of any warehouse, making it even more efficient.

Mecalux provides a warranty of five years for the Pallet Shuttle racking structure, of one year for the operation of the shuttle, and of six months for the operation of the batteries.

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About

A way of quickly and regularly transporting pallets back and forth

According to the dictionary definition, a shuttle is a vehicle that travels to and fro between fixed points at frequent intervals. Mecalux's Pallet Shuttle fits this description perfectly, with the route in this case running from the rack's P&D station to the first available space in the storage channel (or the opposite way, if unloading).

At one point, the evolution of compact storage systems raised the following question: Why not make it a motorised shuttle, not a forklift, that enters the storage channel to handle pallets, increasing loading and unloading speeds and optimising the effective capacity of the warehouse?.

The smart answer was Pallet Shuttle: the racking structure is adapted so a shuttle with an electric motor can move along the inside of storage lanes on a track, following the commands given by the operator using a Wi-Fi tablet.

The forklift leaves the load on the track, and the Pallet Shuttle picks it up and moves it independently, storing it in its placement location, all the while keeping the pallets as compact as possible. By removing the need to drive forklifts into the lanes, handling times are reduced, storage capacity is increased in terms of depth, the risk of accidents and damage to the metal shelves is negligible, operator movements are optimised and warehouse operation is modernised.

This is how the Pallet Shuttle system offers a compact storage solution that reduces operating costs and improves performance in the supply chain. Making progress the smart way.

Example of a compact warehouse with Pallet Shuttle
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In Action

Compact semi-automated warehouse with Pallet Shuttle

In semi-automated installations, operators only need to drive the forklifts that carry the pallets and initiate the motorised shuttle's activity. The movement of the shuttles inside the racks is automated.

  • Step 1

    A forklift places the Pallet Shuttle in the channel where work is to be done.

  • Step 2

    Next, the forklift is used to position pallets one by one in the channel entrance, resting them on the load-bearing beams.

  • Step 3

    Using the tablet, the operator sends the command to the shuttle to start the loading operation. Once the location of the pallet has been identified, the Pallet Shuttle lifts the pallet slightly, and moves it horizontally until it reaches the first available location, where it deposits the pallet. Different sensors accurately control the movement of the load being stored.

  • Step 4

    The Pallet Shuttle returns to the top of the lane in order to repeat the operation with the next pallet, and the next, as many times as necessary until the channel is filled. Before the last position is filled, the shuttle is removed and the sequence is repeated in the next channel where work is required.

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Components

Safety and control: The foundations on which the system is built

In addition to the control tablet that communicates orders to the shuttle via Wi-Fi he system consists of two basic components:

Structural components

  • Uprigh

    They are the vertical components can be adapted to a wide range of load requirements.

  • Beam

    They are the horizontal, robust racking components where loads are deposited.

  • Rail

    The Pallet Shuttle runs on rails inside the storage channels. Its design facilitates the loading and the shuttle centred.

  • External rail supports

    These are used to fix and anchor the rail at each load level to the entry/exit frame's outer upright.

  • Inner rail supports

    These fix the rails to the beams on all points except at the channel's entry and exit.

  • Rail-end stop

    Made of folded sheet metal, in an 8-mm thick L-shape, these are used as a detection element to slow and stop the shuttle in normal working conditions.

  • Pallet centraliser

    These are fitted to the entry/exit points in the storage channels to aid in the placement of the unit load in the channel, ensuring it has been centred.

Shuttle components

  • Wheels

    The shuttle runs smoothly along the inner lane thanks to these wheels and, as such, can move the goods.

  • Contrast wheel

    This type of wheels is used to guide the shuttle in the longitudinal direction.

  • Shuttle stops

    Used to prevent possible collisions or incidents resulting from improper use.

  • Aerial

    Receives orders transmitted via Wi-Fi from the control tablet.

  • Safety bumper

    Used to prevent potential jams or collisions.

  • Safety scanner (optional)

    Installed on either side of the Pallet Shuttle to control access to the channels more safely while the shuttle is in operation.

  • Lifting platform

    The system lifts pallets via the platform, facilitating pallet movements.

  • Battery compartment

    Batteries are slotted into the shuttle and power the shuttle's movements.

  • Fault indicator

    This component warns if problems occur with the shuttle.

  • Battery status indicator

    Indicates the status of the batteries to know when it is necessary to recharge them.

  • On/off switch

    On/off indicator.

  • Emergency stop button

    Ensures the Pallet Shuttle stops for any preventive maintenance tasks.

  • End-of-track sensor

    Used to detect the position of the Pallet Shuttle at the ends of the channel.

  • Positioning camera (optional)

    Helps the operator to centre the shuttle between the two rails.

  • Pallet detector

    Used to detect the position of pallets that are loaded on the Pallet Shuttle, or that have been deposited.

  • Locking system

    Ensures the fastening of the shuttle on the lifting blades of the forklift, preventing it from moving during travel.

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FIFO / LIFO

Load management systems

The semi-automated system allows for two types of operation:

  • LIFO (Last In, First Out)

    Where the last pallet loaded is the first to be unloaded. Loading and unloading is carried out from the same side. This is the most common system used with Pallet Shuttle.

  • FIFO (First In, First Out)

    Where the first pallet loaded is the first to be unloaded. Two access aisles are needed: One to load the goods and another to unload them. This FIFO system is relative, or by batches, recommended for the complete loading or unloading of a level.

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Functionalities

Most noteworthy functions

The forklift driver sends orders to the shuttle for storing and retrieving pallets using a tablet with a Wi-Fi connection. Operation is very simple and intuitive, and does not require special training. The most noteworthy functions are:

  • Pallet selector
    Pallet selector

    Selects the type of pallet to be handled.

  • LIFO/FIFO configuration
    LIFO/FIFO configuration

    Selects the load management strategy.

  • Change of P&D station
    Change of P&D station

    Selects which side of the structure you want to work on (in FIFO mode).

  • Locking system
    Locking system

    Activates the additional locking system, which increases contact between the Pallet Shuttle and the truck's lifting forks.

  • Compacting
    Compacting

    Compacts pallets at the beginning (LIFO) or end (FIFO) of the channel.

  • Continuous loading/unloading
    Continuous loading/unloading

    Loads/unloads a channel without interruption.

  • Partial unload
    Partial unload

    Selects the number of pallets to be extracted

  • Inventory
    Inventory

    Counts the number of pallets stored in the channel.

  • Location signal
    Location signal

    Activates the audible and light signals to identify the location of the selected shuttle.

  • Management of users
    Management of users

    Manages user permissions for the shuttles for authorised personnel.

  • Operating mode selector
    Operating mode selector

    Automatic or manual (for maintenance tasks).

  • Shuttle indicator
    Shuttle indicator

    Shows the number of shuttles in operation and their status.

  • Tiltmeter
    Tiltmeter

    Detects the incorrect position of the shuttle within the channel.

  • Rescue
    Rescue

    Recovers the damaged shuttle from within the channel.

  • Position camera (optional)
    Position camera (optional)

    Facilitates the insertion of the Pallet Shuttle on the rails.

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Applications

Automation at everyone's fingertips

In general, the Pallet Shuttle noticeably increases warehouse productivity when working with incoming and outgoing goods with a large number of pallets per discrete item.

As such, it is the perfect option for:

  • Companies with few discrete itema and a large number of pallets..
  • Companies with a high level of loading and unloading activity.
  • Cold storage: It is ideal for warehouses where low temperatures are required, since it takes full advantage of the storage volume and reduces manoeuvring times. The system is even more efficient when automated systems are installed, using stacker cranes or transfer cars.
  • Buffers for temporary storage or picked orders.
  • Seasonal product warehouses, where inflow and outflow depend on the season, and goods are accumulated over a period, until a given moment when they are released in bulk, as is the case for ice creams or toys.
  • Warehouses that already use a compact system and need to access a greater number of items, store more pallets in depth or increase the number of incoming and outgoing movements, thereby increasing their productivity.
Pallet Shuttle moving along the inside of a storage channel
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Gallery

Pallet Shuttle in motion, to perform a retrieval operation The Wi-Fi control tablet has a very intuitive user interface The structure incorporates rail-end-stops to increase safety An operator handling a Pallet Shuttle with a reach truck Front view of the Pallet Shuttle The shuttle moves at 45 m/minute when loaded The batteries are easily accessible and have fast connections that eliminate the need for cables Storage channels reach up to 40 m in depth The shuttle moves at 90 m/minute when unloaded Optimisation of loading and unloading operations The Pallet Shuttle is placed on the level where work is to be done A forklift places pallets one by one in the entrance to the level The Pallet Shuttle slides the pallets horizontally to the nearest available space Once the pallet has been stored, it returns to the beginning of the channel to repeat the cycle Components of the shuttle with Wi-Fi controller The shuttle has numerous built-in safety features Anti-fall device on the base of the shuttle The Pallet Shuttle system allows for references to be grouped by channel Specific structural components for the Pallet Shuttle system The contrast wheels guide the shuttle’s movements along the rails

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