Goods-to-person storage strategies for small and medium-sized goods translates into time and labour savings, and, as such, more efficiency. An operator does not need to move around the warehouse. Instead, he or she only needs to take out units from each box or container the automated system brings to the workstation. Below, it explains the diverse solutions used to house and supply product units. An article about the goods-to-person Stacker cranes for boxes system might also be of interest.
Vertical lift modules
The main feature of vertical storage systems is maximum height usage in a small area.
A vertical lift module is comprised of a closed structure, similar to a giant cupboard, with locations inside at the front and a storage area where special trays house the goods.
Goods-to-person vertical storage module
A vertically moving shuttle runs between the two columns filled with storage positions. The system can be up to 15 metres high and hold two tray models, one that is 7.2 metres deep and another 9.6 metre deep one, which can be between 2 and 4.2 metres long (approximately).
Each tray can hold anything from asingle SKU or more than one hundred SKUs, depending on the size and configuration being used. The trays can be mesh-like, have specific drawers or small sized, adaptable compartmentation.
When an operator selects the SKU they need on the screen, the shuttle moves vertically up to the level the product sits at. It extracts the tray and moves it, also vertically, to an opening set up in the structure at the level of the picking station. Then, the operator must extract the units they need from the corresponding tray.
Parts of an automatic vertical lift module:
2. Product position indicator (optional)
Vertical lift modules
Within vertical lift module systems, there are also carousels. These vertical systems consist of a structure with a series of vertically rotating shelves, hooks, etc. where goods are housed.
The carousels provide adaptable storage for a variety of products. In this case, it shows a vertical carousel for reels.
Other than vertical lift modules, there are also horizontal ones. These solutions use a mechanical system to take goods to the operator, who is tasked with extracting them without moving from their workstation.
The system consists of a machine set up inside a structure with guide suspended from compact modules that, likewise, are joined together. The guide is oval shaped, which is why the modules move in a horizontal motion.
A horizontal carousel is considered a high throughput picking machine. Different aids can be attached to them to streamline this operation, such as pick-to-light and put-to-light devices, secondary screens, confirmation buttons, multi-order tables and barcode readers.
A major inconvenience of horizontal carousels is the difficulty in replenishing the goods it houses –which can only be done when orders are not being prepared. As such, they are usually just allocated to medium turnover (B) products, and in some cases, low turnover ones (C); this depends, in any event, on the size and turnover of the goods. These solutions are rarely used to house high turnover products (A).
Automatic horizontal carousel.