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There are two distinct types of carousel storage units. Horizontal storage carousels rotate and store product in a horizontal plane. Vertical storage carousels rotate and store product in a vertical plane. A third type of system, called a Vertical Lift Module (VLM) or “Shuttle”, looks similar to a vertical carousel and stores product in a vertical plane but has distinct differences and productivity advantages not found in carousels.
The primary advantages all of these systems offer are:
- built-in position sensing controls that present a specific storage bin or shelf to the operator on demand and;
- elimination of non-value added worker travel time in the item selection and stock put-away process
Typical Carousel Workstation
Carousels and shuttles can be controlled manually by an operator, but they provide the greatest productivity gains when coupled with:
- batching software and hardware that presents order selection cartons, totes or kits to the operator and automatically interfaces with the carousel movement;
- software that automatically locates and advances the next product to be picked to the carousel operator workstation;
- picking displays that tell the operator how much to pick of each item and;
- put displays that tell the operator how many of each item to place into each kit or container
Our ULTRAPICK software and ULTRABATCH hardware can dramatically increase throughput for most carousel picking operations. SEE THE VIDEO HERE or DOWNLOAD THE BROCHURE HERE.
Picking from a Horizontal Carousel
Horizontal carousels have storage bins with shelves hanging from trolleys. The carousel bins are hooked together and travel around an oval-shaped horizontal track. Horizontal carousel units usually aren't enclosed.
Typical Horizontal Carousel Picking Display
Picking software is commonly used to automatically advance the next pick location to the operator and pick displays or lights tell the operator how many items to pick from a location on each horizontal carousel shelf. For a demonstration of this process, watch our Horizontal Carousel Video.
Typical Vertical Carousel
Vertical carousels are essentially horizontal units that rotate in a vertical plane. Vertical carousel units are enclosed in a metal housing and have an opening to store and pick goods through. Vertical carousels provide the same features as horizontal units with the added benefits of better utilization of vertical building space and better security provided by the unit's enclosure. To learn more, watch our Vertical Carousel Video.
Vertical Lift Modules (VLM) or "Shuttles" are similar to vertical carousels in appearance and basic function, but that's where the similarities end. VLMs don't rotate product to the operator position like carousels. Goods are stored on individual trays in a vertical lift module. The trays are moved between operator workstations and storage locations of the unit by an internal shuttle device. This operation has several automation advantages over a carousel:
Vertical Lift Module (Shuttle)
Multiple-floor VLM Shuttle
- The tray containing the item for the next pick in a vertical lift module can be moved directly to the operator position - often quicker than a carousel can
- One VLM unit can extend through several floors of a building. Operator workstations can be located on each floor and on either side of the unit
- Because VLMs can have multiple operator positions, product replenishment can take place at the same time items are being picked
- Since the storage trays aren't physically attached to the shuttle unit, an entire tray can be removed from and later placed back into a VLM unit
- Shuttle trays can be stacked and stored much closer together within a VLM unit than vertical carousel trays. This makes shuttles more space efficient for storage of mixed size items as well as for very small items
- Vertical lift modules automatically sense the maximum height of loads on each tray and use that information to store them in the most space-efficient manner
- As your needs change, trays can be quickly and easily added to or removed from a shuttle unit to maximize its capacity for the current goods in storage
Like carousels, vertical lift modules can be equipped with light-directed picking to tell operators which items to pick and where they're located on each tray. To learn more, please watch our Vertical Lift Module (Shuttle) Video.
As one of Kardex Remstar's largest authorized US dealers, Integrated Systems Design can analyze your needs and provide you with the best storage unit and software to meet your automation requirements. As a full service dealer, we sell, install and service all Kardex Remstar products and can offer you both new and “experienced” units.
Vertical Carousel or Shuttle Picking Display