How storage space can be reduced by up to 85 percent
Storage logistics specialists at industrial and retail firms are often confronted with the problem of having only limited storage space which no longer meets current demands due to sales growth. Of course one solution would be to increase the space by erecting new buildings, which is often not possible due to the limited space available and, to a certain extent, the high costs associated with a new building.
In this case, replacing the existing set-up is a promising approach, because the amount of space needed can be reduced significantly with the help of modern storage systems. In addition, the units improve ergonomics for employees in the workspace, which has a positive effect on their health and thus cuts the sickness rate.
Overview of popular storage solutions
Shelves, the original solution for all warehouses, are characterized by their simple and cost-effective design and can also be flexibly regrouped or expanded. The disadvantage of this system, however, is not only the lack of automation, but also the huge storage volume that is wasted due to the fact that the shelves are generally not built that high. In addition, space has to be created for warehouse employees and possibly their vehicles so that they can access the storage spaces. Here, too, more space is not used for its designated purpose – that of storage. For these reasons, it is estimated that 70 percent or more of potential space is wasted by storing goods in this way.
A range of modern solutions is available to redress these deficiencies. These include the following three highly dense storage systems.
In terms of their structure, horizontal carousels most closely resemble the shelving set-up. However, the difference lies in the fact that the units are mounted on a mobile framework which automatically transports them to a central access point where they are met by employees. Accordingly, their use increases productivity by minimizing employees’ time-consuming journeys on foot and also saves space, because there is no reason to keep space free for personnel between the shelves. If they have the same dimensions as the shelving, horizontal carousels can reduce the amount of storage space needed by up to 60 percent due to the highly dense storage method and the fact that there is no longer any need to create space for personnel.
The shelf areas in vertical carousels are arranged on top of each other in a system that works in line with the paternoster principle. Here, too, the goods are transported directly to an access opening which is also installed at an ergonomic height for the employees. This minimizes the potential for back problems caused by constant bending and lifting of heavy loads. In addition, they can be optimally adapted to fit the existing room height in the warehouse, which leads to even better use of the available space. While warehouse staff can only store and retrieve goods up to a height of 1.75 meters on conventional shelving, vertical carousels can easily reach heights of seven or even ten meters. It is no wonder that this solution with its easily adjustable tray height can reduce the amount of space required by around 75 percent compared to static shelving systems.
Vertical lift modules (VLMs)
VLMs serve to optimize the highly dense storage of goods on a minimal footprint. They consist of a self-contained system of two height-adjustable storage units in which trays are stored vertically on the front and rear of the unit. In between is an extractor which automatically conveys the trays holding the goods to the ergonomically positioned access opening at the touch of a button or when a barcode is scanned. Thanks to the modular design the VLMs can be adapted to the required height at any time before or after installation. The number of access openings can also be modified, making it possible to load and unload the units on a number of levels. These models represent the latest form of large-volume storage systems currently in use and can be built up to thirty meters high. This reduces the amount of space needed by 85 percent compared to conventional shelving, which either permits the company to set less space aside for storage or significantly expand its storage capacity within the same available space.
You can find out more about dynamic retrieval systems here.