At a certain point, retrofitting is not recommended if an existing building is too small, Berres explains. “For the most part, you can improve your storage capacity by up to 50 percent in large cold storage DCs with the use of mobile racking and the Orbiter.” While the average cold storage building is about 40-feet high, the Orbiter can operate in facilities up to 120-feet high.
When PAS-Americas began receiving requests for help from customers contemplating various types of logistics technologies to deploy in their warehouses, PAS commissioned third-party independent consultants to review its solution versus other ASRS provider solutions, reports McCarthy. “They compared our cart-based automation with manual racking systems and crane-based ASRS solutions and their conclusion was that our solution yields a 90-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions vs. a manual racking system—and a 60-percent decrease in carbon dioxide emissions vs. a crane-based ASRS solution. The reason for this is that the power draw on our equipment is significantly less than anything else on the market. The other reason is our technology can be deployed in existing operations and there is no need to build a new facility, whereas many other automated solutions require a new facility. Our solution maximizes the space within existing buildings.”
The secret behind these high efficiencies is patented cart-based technology operating highly engineered yet simple componentry. “Each component is designed to do just one thing simply and efficiently,” McCarthy explains. The solution is comprised of four components: an SSC (System Staging Carousel) cart, a row cart and aisle cart, and the PowerStor module housing a vertical lift device to raise and lower the SSC cart carrying a pallet in or out. The system operates in a loop, picking up in one or several locations and dropping off at one or several locations. The process from start to finish takes about 30 seconds. “The first time after production that a human has to touch the pallet is at the dock door.
This is how it works. A pallet moves to an SSC cart designed with a high-efficiency motor, and from there it is transferred to the PowerStor module onto a lift device, which lifts the pallet to meet up with the tandem-working aisle and row carts.
“The aisle cart is designed to bring a pallet down an aisle and the row cart moves the pallet to the appropriate row,” McCarthy says. “Very little power is required for each of these components to do its job efficiently because each component is moving the weight of the pallet primarily. For instance, when you are using a crane, you need a lot of power not only to move the weight of the pallet, but to move the large column of steel as well. So the more complex and versatile equipment is, the less efficient it is because of the huge drain on power it requires.”
Flexibility is another advantage. “Crane-based automation is inflexible,” notes McCarthy. “Once you design a facility around crane technology, when you turn it on, you cannot change the rates at which products go in or out. With our solution, if your rates double we can install additional SSC carts, lifts, and row and aisle carts to increase the throughput of your facility because our solution is completely component-based.”
McCarthy cites a recent implementation in a 120,000 square-foot building 32-feet high with 13,500 pallet locations. “This customer previously had a manual system before deploying our PowerStor solution.” The average utility costs for this facility before the PAS system was installed was about $612,000—which included the cost of operating all the lift trucks, and heating, cooling, and lighting the facility; and they were spewing out 3,086 tons of carbon dioxide annually. “With our system, however, their utility costs annually decreased to only $70,000, with 354 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”
As the green initiative began to take hold on the industrial scene about four years ago, companies began to be more concerned about environmental responsibility, says Laura Worker, marketing manager for Westfalia Technologies Inc. in York, PA. “We wanted to be able to respond to this interest with our Satellite rack-entry vehicle offering a number of features making it a green solution, primarily due to its capability to provide storage up to 12 pallets deep in a lane. This means that we can provide a solution that can be applied in a much smaller building footprint and we don’t have to be concerned with turning a fork lift because our aisles are narrower and we can store more in the racks.”