Optimizing Your Warehouse with AS/RS

Making the case for automation becomes easier as the benefits become more apparent.


Gehl Foods not only nearly tripled their storage space, but also had considerable operational savings.

In addition, Charlotte, North Carolina-based Schaefer Systems International also offers various types of AS/RS equipment. Their specially-designed equipment can function in extreme conditions, such as deep-freezer applications as cold as minus 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 33.33 degrees Celsius).

TGW Systems’ mini-load AS/RS twin-mast stacker crane, Stratus, is one of TGW’s fastest automated storage and retrieval systems, with a max travel speed of 13.1 ft/s (4 m/s) and a max lifting speed of 6.6 ft/s (2 m/s).

“We have consistently pushed the performance envelope of the industry from a throughput perspective,” says Tom Swovick, integrated systems sales manager, TGW Systems, Spring Lake, Michigan. “We achieve this very high performance as a result of our rigorous design and precise manufacturing methodologies.”

Dematic’s Multishuttle can handle many different carton sizes, which can be placed directly onto the rack or the shelf itself. According to Dematic’s O’Farrell, this technology is much more flexible and faster in comparison to mini-load AS/RS technology and can also help sequence and sort the loads.

Swisslog’s Vectura AS/RS is customizable to a number of pallet configurations, such as single, double, triple or multi-deep stacking applications with a max travel speed of 13 ft/s (4 m/s) and a max lifting speed of 5 ft/s (1.5 m/s). The Vectura can also function efficiently in deep-freezer applications down to minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 30 degrees Celsius).

Lakeland, Florida-based Publix Super Market has plans to implement Swisslog’s AS/RS equipment at their distribution center.

“This investment is consistent with our continuing strategy of improving systems and efficiencies that will ultimately reinforce the premier service our customers have grown to know and expect from us,” states Publix vice president of distribution, Richard Schuler, in a press release.

Publix plans to create an automated frozen food storage and distribution center in order to boost customer service and warehouse efficiency.

For Retrotech’s part, their equipment lineup includes their ACTIV High Density Storage System, which sorts units in an exact loading sequence.

“Due to its high-density characteristics, it uses up to 40 percent less space to store the same amount of product as a non-automated system,” says Hartman. “Fast movers are more accessible and slow movers are positioned out of the way, so loads can be staged and sequenced for trailer loading. The ACTIV System is expandable to support future business goals and it integrates seamlessly with other material handling systems.”

The ACTIV System assists food and beverage managers with proper inventory control in addition to lowering overall handling costs.

 

Developing trends

With growing concerns related to food quality and safety along with efforts to reduce spoiled product, industry experts expect to see an ongoing movement towards AS/RS in the U.S. Furthermore, the challenges with staffing a refrigerated warehouse are also pushing warehouse operators to become more semi-automated or fully automated.

According to Bryan Duncan, executive account manager in the automated systems division of Schaefer Systems International, another trend developing in the U.S. is the increasing popularity of rack support AS/RS buildings.

“It’s been around for a while, but it’s becoming more accepted and more mainstream,” he says.

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