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Pre-requisites to be considered before carton shuttle’

Do we need to consider some prerequisites while implementing an automated system like a carton shuttle?

In Goods to person systems like carton shuttle shelving, orders are store, picked, and retrieved in a hodgepodge before delivering to the customer. This system has contributed to increasing the overall throughput of picking, allowing the businesses to meet their customer demands through improved order accuracy. However, to successfully deploy these systems, a few critical calculations such as process throughput, space capacity, product profile, operating plan, etc along with the technical requirement such as mentioned below need to be done carefully.

An Analysis before implementation

A thorough analysis and inspection of the warehouse, understanding the current throughput and operation is required to be done before even proposing the carton shuttle solution. It also requires a detailed report on the existing process with the average time of order fulfillment and concluding how the implementation of carton shuttles can improve the productivity and hence remove process bottlenecks like delayed order or improper inventory control.

How to compare & calculate carton shuttles productivity?

The throughput calculation considers the current SKU pace, average units fulfilled per order, and provides the expected process accuracy to be achieved by deploying these automatic systems. Interestingly, these systems are capable of picking orders of say 300 picks per hour whereas the traditional manual order picking may bid for utmost 100 picks per hour per operator. Also, these systems provide the flexibility to increase the throughput by adding more of such systems into the fulfillment center which then conflicts with the operating space available. So, space capacity is another such scrutiny that needs to be addressed before implementing the system. To get higher throughputs, increasing the height of the aisles to the maximum permissible height,i.e, 100 feet can harm the overall accuracy of the order fulfillment.

Number of SKUs –

Especially industries like E-commerce, retail, spare parts division, fulfillment centers where there are large no. of SKUs are there & product profile contributes plays a major role in determining which products need to be handled by these systems. Because these systems have technological limits on the dimensions of products and their weight, hence they need to be considered while designing automated goods to person systems.

Aisle depth:

To increase the scalability in the future, aisle length of this system can be expanded to a staggering 100 meters, depending on the volume and required throughputs, however, a deep study has to be done on the load flexibility of the single- or multi-deep storage of containers, trays, and cartons of various sizes.

A few more points to consider before installation are:

We shouldn’t ignore the mundane yet important technical requirements such as

  • Installing tracks,
  • Limit switches,
  • Network interfaces and,
  • Integration with industry’s resource management software (WCS or even WMS) with utmost focus on safety examinations.
  • Laying tracks with aligned electrical Busbar and a steady power necessity of 230 VAC, 50Hz and single-phase constitutes the primary installation desideratum after setting up the aisles, and, besides, it also necessitates the positioning of barcode labels. These barcode tapes are used by carton shuttles for distance measurements, and if the placement of these barcodes is not coordinated, they may result in poor distance measurements and in turn, affects the positioning correction by the system.
  • Along with track installation, the system also needs safety forethoughts such as placement of limit switches and external caging with automated door locking mechanism, usually, a magnetic coil-based door locks for aisles containing shuttles.
  • Software Solution – while considering the integration of WMS solutions with carton shuttles demand installation of network APs across the critical network drop locations with access to the shuttle’s server. Finally, the installation prerequisites narrow down to one last step of configuring the shuttle’s network devices and tuning the drive parameters.

An advance and scalable carton shuttle system enable accelerated picking, order sequencing and order fulfillment, driving the storage efficiency through the ceiling. With Addverb, being the first largest manufactures of carton shuttle in India, we bring a diverse and wide industry exposure in implementing a carton shuttle system. To know more reach us at automate@addverb.in

What are vertical lift modules and how can they fit your warehouse?

Have you ever imagined your cupboard to be automatic? An automatic storage space where you just need to press a button and Voila! you have your required item served before you. But why do you need an automatic cupboard at the first place? May be not. But automation matters when there are a number of items to store and you need them in your hand really quick. A warehouse or a factory is a place where the above utopia will become a hysteria.  A vertical lift module is the technology that makes the above system possible. You must have seen elevators with doors that open on both the front and rear side. Similarly, VLM consists of two columns of trays, parallelly facing each other and a mechanical extractor between them like the elevator. The mechanical extractor travels up and down between the columns automatically retrieving and storing the items from these trays stored on the columns. In warehouses, inventory is stored in these columns and by entering the tray number on the built-in control pad, the extractor triggers and retrieves the items from the columns by intelligently detecting the location of that item. This operation is applicable for extraction as well as replenishment of material inside the vertical storage module.

Necessity and Invention, an old lore!

Manufacturers across the globe supply a wide range of products and hence manage the inventory of these wide range of product profiles. From slow movers to fast and from small items to large, material handling approaches vary if these manufacturers are to maintain efficiency. There are various technologies available for fast moving items but medium and slow movers also required a technology to sync with the level of operation.

Some of the leading manufacturing industries including automotive, metals and heavy machinery, semiconductors and electronics, and aviation started using VLMs for the storage and retrieval of components and raw materials which are either slow or medium movers. At present, almost 18% of the VLM is used by automotive end-user sector. Suppliers in this industry focus on managing large inventory effectively and also seek to reduce additional cost incurred due to damages in parts. They also intend to improve the storage capacity within the available floor space. These factors lead to the increase in adoption of VLMs in the automotive industry.

Is it your cup of tea?

Although designed primarily for storing and retrieving slow to medium-moving products, VLMs (Vertical Lift Modules) are important components on the system side of supply chain flow. It is one of the best solutions for the facilities where the ceiling height goes up to 100 feet and have heavy items that require lifting assistance for the operator to handle them safely.

Those industries where the inventory mix changes very frequently, and the stored parts record highly variable sizes and weights.

VLMs are used most often for order picking, consolidation, kitting, parts handling, buffering, inventory storage, buffer storage, and numerous other similar operations.

How does it make an impact?

Over the next five years the Vertical Lift Module (VLM) market will register a 7.9% CAGR in terms of revenue. The global market size will reach US$ 474.1 million by 2024, from US$ 350.2 million in 2019. The usage of VLM is industry agnostic but at the same time process specific. It is basically developed to optimise the picking operations of a workspace. The innovative automated storage technologies and vertical module will save your team both time and resources in your picking operations. Below are some brownie points which can deliver the ergonomics to operations with a touch of a button on a control device:

  • Vertical space utilisation: In order to match storage requirement in a facility, these VLMs can be built as high as the available y-axis overhead space, which otherwise be wasted. It is ideal for reducing the floor space requirements for stored materials. This reduction of valuable square feet can be as much as 90% compared to the traditional shelving system.
  • Enhanced Productivity: VLM reduces the wait time after a pick. Once the picker completes one picking operation, the next closest required item gets delivered. This eliminates the requirement of memorising the location of an item by a picker and makes the operation many times faster and approximately 200-400% more productive.
  • Safety: It tremendously reduces operators’ risk as everything inside is automatic. The obstacle detecting sensor mechanism makes it a complete safe technology to be used for a picking and overall order fulfilment operation.
  • Seamless Integration: VLMs can be used stand-alone or with the existing Warehouse management system software to manage the space and utilization of units, which allows you to easily manage the automatic vertical warehouse and all the information systems in one simple, convenient location.
  • Minimise Damages: The system ensures almost zero damages, caused while handling the items in a picking process while maintaining a smooth traceability of each and every item inside the vertical storage system.

Considering the benefits mentioned above on a quite macroscopic level, VLM is the best technology or tool to meet each organization specific business and warehouse requirements. With its compact size, it is ideal for storing and picking items such as electronic components, pharmaceuticals, and tools. It is best applicable for slow to medium moving order fulfilment applications as part of a facility and organization which is emerging in its industry in terms of scale and trying to hit the “benchmark” level performances!