Automated storage systems are a great investment for any business looking to streamline item storage and retrieval, and they also open up additional storage space by storing items vertically rather than horizontally. When you don’t have to worry about humans having to directly access item shelves, you can cram a lot more items into the same space!
While there are numerous automated storage systems you might invest in, they are going to broadly fall into two categories: vertical lift modules (VLMs) and vertical carousels. Here’s a quick breakdown of their differences, and when each would be appropriate.
I. Vertical Lift Modules vs Vertical Carousels: What’s the Difference?
In short, the difference between lift modules and carousels is what’s actually moving.
With a vertical lift module, you have two sets of static shelves, with a retrieval mechanism running on a track between them. You key in the item you want, then the retriever moves up and across, grabs the item, and returns it to you.
With a vertical carousel, the shelves themselves are hooked into a mechanism that rotates the entire set of shelves either clockwise or counterclockwise. The bottommost shelf is usually the one you have access to, while the others are often sealed away.
II. The Benefits of Vertical Lift Modules
The two main benefits of VLMs are that they are better at storing heavy items, and at storing a mixture of items of different sizes. VLMs can handle heavier objects than a carousel since the items don’t move much. VLMs can also be physically larger than carousels, potentially up to 100ft high.
Additionally, most VLMs have smart onboard software that allows them to self-optimize storage space based on item sizes vs available slots. The smartest VLM can practically organize your inventory for you! Of course, such features cost money.
III. The Benefits of Vertical Carousels
Vertical carousels are best when you have a mixture of smaller / lighter items which your staff can hand pick from. They are, for example, excellent in garages and workshops that need a compact way of storing lots of parts and tools. They’re faster and more intuitive to use. In addition, they’re often going to be less expensive than VLMs.
Optimize Your Storage With MFT!
Material Flow Technologies is dedicated to creating and implementing optimal bespoke storage automation technologies. Contact us directly to consult on your storage optimization options.