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Publication Date: 09/1/2011
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Saving Space and Time with Vertical Storage and Retrieval Systems
Saving space with vertical lift storage systems.

What is the value of unused space? It can have significant value for organizations that choose to take advantage of it in storage facilities.

Automated storage and retrieval systems, such as Vertical Carousels and Vertical Lift Modules (VLM) take advantage of unused overhead space to recover 60 to 85 percent of the floor space typically required by shelving and drawer systems.

Vertical storage and retrieval systems, such as Sapient Automation's Viper VLM (Vertical Lift Module) and Avenger® Vertical Carousel, are designed with rotating shelves or moving trays which are retrieved in seconds and delivered at an ergonomically positioned window for easy picking or replenishment.

The floor space recovered with the installation of vertical storage and retrieval systems can often be re-allocated from cost-associated functions of inventory to value-increasing production operations. Improved space utilization can also extend the useful life of existing facilities, eliminating the need for expensive square footage expansion to meet growth requirements. Their small unit footprint makes vertical systems especially valuable for point-of-use storage and Just-in-Time (JIT) applications.

Because of their vertical design, these systems can be used to link multiple operations located on different floors, further reducing the amount of space required for storage and retrieval activities while improving workflow.

Saving Time and Money
The space savings benefits of vertical storage and retrieval systems, however, are just a small piece of the savings potential of these systems. There are a number of reasons why reducing the amount of space required by storage and retrieval systems can result in significant savings in time and money.

  • Conventional static storage systems like shelving require employees to spend up to 70 percent of their time traveling aisles searching for items. Vertical automated storage and retrieval systems deliver items automatically to the operator, eliminating wasted walk and search time. The access area of vertical systems is ergonomically designed to present stored items at an ideal height for picking, usually about waist high. Typically, an operator's walk and search time is reversed from that of conventional systems to 70 percent picking and only 30 percent dwell time. In many applications, this reversal of walk and search time can reduce labor requirements by up to 66 percent. Even with a smaller workforce, productivity can increase by more than 2.5 times, on average, in typical applications.
  • Vertical storage and retrieval systems also offer increased picking speed and accuracy when compared with rack and shelving systems. Intuitive controls and software allow organizations to use batch picking and integrated pick-to-light technology to improve throughput up to 500 percent in some applications. With the addition of position indicators, information displays, bar code scanning devices, inventory management and control software, picking accuracy can improve to 99.99 percent while throughput can improve up to 500 percent.
  • Redundant or non-essential handling can be reduced with vertical systems. Throughput improves, and the time saved results in less operating cost and improved customer service. Vertical storage and retrieval systems can be integrated with ERP and WMS software to provide precise inventory management.
  • Since vertical systems are totally enclosed and lockable, they protect products from external hazards and reduce product damage and pilferage. Because of this, inventories can often be reduced. Access to vertical storage and retrieval systems can be controlled and tracked making it easy to keep specific items or groups of items secure from unauthorized personnel.
    "Green" Bottom Line
    Going "green" with sustainable design and construction makes sense for the environment, but it's sometimes difficult to justify.

    • By reducing the amount of space required for storage and retrieval operations, organizations can construct smaller, more energy efficient buildings, shrinking the construction footprint by up to 15 percent in some cases, conserving natural resources and reducing maintenance costs. This improved space utilization helps reduce energy costs, which helps reduce an organization?s overall carbon footprint.
    • The ergonomic location of the access area also contributes to employee safety since this positioning design eliminates the bending, climbing and stretching associated with conventional shelving and rack systems. This can reduce the potential for injuries and the resulting Workers' Compensation claims and workdays lost to recovery.
      Return on investment for a vertical storage and retrieval system is often under 12 months. With current tax credits being offered by the US Federal Government, vertical storage and retrieval systems have never been more affordable. Organizations such as Sapient Automation provide a free Return On Investment (ROI) analysis to show organizations exactly how fast their ROI will be.

    Vertical storage and retrieval systems are designed to significantly reduce to space necessary for storage and retrieval operations, allowing that recovered floor space to be used in revenue generating operations. However, there are other benefits as well, and when those benefits are combined with space savings, the resulting reduction in costs and improvement in productivity can boost the performance of any organization.

    Sapient Automation, a subsidiary of MDCI, provides automated storage and retrieval systems for manufacturing, distribution, warehouses, institutions, retail and wholesale.

    Contact: Sapient Automation, 30 South Pine Street, Doylestown, PA 18902 888-451-9711 or 267-640-8172 Fax: 509-694-2074 E-mail: Web:
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