Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) offer many benefits to your facility’s operations, including enhanced productivity and increased floor space. Vertical lift modules (VLMs) and vertical carousels both supply high-quality storage solutions, but it’s crucial to choose a machine that best aligns with your operational goals.
Vertical lift modules (VLM) are a space-saving storage solution that allows efficient storage without reducing a significant amount of foot traffic. In addition to saving floor space, it streamlines workflow and allows your employees to work quickly and efficiently with fewer stops. Installing a high-storage solution gives your company the opportunity to save over 90% of your warehouse’s floor space. This is crucial for swift employee movement and implementing other automated solutions into your facility. VLMs provide other benefits as well, including:
- Increased speed
- Simple order fulfillment
- Real-time tracking data
- Cohesive work environments
- Maintained workflow
- Simple restocking measures
- Enhanced safety features
- Improved security
Vertical storage carousels are an ideal storage solution for smaller parts and files that you need to access regularly and quickly. Like VLMs, vertical carousels offer many benefits, including ergonomic and high-throughput picking, enhanced security, and maximized storage capacity.
VLM machines and vertical carousels offer similar storage solutions but differ in how they store items, measure up, and retrieve items.
Vertical lift modules obtain two trays with a mechanical inserter/extractor positioned in the center. The inserter/extractor moves up and down between the stored trays to locate and retrieve the wanted items. We like to think of it as an elevator with doors that open in the front and back.
On the other hand, vertical carousels are designed with a series of carriers attached to a chain drive. Similar to the movement of a Ferris wheel, it’s powered by a motor that rotates the carriers in a vertical loop, either forward or backward.
When it comes to machine width, the VLM and vertical carousel are essentially the same. However, VLMs can be twice as deep as vertical carousels, which gives them an overall narrower footprint.
VLMs vary in height depending on the storage capacity needed for your facility; they start at 8 feet tall and can be installed up to 98 feet high. On the other hand, vertical carousels are shorter—starting at 7 feet tall and expanding to 32 feet high.
Although both machines can be built up, it doesn’t mean it’s always necessary. As the machine grows in height, the slower the throughput because it has more ground to cover. Therefore, when choosing the height of your vertical storage solution, it’s crucial to identify how much storage space you need and how quickly you need to retrieve items.
Vertical lift modules can carry up to 2,200 pounds per tray compared to vertical carousels that can handle up to 1,430 pounds per carrier. If you’re looking to store heavier loads, VLMs would be the better option for your facility.
Both VLMs and vertical carousels have similar throughput rates. However, the throughput rate also depends on the machine’s height, a customer’s order profile, and other factors. VLMs typically throughput 350 items per hour and vertical carousels are able to reach up to 400 items an hour.
To reach top throughput speeds, machines must be designed with pick-to-light technology. This shows operators where within the tray or carrier an item is stored to minimize search time.
In addition to pick-to-light technology, slotting is critical for an efficient storage retrieval system. A properly slotted machine ensures the most popular or current items are closer to the machine’s opening, so they’re easier and quicker to access.
When you collaborate with Southwest Warehouse Solutions, you not only have a partner in equipment needs, but you also have a partner in streamlined solutions that align with your company’s budget and facility goals. We’re proud to supply customers with equipment from Modula—a leading warehouse manufacturer—to provide the latest, most advanced warehouse optimization tools.
Ready to work smarter, not harder? Reach out to us today to start maximizing warehouse efficiency with vertical lift modules and vertical carousels.