Researching automated storage and retrieval systems probably starts with asking a lot of questions. To help you out, we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions we hear from potential customers, just like yourself. The answers come from our material handling experts who have been in the business for years, helping (operations managers) optimize their facility to squeeze the most potential and revenue out of their business.
What do automated storage and retrieval systems cost?
This is our number one question – and we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to it: Calculating the Cost of ASRS: 5 Contributing Factors.
The cost of a machine is dependent on system size, environment, stored products, machine controls, software and required throughput. For a general idea, vertical carousels start at roughly $70,000, horizontal carousels at $75,000 and vertical lift modules at $85,000. The labor reduction, space savings and picking efficiencies you gain with ASRS often provides an ROI of under 18 months. We’d be happy to take a look at what it is you’re trying to accomplish and make a solution recommendation that would help you reach your goals.
How do I get the product out of the unit if the power is out?
Unfortunately, if the facility loses power, there’s generally not much you can do. You don’t want your people picking in the dark anyway – it’s a safety hazard. If it’s important to get parts from the system even in a power outage (such as a hospital), a redundant power supply can easily be put into place.
Why automate now? Let’s wait.
Because every day that goes by without implementing an automated solution is another day you lose the ability to realize the savings or additional revenue generated from it. The money you are spending every day is more than an automated solution will cost you on a daily basis. Most companies using automated storage have seen an ROI in 18 months or less.
Let us help you do the justification numbers. You’ll save money, reduce your floor print and gain efficiencies. Why wouldn’t you want to save money and help your employees be more efficient today?
How many parts fit in a machine and how many machines do I need?
To answer this, we need to have someone come give you an estimate specific to your application. It all depends on the size, weight and quantity of what you’re looking to store. The types of products you’re storing will help determine the type of machine you need. To give you a rough idea, typically 60 sections of shelving fit into a 23-foot tall VLM.
At your request, we can come to your facility and measure all your cubic storage, racking square footage and ceiling clear height. Then we can tell you how many units your operations require, the number of trays/carriers in each unit, how much of your product will fit into the system and if you have room for growth. *If your facility has visitor restrictions due to COVID we can perform this evaluation virtually. With your help measuring and our material handling expertise we can spec a solution for you virtually if necessary! *
How does the operator know which item to select?
Using a combination of software and pick to light technology we will help you configure locations for your parts. The inventory management software will know exactly where every item is in the machine. Upon retrieval, pick to light technology will pinpoint the exact location to be picked - increasing your picking accuracy up to 99.9%!
I’m running out of storage space. How do I gain more storage capacity in my existing facility?
Optimize the space you have! In static shelving you’re storing air, you will never get over 50% utilization. Automated storage condenses wasted aisle space and utilizes the complete floor to ceiling height to make the most of the space you have. The integrated inventory management software manages the storage locations - maximizing capacity in a smaller footprint. On average, automation frees up to 85% of your currently occupied floor space.
How can I improve picking accuracy?
Integrating pick to light technology will help machine operators identify pick locations using a light directed LED navigator system. Pick to light technology increases pick accuracy up to 99.9%. Pick verification can give accuracy a further boost by requiring an operator to barcode scan the item to confirm picks and puts.
Can it integrate with our existing ERP/WMS software?
Yes, automated storage systems can integrate with most major ERP/WMS systems. Here is a list of some of the systems we have worked with: SAP, BAAN, Oracle, MS Dynamics, JDE, Maximo, Epicor. Looking for more? We offer flexible integration tools out of the box, allowing us to deliver integration to ERP/WMS systems ranging from the most well-known to those built in house by our customers. Contact us to learn our full integration capabilities.
Have a question we didn’t answer? Let us know and we would be happy to answer it for you.