Vertical lift modules (VLM) are automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) that allow you to take advantage of the vertical space in your warehouse. While a VLM is not the only vertical storage solution available on the market, it is one of the most efficient, especially if you have limited floor space.
Automated storage and retrieval systems use technology to increase pick rates, simplify materials handling, and improve worker safety. If you determine that an AS/RS is right for your warehouse, it can save you time and money long term.
Is a VLM Right for You?
To determine whether a vertical lift module is suitable for your warehouse, you need to analyze your operation thoroughly. While the ROI (return on investment) can be high, the initial capital investment may be cost-prohibitive for some warehouses.
As a result, it’s necessary to consider the volumes, sizes, and diversity of the products you process, your budgetary constraints, and the layout and configuration of your warehouse before choosing to automate. You can also determine how a VLM will work with inventory management software to increase the efficiency of your operation.
For example, one of the first dimensional considerations you’ll have to account for is clear height. The clear height is not simply the ceiling height — it’s the distance from the floor of your warehouse to the lowest overhead object — i.e., a sprinkler system, ceiling joist, or light fixture.
Warehouses with high ceilings are more suitable for vertical lift modules and vertical carousels than warehouses with low ceilings. If your ceilings are low, a horizontal carousel is more appropriate.
What are the Benefits of Vertical Lift Modules?
If you’ve determined that your warehouse, budget, and inventory are compatible with a VLM, it’s worth understanding the unique benefits that a vertical lift module can provide your business, including:
Increased storage space
Vertical lift modules maximize storage density, reducing wasted floor space by extending upward. If you have limited horizontal space in your warehouse, a vertical lift module can allow you to effectively increase your warehouse storage capacity. According to your specific requirements, the result is more available floor space for other storage solutions.
Superior ergonomics and safety
You can often customize these specifications according to the needs of your employees. Safety features, such as shutter doors protect workers from interaction with the internal mechanism. In addition, as the VLM is a fully enclosed system, there are no risks of inventory items falling to the floor.
Unlike traditional racking systems, conveyor belt systems, and horizontal carousels, a VLM offers increased security as the contents of a VLM are only accessible to authorized users. Because it is a fully enclosed system, it’s more difficult to breach a VLM than competing technologies.
Increased picking accuracy
Picking accuracy is crucial to long-term success, as it directly affects the order-fulfillment process. Warehouses are constantly seeking new ways of increasing the accuracy and efficiency of picking. When using a VLM, all you have to do to retrieve the tray you need is to input the needed tray number into the user-friendly computerized interface.
The VLM, using the extractor/inserter, will locate the tray in one of the two columns, retrieve it, and place it in the picking window. This can significantly reduce picking errors, which can cause costly delays.
If you need a versatile system that can store and retrieve a diverse range of inventory items varying in size, weight, and dimensions, a VLM is ideal. This system is suitable for everything from small parts to heavy items.
VLMs automatically monitor the heights and positions of storage trays to determine optimal locations, reducing time spent loading and retrieving inventory items.
Visit Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc. for Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems
At Shelving + Rack Systems, Inc., we sell and provide advice on various storage solutions, from industrial shelving units and pallet racks to automated storage and retrieval systems.
We’ve partnered with Modula to provide state-of-the-art AS/RS units for warehouses of all sizes. All Modula’s VLMs are designed with an intuitive user interface that is simple to set up and use. They come with numerous safety features, including physical barriers and clearly marked signage to protect employees. Every Modula unit is completely customizable to meet the needs of your business.
If you’d like to discuss whether a vertical lift module is appropriate for your warehouse, give us a call at (800) 589-7225.