Recently, there has been an increase in the use of vertical lift module systems for warehousing and order picking, with an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5% from 2023 to 2033.
A vertical lift module system is an automated storage and retrieval system that uses a vertical structure to store and retrieve items quickly and efficiently. These innovative systems use cutting-edge technology to maximize space utilization, improve picking accuracy, streamline inventory management, and increase productivity.
With their advanced features and benefits, these systems are becoming recognized as the ideal solution to warehousing space constraints and increase customer demand for faster order fulfillment and delivery.
Explore the features and benefits of vertical lift module systems, their common applications, and the factors to consider when choosing a system for your business.
Features and Benefits of High Flexible & Intelligent Vertical Lift Module Systems
Vertical lift module systems offer a range of powerful benefits that can help businesses of all sizes achieve greater efficiency and productivity. Some key features and benefits of these systems include:
One of the primary advantages of VLMs is their ability to save space and better utilize vertical storage in a warehouse or distribution center. This space-saving capability is one of the reasons why pallet racking is so popular in warehouse operations.
By storing inventory in vertical trays that a lift module can easily access, these systems can save up to 85% of your warehouse’s floor space needed for storage and picking.
Better Use of Vertical Space
Another key feature of VLM systems is their ability to use vertical space up to 45 feet high. With up to 90 bins in a single unit, these systems provide a highly efficient and flexible storage solution for various types of items.
Businesses can use vertical space to increase their storage capacity without additional floor space. This can be advantageous for businesses operating in areas with high real estate costs, where maximizing space is critical to maintaining profitability.
Improved Picking Accuracy
With the system’s automatic retrieval capabilities, items are brought directly to the operator, eliminating the need for manual retrieval. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of errors and improves the overall efficiency of the picking process.
In addition to automatic retrieval, the system’s control unit can be programmed to guide the operator to the right location to pick the item. This feature further improves the accuracy of the picking process and minimizes the need for rework.
Streamlined Inventory Management
Control units in VLM systems can be programmed to manage inventory levels automatically. This feature ensures that the inventory is optimally managed without any manual intervention.
The system can also alert operators when stock levels are low, which helps ensure that inventory is replenished on time to meet customer demand. By automating the inventory management process, businesses can reduce stock-out risk and adjust more smoothly to seasonal demand fluctuations.
VLM systems can help businesses become more responsive to customer demands by providing quick and accurate access to inventory. This responsiveness can lead to increased sales and customer satisfaction.
The automated system delivers goods to an ergonomic workstation for order fulfillment, reducing the need for staff to handle heavy or bulky items and minimizing the risk of injuries related to manual handling. The system includes various safety features, such as light curtains and emergency stop buttons, that ensure safe and reliable operation.
Components of a Flexible & Intelligent Vertical Lift Module System
With its modular design, a VLM system can be customized to meet specific industry needs and maximize storage capacity. Each component of a VLM is designed to optimize item storage and retrieval, increase efficiency and productivity, and improve your organization’s bottom line. A typical VLM system consists of the following components:
The lift module operates using a motorized carriage that moves vertically along a set of guide rails. The trays or bins are attached to the carriage and are arranged in a vertical array. The motorized carriage is controlled by a series of sensors and a programmable logic controller (PLC) that ensures smooth and precise movements.
When an item needs to be retrieved or stored, the VLM’s software communicates with the PLC to determine the tray’s location. The motorized carriage then moves to the correct position, bringing the tray to the access point.
Carrier trays in a VLM system are typically made of durable materials such as steel or plastic. Steel trays are more robust and can hold heavier items, while plastic trays are lighter and more flexible, making them ideal for storing smaller items.
The size and shape of the carrier trays can be customized to accommodate a wide range of item dimensions, including boxes, totes, cartons, and even odd-shaped items like pipes or rods.
The carrier trays are designed with hooks or clips that attach to the lift module’s motorized carriage, with each tray suspended below the one above it.
Control Unit and Software
The software controls the movement of the lift module’s motorized carriage, and the control unit is responsible for receiving and processing input from the software. This allows for efficient and accurate storage and retrieval of items and real-time inventory tracking and management.
The VLM system is equipped with several safety features to ensure safe operation. Light curtains use sensors to detect the presence of people or objects in the lift module’s access area, and if interrupted, the system will stop moving the trays. Emergency stop buttons are located at various points around the VLM system, allowing operators to quickly stop the system in an emergency.
Additionally, safety sensors monitor the position of the motorized carriage and trays. If a tray is not in the correct position, the system will not move, preventing collisions and other accidents. The VLM system’s software constantly monitors movements and positions to ensure safe operation. If the system detects an error or abnormal movement, it will stop and alert operators to investigate the issue.
Common Applications for Vertical Lift Module Systems
From warehouses and distribution centers to manufacturing facilities and healthcare settings, VLM systems offer a versatile storage solution for a wide range of industries, including:
Warehousing and Distribution Centers
Warehousing and distribution centers use VLMs to optimize storage space and increase efficiency. By automating the storage and retrieval of items, VLMs reduce the time and effort required for manual picking and packing. They also offer real-time inventory tracking and management, improving accuracy and reducing errors.
Manufacturing facilities use VLMs to store and retrieve materials, tools, and components quickly and efficiently. VLMs help reduce the time and labor required for manual picking and transporting, allowing operators to focus on production tasks. They also help keep the manufacturing floor organized and clutter-free, improving safety and productivity.
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Industries
Pharmaceutical and healthcare industries use VLM systems to store and manage critical medical supplies, drugs, and equipment. VLMs help maintain a sterile environment by reducing the need for manual handling of items, ensuring compliance with industry regulations, and minimizing the risk of contamination. They also provide accurate and real-time inventory management, ensuring the availability of critical supplies and improving patient care.
VLMs are used in the automotive industry to store and retrieve parts and equipment needed for production. The system’s space-saving capabilities and automation can help improve efficiency and productivity in the production process.
They are also widely used in aviation parts storage. With the need for precision and safety in the aviation industry, a lift module system can help streamline inventory management and ensure that parts are easily accessible when needed.
At Shelving + Rack Systems, we offer specialized aviation parts storage solutions and advanced automotive module systems that can be customized to fit each client’s needs, helping optimize storage space and streamline operations.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Vertical Lift Module System
When considering a vertical lift module system for your business, there are several factors to keep in mind:
Space Constraints and Installation Location
Space constraints and installation location should be carefully evaluated to ensure that the lift module can easily integrate into your existing space. VLMs require a certain amount of floor space, ceiling height, appropriate power, and ventilation. The installation location should also be easily accessible and strategically placed to optimize the VLM’s performance and enhance your workflow.
It may also be helpful to consider complementary storage solutions, such as some type of warehouse shelving, to maximize space utilization and organization of stored goods within your facility.
Payload Capacity and Tray Size
The payload capacity determines the weight limit the VLM can handle, and it should be sufficient to accommodate your items without compromising safety or performance. Tray size is also crucial since it affects how many items you can store.
Available Software and Control Features
With the rapid advancements in technology, many modern lift module systems offer advanced features like automatic retrieval, barcode scanning, and seamless integration with existing warehouse management systems. Choosing a system with these features can save time, reduce errors, and optimize inventory management.
Maintenance and Service Needs
VLMs are complex systems with moving parts that require regular maintenance and servicing to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Selecting a VLM from a reputable manufacturer such as Shelving + Rack Systems with a strong track record of customer support and maintenance services is crucial to minimize downtime and ensure smooth operations.
Routine maintenance and service checks can help detect and address issues before they escalate, reducing the risk of costly repairs and unexpected downtime.
Budget and ROI
VLMs vary in cost depending on their features, capabilities, and size, and you need to select one that fits your budget and delivers a favorable ROI. The ROI businesses can expect from a VLM system depends on various factors, such as the size and complexity of the system, the cost of labor, and the frequency of inventory handling.
Generally, VLMs help reduce labor costs and improve efficiency by automating storage and retrieval processes, reducing the time and resources required to pick, store, and transport items. VLMs also help improve accuracy and reduce errors, preventing stockouts, waste, and damage. This means businesses can expect significant savings and improvements in productivity and accuracy, resulting in a favorable ROI over time.
While these systems can be a significant investment, the potential for increased efficiency and productivity can quickly offset the initial costs. It’s essential to consider the long-term benefits of a lift module system and calculate the potential ROI to determine whether it’s a worthwhile investment for your business.
Grow Your Business With Vertical Lift Modules From Shelving + Rack Systems
Using vertical lift module systems has become increasingly vital for businesses looking to optimize their warehousing processes. A vertical lift module system can give businesses a competitive edge by leveraging advanced technology to manage inventory better, increase productivity, and save space.
At Shelving + Rack Systems, we offer a comprehensive range of vertical storage systems from trusted brand Modula and other industrial storage solutions to help businesses across numerous industries achieve their goals.
Contact us today at (800) 589-7225 to learn more about how our systems can help grow your business and improve your bottom line. Trust us to provide you with the best vertical lift module system for your business needs.