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What is a Horizontal Carousel?

The principal concept behind a carousel is that the inventory is brought to the operator rather than the operator going to the inventory. A horizontal carousel is a series of shelving units that move on an oval track. Picture shelves on an oval conveyor. Every unit has shelves which are usually outfitted with various bins or bin boxes to hold and segregate the inventory. These shelves and bins can be configured for a plethora of standard and special applications.

How They Work

A team member simply inputs a bin number, part number or cell location; the carousel then moves via the shortest path to present the part to the operator. For order fulfillment it is common to have multiple horizontal carousels grouped in a pod, integrated with a pick to light technology and inventory management software. Information is downloaded from your system to the carousel-the pod receives a wave of orders, which creates a batch.

The operator follows the indicator lights and picks round robin from the bins on the carousels and then places the items in a station behind them or on a conveyor. As parts are picked, each carousel rotates and pre-positions. With this product to person method, employees do not have to move from their position to select the order. Once the set of orders (batch) is complete, a new batch is downloaded, and the process is repeated until the wave of orders is complete.


Horizontal carousels can be equipped with automatic extractors to boost productivity and can be designed in variable sizes and capacities.

There are specific considerations when deciding on which carousel to use such as:

  • What type of material will be stored?
  • How much floor space and overhead are available. Are there any space constraints?
  • Are your primary goals improved production or saving space?

For fast, efficient and reliable picking, whether in distribution or production, horizontal carousels are the perfect addition to improve your warehouse or plant efficiency.


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