Warehouse Automation Part 3: Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS)

For Part 3 of the Warehouse Automation series, we will talk about Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (AS/RS). If you missed the previous posts, be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems are just that – automated systems that efficiently and securely store items in a compact footprint. They also allow users to easily and quickly retrieve items when needed. AS/RS can also be known as, dynamic storage systems, high-density storage and retrieval systems, and goods-to-person picking technology.

Several companies manufacture a wide variety of self-contained, goods-to-person, automated storage, and retrieval systems. The technologies handle different volumes, types of pallet or non-palletized inventory at variable speeds to accommodate varying throughput demands. Companies need to keep in mind both the storage density of their facility needs as well as their throughput needs.

How They Work

AS/RS systems are computer-controlled systems that store and retrieve product in distribution centers, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. Because of the computer technology involved, AS/RS creates a very accurate form of inventory control with a limited number of employees necessary to manage a facility. These system loads are strategically delivered via automation upon demand without the use of manual labor.

There are two different systems: Unit-Load and Mini-Load Systems. Unit Load AS/RS systems are bigger systems that typically store pallet loads. While Mini-Load Systems which pick form a smaller system and footprint.

Unit Load AS/RS by viastore SYSTEMS / CC BY-SA
Miniload AS/RS TGW Mechanics GmbH by Thomas Philippi / CC BY-SA

The Benefits of AR/RS Systems

Compact Footprint

  • AS/RS technologies provide highly dense storage and can save an incredible amount of floor space typically occupied by shelving.

Reduced Labor Requirements

  • AS/RS requires far less labor to operate when compared to traditional warehouse shelving.

Improved Pick Accuracy

  • AS/RS technologies use pick-to-light technology to direct the operator to the exact location of the stored item, achieving 99.9% pick accuracy rates.

Paperless System

  • Along with the benefit of increased efficiency, it is also important to note another benefit of a paperless picking system, operators save time by eliminating the steps of dealing with traditional paper-based, record keeping.

Commonly used components for Warehouse Automation systems:

What are some other benefits of warehouse automation? Let us know your thoughts on Warehouse Automation below!

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