The implementation of Horizontal Carousel Storage Systems has increased significantly over the past few years, as warehouses that require solutions for parts delivery, high speed automated picking or sortation applications search for long-term answers. What these systems have enabled companies to do is improve speed of storage and retrieval of goods in a way that is both cost-effective and reliable without having to compromise.
How It Works
A Horizontal Carousel system is, in simple terms, a succession of wire bins and shelves attached to an oval track which rotates to deliver the requested inventory to each individual operator. To ensure complete operational efficiency, they are typically used in pods. A pod consists of at least two horizontal carousels used in a workstation that utilises software and pick-to-light technology. This means when the operator is picking from one carousel, the other is positioning itself ahead of the next pick, shortening operational downtime.
The reason horizontal carousels are used in conjunction with pick-to-light technology is that it allows the operator to be guided towards the exact location of the next pick. The light tree highlights where to pick from next and the exact quantity required.
This is particularly helpful when it comes to batch picking, which used in conjunction with inventory management software, enabling the operator to pick multiple orders simultaneously. For example, when the horizontal carousel displays a stockkeeping unit, the operator can select how many is needed for each order before distributing.
The reduction in search and travel time should mean lower labour expenses, improved order accuracy and maximisation of throughput. Incorporating the horizontal carousel software into an ERP or WCS system will also augment system flow.
Aside from the many operational benefits, one of the main reasons for its increased popularity is the systems adaptability. There are a variety of widths and heights available which allows it to be customised to suit a company’s specific requirements. The ability to double stack opens up the possibility of creating multiple picking zones on separate levels, if installed within mezzanine flooring. The shelves themselves can also be adjusted and there are a number of varying bin heights and widths to choose from.
This flexibility can be implemented to support seasonal periods where higher order quantities are typically more common. For example, if a pod of four horizontal carousels is currently operated by one operator, re-organising this into two double sets makes room for an additional worker. This can be done by simply dividing the pods via the software system, which will in-turn improve speed and of course efficiency.
These type of adjustments become particularly significant for growing organisations, as they can scale up to match customer demand. If they are moving to larger premises, rather than investing in an entirely new system, they can build on-top of the existing process, cutting out additional costs that can prove to be extremely expensive and time consuming.
Of course, this is only a general overview of how a horizontal carousel system works and while we have covered some of the advantages that can be gained, the list of associated benefits are extensive. Installation of the system can also help to increase storage space and allow for a broader and more versatile product range. Perhaps most importantly of all, it will transmit a real-time inventory which will prove invaluable in terms of optimising supply chain productivity.
Changing, or moving to, an automated system is a big step for any business, which means seeing a clear return on your investment is of paramount importance. A horizontal carousel system will not only offer a sustained and reliable service, but create significant improvements to any operation.