Top Questions About Horizontal Carousel Systems
Horizontal carousels are a type of automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) used in warehouses, manufacturing locations, and distribution centers that greatly increases picking speed and productivity. Carousels deliver parts and goods directly to the operator or picker, instead of making the picker walk to the location of the goods. Goods and products are stored in bins and shelves in the system which revolve around on a circular track, essentially bringing goods and products right to the operator. When combined with software and pick-to-light displays, horizontal carousel systems allow an operator to pick several orders at one time. While the operator is picking from one carousel, the adjacent carousels automatically position themselves in preparation for the next pick. Using carousel technology, these types of systems allow for a single picker to pick many items at the same time in a fraction of time compared to picking from traditional shelving.
Horizontal carousels are known to offer many advantages over manual picking systems. They can dramatically reduce the time and labor required to pick and store materials, leading to faster order fulfillment and increased productivity. The picking performance depends on several factors, such as the type of products being stored, the size of the system, and the number of carousels in use. However, horizontal carousels can typically achieve picking rates of 150 to 200 lines or more per hour, per operator, compared to manual picking systems, which typically achieve rates of 30 to 40 lines per hour, per operator.
Yes, horizontal carousels can save a significant amount of space compared to traditional storage systems. This is because horizontal carousels are designed to utilize available vertical space, allowing for more goods or materials to be stored in a smaller footprint.
You absolutely can scan goods or products right at the carousel. The picker or operator is able to scan without moving from the workstation.
Carousel pick-to-light displays are a useful tool used with both vertical and horizontal carousel systems to guide operators in the picking process. The system is designed to increase picking accuracy and speed while reducing operator error and fatigue.
When an order is received, the carousel rotates around to bring the correct shelf or bin to the picker. The shelf has a light that lights up when called, as well as a display screen that tells the picker how many of those items need to be picked from that location.
From there, the operator picks the required items and then confirms the pick by pressing a button. After that, the carousel again rotates to the next required shelf, and the process is repeated until the order is complete.
Horizontal carousels can improve picking accuracy by:
- Reducing travel time - Horizontal carousels bring the required items directly to the operator, eliminating the need for them to walk or search for the items in a typical storage system. This reduces the chances of picking errors due to confusion or incorrect item identification.
- Incorporating pick-to-light technology - Many horizontal carousels use pick-to-light technology, where the carousel displays the exact location and quantity of items to be picked. This visual aid helps the operator confirm the right item has been selected and the correct quantity has been picked.
- Automatic replenishment - Some horizontal carousel systems are equipped with sensors that can signal when inventory levels are low, and automatically restock the carousel with new items. This helps to ensure that the carousel is always stocked with the correct items.
- Barcoding and scanning - Many horizontal carousels are compatible with barcoding and scanning systems that allow pickers to quickly and accurately identify the right items to be picked. This reduces the risk of human error.
"Putaway" is a term used to do exactly the opposite of picking - to put products or goods into the carousel system. Once included in the carousel inventory, the products can be picked in an efficient manner.
The number of orders you can pick depends upon many factors, but the answer to the question is basically as many as you like as long as the products can fit into the carousel itself. In general, horizontal carousel systems are designed to handle a high volume of orders with speed and efficiency. Depending on the system and the specific application, pickers may be able to pick several orders at the same time in a single batch, or they may pick orders one at a time if desired.
More than one picking area isn't a problem. Just be sure that all picking areas are properly integrated and coordinated, which is easily accomplished using a Warehouse Management System (WMS). A WMS can organize and prioritize picking activities across several different areas based on factors such as order priority, item availability, and operator availability. The WMS can also track inventory levels and order status in real-time, helping to ensure that orders are fulfilled accurately and on time.
Another approach is to use a combination of picking methods, such as horizontal carousels, vertical carousels, pick-to-light systems, conveyor systems, and manual picking areas, to meet your specific requirements of different types of items and orders. This approach can help ensure that items are picked quickly and accurately, while minimizing errors and reducing travel time between picking areas.
You can absolutely stack horizontal carousel systems on top of each other to make the most efficient use of vertical space in your warehouse or distribution center. This is possible by using a Vertical Lift Module (VLM) system, which consists of a series of horizontal carousels stacked vertically and accessed by a vertical lift mechanism.
The VLM retrieves and sends the proper items to the operator at the correct carousel level, while the carousels rotate to present the appropriate bin or shelf for picking. This allows operators to access a larger number of items without taking up additional floor space.
Although breakdowns in carousel systems are rare, preventative maintenance and inspection is the best way to ensure your horizontal carousel will perform without fail. It is important to perform thorough inspections and routine maintenance on the carousel system, as well as train operators on the proper use and care of the system to prevent break downs before they happen.