How to Use a Horizontal Carousel in Your Warehouse
When it comes to warehouse automation, there are a plethora of potential technologies and solutions you may be able to leverage to increase efficiency, decrease costs, and build a more profitable business. Goods-to-Person (G2P) technologies have proven especially effective in a range of applications.
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One goods-to-person technology that you may wish to consider implementing in your operation is horizontal carousels. Below, we take a look at what horizontal carousels are and how they work, explore their benefits, and discuss some alternative technologies so that you can make a truly informed decision about which is best for your operation.
What is a horizontal carousel?
A horizontal carousel is an automated storage and retrieval (AS/RS) system and a form of goods-to-person technology consisting of a series of bins that are supported by an oval track. The bins are fitted with shelves which can be adjusted as necessary to account for inventory, or can be removed altogether to handle items such as hanging garments, drums, totes, boxes, and more.
Typically, multiple horizontal carousels will be grouped together to form a single pod or workstation. This pod is integrated with a batch pick station and pick-to-light technologies in order to facilitate an extremely efficient batch picking system.
The video below demonstrates how an operation might leverage horizontal carousels for zone order consolidation:
Types of Horizontal Carousel Systems
There are multiple types of horizontal carousels that you might leverage within your operation for a variety of purposes. For example,
- Traditional or Standard Horizontal Carousel: This refers to the technology described above. These are typically grouped together into a pod or workstation and leveraged for batch picking operations. The number of carousels needed per workstation will depend on your throughput requirements. Goods can be picked by either a human worker or a robotic arm.
- Put Horizontal Carousel: This variety works in much the same way as a put wall, only instead of a wall it consists of a carousel of bins. It is often leveraged for returns or consolidation within an operation.
- Robotic Horizontal Carousel: This is a fully robotic picking option. The carousel rotates the desired bin to an inserter/extractor, which picks the proper tote as necessary. The tote is then placed on a conveyor, which routes it to its next location within the facility.
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How to Use a Horizontal Carousel in Your Facility
As mentioned above, horizontal carousels can be leveraged to perform a number of different activities within your facility. These include order fulfillment, consolidation, returns, and buffering.
Leveraging horizontal carousels for batch picking offers some of the greatest benefits. This is because within one full rotation of every carousel within the pod, an entire batch of orders can be picked. This eliminates time spent walking and searching for inventory, dramatically improving productivity. And because the carousels can be integrated with pick-to-light or augmented vision technologies, accuracy is also increased significantly.
Benefits of Using a Horizontal Carousel
Implementing a horizontal carousel within your operation will allow you to realize a number of benefits. These include:
- A reduction of up to two-thirds of your labor requirements
- A saving of up to 65 percent of floor space compared to other solutions
- Throughput of up to 550 lines per hour
- Carousels can encompass columns and building obstacles, converting wasted space into prime warehouse space
- Relatively low deployment costs
If you are unsure of whether or not the horizontal carousel is the right decision for you, there are a number of other technologies that can be leveraged in similar ways. For example, shuttles, mini-loads, and put walls can all be used to perform similar functions as to how you might leverage a horizontal carousel.
Increasingly, autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are being leveraged as a form of goods-to-person technology in a very similar manner to horizontal carousels. The Conveyco Go-Fer Bot is an AMR which delivers bins to a workstation very similar to a horizontal carousel. Likewise, the Stacker-Bot is essentially a form of robotic flow rack which essentially retrieves totes of inventory and brings it to a pick location. Each system has their pros and cons and your application should be analyzed to determine which system is best for your organization.
Are horizontal carousels the right technology for your operation?
Horizontal carousels can help you realize tremendous efficiency boosts. Ultimately, however, whether or not you should deploy horizontal carousels or an alternative technology in your operation will depend on a number of factors, including the types of inventory that you process as well as your throughput requirements and available floor space.
A trusted systems integrator can help you understand your options and guide you to the solution that makes the most sense for your business. Contact us today to speak with a member of the Conveyco Team.