Benefits of Using a Vertical Sequencing Module (VSM) in Your Warehouse
When it comes to improving the performance and efficiency of your order fulfillment operation, there are few ways to do this better than by leveraging automation technologies. Not only does automation increase your throughput, efficiency, and productivity, but it also lowers your labor costs, sometimes dramatically, and can help your business become even more profitable.
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That being said, warehouse automation is an investment. Like any investment, it’s critical to maximize your ROI. Leveraging a vertical sequencing module (VSM) within your operation is one way that you can optimize the performance of your other warehouse technologies (such as mini-loads, shuttles, and AMRs) and dramatically increase your return on investment.
What is a Vertical Sequencing Module (VSM)?
A vertical sequencing module (VSM) is a solution used to automate the sequencing and buffering of totes within an operation.
Vertical sequencing modules are capable of storing five totes across, and a standard VSM can stand up to 65 feet tall, though additional heights may be available. This allows you to save valuable floor space by utilizing otherwise unused vertical space, while at the same time realizing the benefits of sequencing and buffering.
A vertical sequencing module is utilized to augment and optimize existing technologies already being leveraged within your operation.
For example, consider an operation that leverages mini-loads, shuttles, or AMRs in its picking process. If orders and totes must be sequenced manually, this reduces the throughput and floor space utilization that can be achieved by those systems. Leveraging a VSM for sequencing and buffering, on the other hand, frees up those other systems to realize higher throughputs. A VSM is simply a less expensive and quicker system to use for sequencing, and offers floor space savings that the other technologies wouldn’t. By implementing a VSM, it’s possible to use those other technologies to greater efficiency than if you were to try and use them for sequencing in addition to their primary purpose.
While a VSM may look and sound very much like a vertical lift module (VLM), it’s important to note that they are very different technologies. While a VLM leverages tray storage, a VSM leverages an inserter/extractor and moves totes within the system individually.
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Benefits of a Vertical Sequencing Module
Leveraging a vertical sequencing module within your order fulfillment operation can allow you to realize a number of powerful benefits. These include:
- Reduced Labor Costs: Up to 2/3 reduction in labor costs associated with sequencing and buffering. This is especially critical during the time of COVID-19, when labor is unreliable, but will continue to be important into the future.
- Small Footprint: Up to 85% savings of floor space, due to the fact that it leverages vertical space, while also reducing the need for a recirculation conveyor. This makes the technology especially helpful for small and growing operations.
- Low Acquisition Cost: The acquisition cost is minimal compared to many other technologies.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of leveraging a vertical sequencing module in your operation is that it empowers your other systems to be more efficient and effective. Simply put, mini-loads, shuttles, and AMRs are much better suited for picking and transporting product than they are for sequencing and buffering. By implementing a technology specifically designed for the purpose of sequencing, it’s possible for your other technologies to live up to their full potential. This will lead to greater and faster return on investment and increased profit in the long run.
Understanding How to Incorporate a VSM in Your Operation
Ultimately, whether or not it makes sense to incorporate a vertical sequencing module in your operation for the purpose of sequencing and buffering will depend in large part on the specifics of your operation. Important considerations include your throughput requirements, internal workflows, and which (if any) other automated technologies you are already leveraging within your operation.
If you are considering a VSM for your business, a trusted and impartial systems integrator can help you understand your options and chart the best path forward for you to reach your goals of increased efficiency and lower costs.