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Picking the best carousel

12 December 2012

Few companies fully appreciate how varied carousels are, but with guidance, you can find the best fit, says Keith Couzens of Couzens Storage Solutions The term carousel is often used to describe other systems that are

Few companies fully appreciate how varied carousels are, but with guidance, you can find the best fit, says Keith Couzens of Couzens Storage Solutions

The term carousel is often used to describe other systems that are not strictly speaking carousels. But what they all have in common is that by storing materials on densely packed trays or shelves in virtually solid cubes of storage, they make enormously efficient use of space - as well as providing more secure storage than traditional racking or shelving. And as the required materials or products are delivered automatically to a designated picking face, they make order picking a far faster and more accurate process.

Every machine can within some limits be designed around the user's individual requirements, providing a bespoke solution and one that can make maximum use of the last inch of available storage space.

As a result carousels are being used to store anything from small, fragile and high value components up to steel sheet, cable, jigs and awkwardly shaped components - and even carpets, wallpaper rolls and printing cylinders.

The vertical carousel is the design that most readily comes to mind, and one ideal for storing high volumes of small to medium parts and components in bins, totes, boxes or cartons.

Storage carriers attached to a chain driven system rotate inside a steel framework in units reaching up to 12m high can save up to 80% of the space needed for conventional storage. The operative calls up the required carrier or part number, which is delivered to the picking port at a comfortable picking height.

Horizontal carousels employ a similar concept to vertical carousels but the storage media - usually shelving bays - rotate front to back rather than up and down. This approach provides highly effective storage in areas where headroom is limited and can present an entire storage bay for picking instead of a tray.

They are often installed on or under mezzanine floors where both the floor loading and headroom sizes and are ideal for small parts to bulky goods.

The Modula Lift is an advanced, computer-controlled vertical lift storage, picking and retrieval system. Ideal for storing a variety of goods of different dimensions in a single unit, it automatically selects and transports items to and from the operator, delivering improved productivity, faster picking and lower costs. Badge and password protection entry systems are built into the software, strictly controlling access to both the Modula Lift and its contents to authorised staff.

Options include the facility for the tray to be presented outside the lift structure providing access for lifting equipment when handling heavy or awkward parts; and a twin tray design that presents two trays at the same time for faster pick and place operations.

Storing heavy, bulky items and raw materials such as metal sheet and bar is not a task immediately associated with carousels.

However designs such as the TowerMat Vertical Lift system are able to accommodate exceptionally large and heavy items. Units up to 14m high can hold up to 900,000kg and individual cassette loads up to 5,000kg and measuring 6x2m.

As such items are beyond manual handling, the TowerMat presents goods by extending the storage tray with a powered cart from the front, side or rear of the unit, from where items can be safely handled by overhead crane or fork truck.

Multi-Loop Paternosters use rotating steel carriers to hold some of the most difficult items including cable reels, cylinders and rolls. Unlike almost any other bulk storage concept,Multi- Loop Paternosters can be configured to make effective use of space in the most challenging situations. Often neglected areas such as under a sloping roof, between pillars or deep, inaccessible corners can all be used for productive storage.

Like most modern, automated storage systems, today's carousels can be equipped with stock management software to communicate with MRP and ERP systems, as well as hardware accessories such as readers, printers and other equipment such as password, biometric scanner and security card entry systems as part of a complete package.

The expertise of a specialist supplier such as Couzens Storage Solutions, with the experience of working for clients such as EDF Energy, E.ON, GlaxoSmithKline and Sunseeker, should ensure the selection of the most costeffective and suitable systems.