Horizontal carousels are versatile and they can be adapted to solve a variety of different storage and distribution challenges. For example, horizontal carousels can be stacked to maximize storage density within a small footprint.

They are also routinely used in cold temperature warehouse environments and for the storage and distribution of heavy loads. Horizontal carousels can also be customized with special features such as fire suppression.

Horizontal Carousel Variations and Special Features

Horizontal carousels can be stacked to maximize storage density

For certain applications, two or three horizontal carousels can be stacked on top of each other. The compression weight holds the stack together, and operators can pick product off each mezzanine level, as items are conveyed up or down, either with a conveyor or a vertical reciprocating conveyor. Each horizontal carousel in the stack can rotate independently, clockwise or counter-clockwise, whichever direction is needed for optimum efficiency. Double- and triple-stacking horizontal carousels by themselves or in a pod can maximize picking efficiency while minimizing storage footprint. In certain instances, a storage robot, or “store bot,” can be added to pick items and then bring them either to a conveyance device or to an operator. These store bots can be particular useful for inhospitable warehouse environments (e.g., a meat packing plant where storage rooms are cold and dark) and/or where products are heavy or otherwise unsafe to pick.

Horizontal carousels can be used in cold temperature environments

Horizontal carousels are becoming increasingly common in the pharmaceutical and meat packing industries where products often need to be stored and picked refrigerated or frozen. Comprised of rugged, relatively simple mechanical components, horizontal carousels do not have many wear parts, making them ideal for various temperature environments.

Horizontal carousels can be built to move heavy loads

Horizontal carousels can be designed with a single piece of plate metal all the way around. Turned by big, heavy steel wheels, this plate can support heavy loads, including pallets of products, large automotive components, etc. This can be advantageous if a customer orders 29 skids of product and wants to come into the warehouse and inspect them before taking ownership. The skids can be picked onto the carousel, and the customer can walk around to check each one. After that, a fork truck can easily move the pallets from the carousel to shipping. Warehouses that take this approach have reduced fork truck traffic because the horizontal carousel can bring pallets of products directly to customers.   

Fire suppression in automated storage solutions

Some automated storage applications require fire suppression features. Typically, these features involve water, but they can also involve chemical fire suppression or other specialized methods (e.g., altering the atmosphere in these enclosed environments with nitrogen or argon to remove oxygen). In vertical carousels, fire suppression systems are usually installed in the middle of all the shelves as they go up or in the top of the carousel itself. For VLMs, it is also common to put fire sprinkler and extinguishing systems in-between all the racks. For horizontal carousels, we typically run, in accordance with the customer’s requests, fire suppression systems between the faces of the carousels, so that there can be multiple tiers with multiple dispersion units. In grid systems, fire suppression usually involves saturation with water and can be quite complicated, depending on where in the cube the fire has started.

Horizontal carousels can be controlled manually or by computers

In certain situations, horizontal carousels can be controlled manually by operators using hand or foot switches that can move the carousel left or right, up or down. This type of manual control is suitable for lower pick rates in less complex warehouse environments. More commonly, however, horizontal carousels are controlled by computer software. Combining horizontal carousel hardware with warehouse management software means that orders can be controlled by a supervisor or an operations manager and then processed by operators using batch picking or single picking. In high order environments, computer-controlled horizontal carousels can enable picking at rates as high as 200 lines or more per hour. These accelerated rates are possible because the associated software is able to consolidate orders so that orders of the same items can be picked at the same time.


Horizontal carousels can help improve inventory management by integrating with legacy MRP and ERP systems

Combining horizontal carousels with warehouse management software enables replenishment and picking using whatever method works best for each business. For example, in some industries, date codes or freshness codes are a top priority, and inventory must be managed using a “first in, first out” approach. Alternatively, for other industries, a “last in, first out” approach is optimal. The software can be customized with rules appropriate for different business challenges, and it can be integrated with legacy MRP and ERP systems. At SencorpWhite, our goal is to provide solutions, not just equipment. We take a real systems approach and are able to design hardware and software to meet your business needs.

Optimizing slotting and batch picking to accelerate pick rates

Fast pick rates are possible when computerized warehouse management solutions optimize and integrate slotting and batch picking. Slotting is the term used to describe how items are physically stored. For maximum efficiency, the fastest moving items should be the most ergonomically accessible for picking—typically, that’s 42 to 46 inches high off the floor. Likewise, the slowest moving items should be stored in less accessible locations. Once slotting is optimized, batch picking becomes more efficient. With batch picking, the most items common to multiple orders are pulled together and arranged in a queue so that “batch” can be picked. Slotting and batch picking are optimized when horizontal carousel hardware and warehouse management software are integrated and customized for your business application.