A vertical lift module’s cost varies for warehouse managers, depending on their needs and budget. VLMs can dramatically improve picking performance, so it’s worth learning more about cost, how it’s determined, ROI calculation, and more.


How much does a vertical lift module cost?

A VLM’s price varies by size and features, usually between $40K and $160K. A basic one is around $40K, while a larger one with extended storage capacity and more features is over $160K. 

Is the cost to lease a vertical lift module less than the cost to buy a vertical lift module?

Leasing a VLM may be more economical than buying one, as it can be cheaper monthly.

How are vertical lift modules sized and what are the most popular sizes of VLMs?

Typically, VLMs are based on tray width. Sizes vary from 3 feet to 20 feet, with 96″, 120″, and 144″ being the most common.

Is the actual width of a VLM different than the tray size of a VLM?

VLMs are determined by tray width; the machine itself is slightly larger to accommodate the tray, which slides in and out to present items.

What is the height of a vertical lift module?

VLMs come in multiple heights, usually tailored to the ceiling, such as 18, 27, or 36 feet.

 What is the depth of a vertical lift module tray and how does it impact the depth of the VLM?

Trays generally measure 32″ deep. The total depth is a combination of the trays and the elevator between them.

A typical VLM with two trays will have a depth of approximately 10 feet, being double the depth of each tray (32 inches) plus the elevator. Narrower tray and overall VLM depths can be custom manufactured.

What is the weight capacity of a VLM tray?

Most trays have a max load of 660 or 1100 lbs. We make custom trays for higher capacities.

What is the total weight capacity of a VLM?

The weight capacity ranges by size/tray capacity. Standard/high-speed can hold 50 tons; specialty heavy/double can store 100 tons.

What are the most common VLM options?

VLMs have various features and capabilities. Commonly, they include pick-to-light, printing, and barcode scanning. Software can range from basic operation to integration with warehouse management systems (WMS) and enterprise resource planning systems (ERP).

 How much do VLM options cost?

VLM software costs vary, starting at $500 and reaching up to $100,000+. It can be used with a variety of accessories, such as printers, barcode scanners, pick-to-light systems, laser pointers, and LED bars, typically costing around $1000 each.

Is the ability to weigh the tray standard?

All our VLMs come with tray-weighing. They weigh trays every time they enter or exit, with an accuracy of 5-10%. For higher accuracy, advanced weighing tech can be added as an option.

What are the different types of vertical lift modules and how much does each type of VLM cost?

There are three main types of vertical lift modules (VLMs): single lift, twin lift, and double lift. The cost of each different type of VLM is determined by size, weight, capabilities, and options.

  • Our Single Lift VLM typically costs $40,000+, varying depending on size, weight, and features; it lifts one tray at a time.
  • Our Twin Turbo VLM usually costs $5000-$7000 more than single lift VLM, due to a higher-powered propulsion system and elevator which can carry two trays at once. This boosts picking speeds, as a second tray can be sent to an operator while they are still picking from the first.
  • The Double Lift VLM, an adaptation of the twin lift, can hold four trays per layer. It’s slightly slower since it picks up two trays at a time, but has double the storage. This makes it the most budget-friendly option.

You can use our Vertical Lift Module Configurator tool to help determine the right storage solution for your operation.

What is the average picking speed difference between a single lift and a Twin Turbo VLM?

A typical VLM takes 45-60 seconds for batch-picking. Our Twin Turbo VLM offers 30-40% more trays per hour than a single lift VLM.

What are the different types of specialty vertical lift modules? 

We build heavy-duty VLMs, with a tray capacity up to 3000lbs and capable of holding 220,000lbs. These are suitable for storing heavy components such as tools, dies, molds and motors. Wide units of over 12 feet are available to store long items such as pipe and extrusions. 

How is the elevator system of a VLM driven up and down?

The elevator system can be powered with either a belt drive or chain drive. Belt drives are cheaper, while chains are more durable and dependable.

What are the main advantages and disadvantages using a belt drive to drive a VLM?

The use of a belt drive offers two key benefits: no motor is necessary for VLM elevators, and the polymer construction makes it cost-effective. Consequently, it’s the most economical method to power VLM elevators.

A VLM belt drive’s main con is that when it wears out, replacing it can be expensive and complex.

What’s the difference between a VLM with a two-point rack and pinion system and a four-point rack and pinion system?

Our VLMs use a four-wheel drive rack and pinion system, which is the absolute most accurate and reliable type. It’s sometimes a little bit more expensive to produce, but the main advantage is reliability.

Why is a VLM with a four-point rack and pinion system better than a VLM with a four-point rack and pinion system?

The four-point rack and pinion system on VLMs has the benefit of easy servicing since it remains stable when two wheels are removed. In contrast, two-point rack and pinion systems suffer from disruption of contact with the frame whenever a wheel is changed, making tray balancing difficult during maintenance.

What are the different ways to express the cost of a VLM?

A VLM’s price can be calculated in several ways. For example, using storage capacity to divide the cost per square foot, meter, or kilo. It is common to measure cost by number of picks or presentations it allows. As labor costs rise, picks per hour are the best way to measure cost and value. In Europe, the main factor is the cost of conventional storage per stored unit versus the same amount stored in a VLM.

What costs should be included when calculating the ROI for a VLM?

Calculate ROI of VLM by accounting for acquisition, installation, shipping, operation, maintenance costs & training (if applicable).

What are the typical maintenance and maintenance costs associated with a virtual lift module?

VLM maintenance usually focuses on the drive system. Belts must be serviced/replaced at intervals. Chain drives need inspection, lubrication, and adjustment, but can last the entire life of the machine. Rack and pinions require little service, but should be checked and lubed yearly. On some models, drive wheels may need to be replaced after a while.

Contact us for more information about the cost of a vertical lift module

For more info and to talk about your needs, please contact us or use our Vertical Lift Module Configurator tool to help determine the right storage solution for your operation.