Vertical carousels offer numerous business benefits, ranging from increasing available floor space and maximizing storage density to accelerating pick speed, improving picking accuracy, and enhancing workplace ergonomics.
Vertical carousels can increase available floor space and maximize storage density
Vertical carousels are taller than they are wide. That means vertical carousels have a small footprint on the warehouse floor, freeing up valuable horizontal square footage for purposes other than storage. Put another way, vertical carousels optimize overhead air space, which is also known as “air rights.” Air rights tend to be the most underutilized space in factories and warehouses.
Think about a typical warehouse, where the ceiling is 30-feet high. If that warehouse is using static shelving for storage, the shelving units are likely to be only 10-feet tall. That leaves about 20 feet of unused overhead space. Vertical carousels tap into that potential, increasing storage capacity without increasing the footprint on the warehouse floor.
Because they increase available floor space and maximize storage density, vertical carousels can be particularly useful in small spaces. For example, hospital pharmacies are about 2,000 square feet, on average. Not only do medications need to be stored in that space; pharmacists and technicians need to work there, too. White has been able to reduce the storage footprint in hospital pharmacies at least 50% by replacing static shelving with vertical carousels.
Vertical carousels accelerate pick speed
In warehouses that use vertical carousels, operators do not need to walk aisle by aisle to pick product. Instead, inventory is stored in the vertical carousel, and integrated computer software is used to call up product for delivery directly to the vertical carousel’s counter. This creates a true goods-to-person automated storage and delivery system.
White vertical carousels also have a pick-to-light feature that lights up on the counter, identifying the product that’s supposed to be picked, the quantity needed, and the part, serial, or stock number. The operator can then pick the product and scan its bar code, verifying that they are picking the right product and the right quantity at the right time. This process significantly accelerates picking speeds. In fact, one of White’s pharmacy customers reduced pick times by 50% after installing our vertical carousel. (Note: The pick-to-light feature is also known as a put-to-light or tick bar.)
Vertical carousels improve picking accuracy and inventory control
White’s pick-to-light feature directs the operator to the tote they’re supposed to pick. It also identifies the correct bin within the tote and the required product amounts. This is all accomplished by technology that utilizes the data stored in the vertical carousel’s computer. Picking accuracy is critical, especially in hospital pharmacies. Let’s say a pharmacist needs to assemble a week’s worth of medications for a patient. Once the integrated software is programmed with which pills are needed for each day, the vertical carousel rotates and one by one, presents the right medication to the operator, with pick-to-light identifying the correct tote, bin, and quantity.
After the operator has completed a pick, the vertical carousel software can even automatically reduce the quantity of that product on hand in stock. White solutions use radiofrequency ID (RFID) tags that can be placed on each product inside the vertical carousel. These tags allow operators to verify every pick. They can also be used to track inventory, product expiration dates, and other inbound and outbound processes.
Vertical carousels offer ergonomic benefits
Vertical carousels eliminate the need for operators to bend or reach for items when picking. That’s because vertical carousels present product to operators at a counter that is 40 inches from the ground, the height recommended by agencies around the world as optimal for a work source. In addition, when vertical carousels are used, operators do not have to walk the warehouse floor or use a ladder or man lift machinery to access items stored on elevated shelves. Ergonomic benefits like these enhance employee satisfaction and lead to improved warehouse productivity.
Business benefits + White durability and reliability = Significant ROI
White vertical carousels are built to last, and we have many customers that are still using systems we built and installed more than 20 years ago. That durability and reliability combined with all of the benefits listed above creates significant ROI. In other words, averaged out over the vertical carousel’s lifetime, the cost of a White automated storage solution is minimal, compared to the savings possible due to improved warehouse performance.