A popular storage choice across various warehouse settings and industries.
A vertical lift module (VLM) is an enclosed storage system consisting of upright stacks of trays with a centralized elevator running vertically between them. The elevator responds to commands and can automatically retrieve and deliver trays to the operator(s), creating a true goods-to-person pick solution.
The combination of technology and design make VLMs a popular storage choice across various warehouse settings and industries. Since VLMs offer numerous benefits, ranging from increasing available floor space and maximizing storage density to improving efficiencies and reducing labor costs, they can provide a competitive advantage in today’s challenging manufacturing environment.
VLMs Increase Available Floor Space
VLMs have a small footprint on the warehouse floor. They are taller than they are wide, which optimizes overhead air space and frees up valuable floor space for purposes other than storage. In addition, VLMs can be sized and capacity rated to maximize storage density. As a result, White Systems VLMs require up to 90% less floor space than conventional racking.
What size are VLMs? At White Systems, we design each VLM to meet the individual needs of our customers. We designed a large VLM to store aircraft components measuring up to 16 feet long, and that unit is 40 feet tall. Typically, though, VLMs are used to store smaller parts with shelves that are 27 inches high and eight, 10, or 12 feet wide.
VLMs Accelerate Picking
The mechanical elevator that runs between the stacks of trays in a VLM automatically locates and retrieves specific trays as directed by an operator. Generally speaking, items stored in a VLM can be presented to the operator in less than 45 seconds; however, individual throughput rates will vary, depending on VLM configuration and application. VLMs have a wide range of throughput capabilities of up to 500 LPH utilizing a pod of machines.
One of the distinguishing features of a VLM is that its shelves can be customized to accommodate different product heights, maximizing storage density and increasing slotting options for better SKU management. Moreover, multi-column systems can be designed with access for up to six operators, allowing multiple users to retrieve product from the same machine at the same time, with minimized downtime and waiting.
VLMs Improve Picking Accuracy
VLMs are intelligent storage solutions equipped with technology that can help improve picking accuracy, eliminating wasted operator effort and increasing customer satisfaction. For instance, some multi-column VLMs, such as the SILO 2, have a user-friendly and intuitive visual picking solution called I-Ride, which illuminates the particular cell in which an item is stored and instructs the operator where to find the item on the tray.
While I-Ride technology is the most advanced way to access products, there are other options for improving picking accuracy. For example, VLMs can have pick-to-light systems that use light-directed technology to identify product locations or voice automation systems that use verbal commands to drive the operator to a specific cell.
VLMs Provide Ergonomic Benefits
VLMs eliminate the need for operators to bend or reach for items. Because VLMs present items at a consistent location, operators no longer need to walk the warehouse floor or use a ladder or man lift machinery to access items stored on elevated shelves. VLMs can even adjust tray deliver height to accommodate different operators. Ergonomic benefits like these enhance employee satisfaction and lead to improved warehouse productivity.