Warehouse Automation: AutoStore Delivers 4x Increase in Cube Utilization for Greenfield and Legacy Warehouse Storage Needs

AutoStore offers a modular approach to automated warehousing and fulfillment.

Given epic shortages of warehouse space across North America as well as globally, it is no surprise that automated warehousing systems such as AutoStore are becoming increasingly popular for both greenfield and legacy warehouse facilities.

hatteland bThe ultra-space-efficient, high-performance AutoStore® automated warehousing system, presented its largest trade show display to date at the recent MODEX 2016 show. Boasting six robots, two carousel ports and operating with a 50 square meter grid, the live system offered attendees a glimpse of how AutoStore can store up to 400 percent more merchandise in the same space as a conventional warehouse, while also improving retrieval times, reducing energy costs and boosting security. Appropriately, the company slogan is “Stop airhousing – start warehousing.”

Each AutoStore system is comprised of five standardized modules, including grid, robot, bin, workstation, and controller. Because of modular design, the system can meet current storage requirements while providing a scalable solution for increasing storage needs in the future. The modular approach also allows AutoStore to be installed in irregularly shaped facilities, as long as the floor is level.

“We have simplified the technology over time,” explained Magne Hatteland, sales engineer for the company. “There is only one moving part, and that is the robot. They perform all of the digging of bins, all of the transportation. We now have the sixth generation robot, and they are extremely reliable.”

Hatteland aAutoStore’s grid-based structure optimizes available storage capacity by eliminating the need for travel lanes, empty shelves, and underutilized space. Fast robots driving on the top of the grid dig out goods stored in the stacks of bins below. Bins are put-away, re-ordered, accessed and delivered to the workstation required. Accessed bins are left on the top of the stack, so that higher velocity items are accessed more quickly, resulting in improved efficiency. Inventory access is guaranteed as each port and robot work independently and can be serviced without shutting down the entire system.

Hatteland states that while a three-year ROI is typical, it really depends on the application. For one of their customers in Singapore, facing a capacity crunch and an inability to expand, ROI was achieved in five months.

There are more than 100 AutoStore systems implemented in 21 countries across five continents, Hatteland states that AutoStore is the most rapidly growing automated material handling solution in the world. AutoStore is compatible with any warehouse management software (WMS). It can rapidly access all inventory data, resulting in shipping accuracy close to 100 percent, while dramatically increasing picking rates.  

In addition, AutoStore can help reduce energy requirements. Ten robots require the same energy to operate as a single vacuum cleaner, while heating and lighting requirements are reduced. As well, the fully enclosed environment in which the bins are stored acts to enhance warehouse security.

AutoSstore can benefit any industry that can store its goods in its bin system. Popular applications include apparel and small parts. E-commerce providers have found AutoStore to be particularly attractive in that extra modules can be quickly added as throughput increases, without disrupting operations. “You can add to the system without losing a day’s work,” Hatteland elaborates.

The heavy-duty reusable plastic bins are critical to the success of the AutoStore system, Hatteland explains.  (Read more about the Hatteland crate). They must be able to handle the relentless manipulation of being picked up by robot grippers as well as bearing the weight of a stack of loaded bins resting on top, for a service period last many years.

Hatteland is represented in the U.S. by Bastian Solutions and Swisslog.

For more information, visit www.autostoresystem.com.