A crane with a forklift type mechanism used in automated (computer controlled) warehouses (known as an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS)). The crane moves on a track in an aisle of the warehouse. The fork can be raised or lowered to any of the levels of a storage rack and can be extended into the rack to store and retrieve product. The product can in some cases be as large as an automobile. Stacker cranes are often used in the large freezer warehouses of frozen food manufacturers. This automation avoids requiring forklift drivers to work in below freezing temperatures every day.
The range of stacker cranes adapts easily to the needs of each warehouse in terms of load capacity, dimensions, building height and cycle times, and so is able to cover a huge range of applications.
- Automation of the entry and exit operations of products.
- Controls and updates the inventory.
- Eliminates manual management mistakes.
- Automation reduces labor costs while lowering workforce requirements and increasing safety
These systems can be adapted to special working conditions such as freezing temperatures (-30 °C), extreme humidity or special features including the possibility of increasing standard working speeds.
A fixed-aisle AS/R machine (stacker crane) is one of two main designs: single-masted or double masted. Most are supported on a track and ceiling guided at the top by guide rails or channels to ensure accurate vertical alignment, although some are suspended from the ceiling. The ‘shuttles’ that make up the system travel between fixed storage shelves to deposit or retrieve a requested load (ranging from a single book in a library system to a several ton pallet of goods in a warehouse system). The entire unit moves horizontally within an aisle, while the shuttles are able to elevate up to the necessary height to reach the load, and can extend and retract to store or retrieve loads that are several positions deep in the shelving. A semi-automated system can be achieved by utilizing only specialized shuttles within an existing rack system.
Storage and Retrieval Machines pick up or drop off loads to the rest of the supporting transportation system at specific stations, where inbound and outbound loads are precisely positioned for proper handling.
The benefits of a Stacker Cranes include reduced labor for placing items into and out of inventory, reduced inventory levels, more accurate tracking of inventory, and space savings. Items are often stored more densely than in systems where items are stored and retrieved manually.
In addition, there are several types of Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems (AS/RS) devices called Unit-load AS/RS, Mini-load AS/RS, Mid-Load AS/RS, Vertical Lift Modules (VLMs), Horizontal Carousels and Vertical Carousels. These systems are used either as stand-alone units or in integrated workstations called pods or systems. These units are usually integrated with various types of pick to light systems and use either a microprocessor controller for basic usage or inventory management software. These systems are ideal for increasing space utilization up to 90%, productivity levels by 90%, accuracy to 99.9%+ levels and throughput up to 750 lines per hour/per operator or more depending on the configuration of the system.
Efacec Handling Solutions S.A. offers wide range of Automated Material Handling Equipments includes Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS), Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs), Conveyor Solutions as well as Baggage & Cargo Handling Systems, Automated Distribution Centers, Order Fulfillment Systems and Baggage Handling Systems, SCADA Supervision Software.