Making the Most of Overhead Space in Distribution Centers

Making the most of the floor space available in distribution centers is of the utmost importance, and finding storage as well as active picking slots for those SKUs that tend to move more slowly has many shippers looking for unused space. Many are finding that overhead space can be a great way to avoid having to expand the building itself, and using such space often comes with the additional benefit of boosting the speed, accuracy and productivity o fulfillment.

One good option is installing a mezzanine level. This creates extra floor space, although it does require another level of operation and constriction. A far simpler option is the use of vertical lift modules and vertical carousels. These technologies offer high-density vertical storage solutions that occupy a very small footprint. They also give you better control over inventory while supporting product-to-person order fulfillment strategies.

Vertical Carousels vs. Vertical Lift Modules

In a vertical carousel, a series of carriers are used that rotate in a vertical fashion within a closed loop. All of the inventory that is stored in the carousel moves when various parts are picked and replenished. This means that the weight has to be distributed in a careful manner to avoid unbalanced loading, which can lead to the overloading of the drive unit.

Another problem with vertical carousels is the fact that as inventory is moving around the bottom and top parts of the enclosed loop, the shelves need to rotate in order to stay level and avoid spilling inventory. This means a special cam follower mechanism must be used.

In a vertical lift module, on the other hand, only the required tray will be moved to the pick station. These options also have lower requirements when it comes to motor horsepower and drive components, and they also need far less maintenance than vertical carousels.

Although the different solutions all have their own set of advantages and drawbacks, making use of vertical storage can help speed up order fulfillment and optimize the use of space.

This blog post was based off of an article from Supply Chain Digest. View the original here.

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