The term automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) has been around in cold storage since the 1950s, but advances in technology mean that interest has surged in recent years.
An ASRS system is one that uses equipment and controls to handle, store and retrieve materials automatically with speed and accuracy, with no direct input from a human employee. They are used as an alternative to conventional warehousing systems that require forklift truck operators.
ASRS systems are made up of one or multiple parallel aisles, multi-tiered racks, stacker cranes, input/output stations, accumulating conveyors, and a central computer system. The most common ASRS storage system is known as unit-load. It is designed to handle unit-loads stored on pallets or other standard containers using automated stacker cranes. Other kinds of ASRS systems include deep-lane, miniload, man-on-board, automated item retrieval, and vertical lift storage modules (VLSM).
Advantages of the ASRS racking system include improved inventory control, improved efficiency, and cost-effective use of space, time, and equipment. The systems are generally used in facilities that handle a high volume of loads, with high storage density due to space constraints, where accuracy is essential, and no value adding content is present in the handling of the product. The availability of skilled technicians to manage and repair the system is essential, whether they are on-staff or easily contactable.
Facilities that are kept at particularly low temperatures are also good candidates for ASRS systems. The efficiency of these facilities can suffer due to staffing problems and downtime such as warmup breaks for forklift operators, as well as degradation of equipment that frequently moves from low temperature to high temperature environments.
To work out whether an ASRS system would be beneficial for your business, follow this simple process. Analyze the existing design and framework of your facility, determine whether your operation is suited to automation, and weigh up the long-term cost savings against the initial installation cost.
Automation and ASRS systems are currently more popular in European cold storage facilities due to land and labor premiums that are higher than in the United States, but it is worth evaluating the potential benefits for your facility given its specific characteristics. Areas with high land values and unionized labor forces are particularly well-suited.
The expert team at A-N-C Cold Storage Construction is always researching the latest developments in the cold storage industry. We will happily answer any queries about how ASRS systems could make your business more efficient and profitable.
To find out more about our services, download your free cold storage design guide today.