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Small Load Storage and Retrieval Equipment

Reported by Shanice Dianna Javier

Small load storage and retrieval equipment is classified as operator-to-stock (OTS, sometimes
referred to as ma-to-part or in-the-aisle systems) if the operator travels to the storage location to retrieve
material and as stock-to-operator (sometimes referred to as part-to-man or end-of-aisle systems) if the
material is mechanically transported to an operator for retrieval. Stock-to-operator equipment is
mechanically transported to an operator for retrieval. Stock-to-operator equipment types often offer higher
productivity, easier supervision, and better item security and protection than operator-to-stock option.
1) Operator to Stock Storage Equipment
The three principal operator-to-stock equipment types for housing small are bin shelving, modular
Storage Drawer in Cabinets and gravity Flow Rack. To improve space utilization, each of the storage
systems can be incorporated into mezzanine or mobile storage configurations.

a) Bin Shelving is the oldest and still the most popular (in terms of sales volume and number of system
in use) equipment alternative in the use for small parts order picking. The low initial cost, easy
reconfigurability, easy installation, and low maintenance requirements are at the heart of this
Savings in initial cost and maintenance may be off-set by inflated space and labor
Space is frequently underutilized in bin shelving, since full inside dimensions of each unit
are rarely usable.
Two additional disadvantages of bin shelving are supervisory problems and item
security/protection problem.

b) Modular Storage Drawer in Cabinets are called modular because each storage cabinet houses
modular storage drawers that are subdivided into modular storage compartments. Drawer height
range from 3 in. to 24 in. and each drawer may hold up to 400 lb worth of material. The primary
advantage of storage drawers/cabinets over bin shelving is the large number of SKUs that can be
stored and presented to the order picker in a small area. The cabinet and drawer suppliers inform
us that one drawer can hold from 1 to 100 SKUs and that a typical storage cabinet can store the
equivalent of 2 to 4 shelving units worth of material.

Several benefits acquire from the high-density characteristics of this system are:
Space cost are reduced
Reduction in travel time and labor requirements
Improved picking accuracy

c) Gravity Flow Rack - used for active items that are stored in fairly uniform-sized and shaped cartons.
The cartons are placed in the back of the rack from the replenishment aisle. This back-to-front
movement ensures First-In-First-Out (FIFO) turnover. The flow racks costs depends on the length
and weight capacity of the racks. Has low maintenance requirements and wide variety of standard
section and lane sizes from the variety of suppliers.

d) Mezzanine. Bin shelving, modular storage cabinets, flow rack and even carousels can be placed in
a mezzanine. The advantage of using mezzanine is nearly twice as much material can be stored in
the original square footage, inexpensively.
Selection of proper grade.
Design of material handling system to service the upper levels.
Utilization of clear height (atleast 14 ft of clear height should be available.)

e) Mobile Storage. Bin shelving, modular storage cabinets, and flow rack can all be mobilized. The
most popular method of mobilization is the train rack method. Parallel tracks are cut into the floor,
and wheels are placed in the bottom of the storage equipment.


Sliding the equipment along the tracks
Turning a crank
Invoking electric motors

The disadvantage to this approach is the increase in time required to access the items.

2) Operator to Stock Retrieval Equipment in operator-to-stock alternatives, the operator either walks
or rides a vehicle to the pick location. The four retrieval options distinguished here include picking
carts, order picker trucks, and person-aboard as/r machines.

a) Picking Cart. A variety of picking carts are available to facilitate the accumulation, sortation, and/or
packing of orders. The carts are designed to allow an order picker to pick multiple orders.

Most Conventional Vehicles Provides: Additional level of sophistication and cost:

Order sortation Powered carts
Place to hold paper work Light-aided solution
Marking instruments On-board computer terminals
Step ladder On-board weighing
b) Order Picker Truck (Cherry Picker or Stock Picker) - allows an operator to travel to retrieval
locations well above the floor level. In doing so the operators productivity is reduced.

Productivity can be enhanced by minimizing vertical travel through:

Popularity-based storage
Intelligent pick tour construction

c) Person Aboard Automated Storage/Retrieval Machine an automated storage and retrieval

machine which the picker rides aboard the s/r machine to, from and between retrieval locations.
This machine may be aisle captive and free roaming. The person aboard AS/R machine offers
square footage reduction and order picking time reduction.

3) Stock-To-Operator Equipment
The major difference between stock-to-operator and operator-to-stock is to answer this questions,
does the operator travel to the stock location? Does the stock travel to the operator? If the stock travels
to the operator, the equipment is classified as stock-to-operator equipment.
The most popular classes of stock-to-operator equipment are carousels and miniload automated
storage and retrieval machines. A more expensive, yet highly productive class automated dispensers.

a) Carousels - are mechanical devices that house and rotate items for storage and retrieval.
i) Horizontal Carousel - linked series of rotating bins of adjustable shelves driven on the top or
on the bottom by a drive motor unit. Rotation takes place about an axis perpendicular to the
floor at between 80 and 100 ft/min.

Operators control the rotation by:

Manual control via keypad and foot pedal
Computer controlled
A management option with carousels is the flexible scheduling of operators. Horizontal
carousels vary in length from 15 100 ft and in height from 6-25 ft. One important
disadvantage of horizontal carousels is the item security and protection of the item.

ii) Vertical Carousel is a horizontal carousel turned to its end and enclosed in sheet metal.
Carousels are indexed either automatically via computer control or manually by the order
picker working on keypad. Vertical carousels range IN HEIGHT FROM 8 FT TO 35 FT.

Benefits provided by vertical carousels are:

Decrease on the retrieval time
Excellent item protection

iii) Independent Rotating Rack - each level rotates independently. As a result, several storage
locations are ready to be accessed by the operator at all times.
More common applications of IRR:
Remote order picking
And/or order or kit staging
Each level must have its own power and communication link to operate independently.

b) Miniload automated storage system and retrieval machine a miniload S/R machine travels
horizontally and vertically simultaneously in a storage aisle, transporting storage containers to and
from a picking station located at one end of the system. The order picking stations has two pick
positions as the order picker is picking at the left position the s/r machine is taking the container
from right position back to its location.
The sequence of containers to be processed is determined manually by:
The order picker keying in the line item number and rack location on the keypad.
The sequence generated & process automatically by the computer control.
The transaction rate capacity of the miniload is governed by ability of the S/R machine that
travels 500 ft/min horizontally and 120 ft/min vertically.
c) High density vertical storage- new addition to the family of S/R equipment. System range in height
from 15 ft. to 35 ft. High density vertical storage offers many of the benefits of miniload system at
a reduced price.

d) Automatic dispenser - each item is allocated in a vertical dispenser ranging from 2 in. to 6 in. wide
and from 3ft. to 5 ft. tall. Merchandise is accumulated at the end of the belt conveyor into tote pan
or carton. A single dispenser can dispense at a rate of up to 6 units per second.

Design for automated dispensers are:

Polybagged garments