In times of global economic crisis and raging expenses on gas, electricity, rent, and just about everything else around us, efficiency is a term growing in popularity.
Energy efficiency, efficiency in the food production cycle, and re-selling old clothes and second-hand furniture are all about the concepts of efficiency and environmental friendliness.
But if you’re doing GREAT in business and experiencing exponential growth, you’ll still be facing some financial obstacles despite your success. Maybe you need to rent more space for your storage for the season, or you’ve simply outgrown your current capacities.
Regardless of the reason, you’d be facing hefty charges that would put you in doubt: should I really invest and rent more space, and risk cost-efficiency in the long term?
The vertical lift module is an asset that brings efficiency when discussing warehousing and storage capacity. It’s the replica of an eco-friendly environmental friend for budget-friendly warehouse operators, and we’ll explore all about this awesome gadget, how it penetrated the market and why you must have it.
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What is a Vertical Lift Module (VLM)?
A vertical lift module, or VLM, is a revolutionary storage and retrieval system designed to optimize warehouse space and enhance the efficiency of inventory management. It represents a significant advancement in the field of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and has gained widespread popularity in modern warehouse operations.
Origins of the Vertical Lift Module:
The history of the vertical lift module is a testament to human ingenuity and the relentless pursuit of efficiency in warehousing.
1960s: The Inception of VLM
The VLM concept as we know it today took shape in the 1960s, when German engineer Horst Dambacher introduced the first patented VLM system.
Dambacher’s invention marked a pivotal moment in the evolution of automated warehousing solutions. His system, known as “Paternoster,” was a vertical carousel-style storage and retrieval system. It consisted of rotating shelves that moved up and down, allowing operators to access stored items easily.
1980s: Technological Advancements of VLM Technology
The 1980s witnessed substantial technological advancements in VLM technology. Companies like Kardex Remstar and Hänel began refining and commercializing VLM systems, incorporating computer-controlled automation and retrieval systems. These advancements improved the efficiency and accuracy of VLMs, making them more attractive to various industries.
1990s: Widening Adoption of VLM Technology
By the 1990s, VLMs had gained significant traction in industries ranging from manufacturing and distribution to healthcare and retail.
The benefits of vertical storage, reduced labor costs, and improved inventory control became increasingly apparent. Thus businesses started embracing VLMs as a critical component of their warehouse optimization strategies.
The Elements of a Vertical Module Lift
The basic construction of a vertical lift module consists of several integral elements designed to work in harmony and optimize space utilization while streamlining inventory management.
- Vertical Carriage: At the core of a VLM is the vertical carriage, a robust structure that houses the trays or bins. This component is responsible for the vertical movement of trays within the system, providing the foundation for efficient storage and retrieval.
- Trays or Bins: The trays or bins within the VLM are the individual storage units where items are organized and stored. They come in various sizes to accommodate a wide range of items, from small components to larger products.
- Shuttle System: A shuttle system, often integrated within the vertical carriage, facilitates the horizontal movement of trays. This feature enables precise positioning of trays at the access point, ensuring quick and accurate retrieval.
- User Interface: VLMs are equipped with user-friendly interfaces that allow operators to interact with the system easily. Operators can input retrieval requests, monitor inventory, and access important system information through this interface.
- Safety Features: Safety is paramount in VLM design. Elements such as safety sensors, emergency stop buttons, and collision detection mechanisms ensure the protection of both operators and stored items.
- Control Software: Advanced control software serves as the brain of the VLM. It manages inventory, optimizes storage space, and orchestrates the retrieval process with precision. Real-time monitoring and reporting capabilities enhance warehouse management.
- Vertical Lift Mechanism: The vertical lift mechanism, typically based on a system of belts, chains, or other reliable technologies, raises and lowers trays within the VLM. This mechanism ensures smooth and efficient vertical movement.
- Access Point: The access point is the interface where operators retrieve items from the VLM. It can be ergonomically positioned at a comfortable height, minimizing operator strain and improving efficiency.
- Inventory Management System Integration: Many VLMs come equipped with inventory management software that seamlessly integrates with other warehouse systems. This integration allows for real-time tracking of stock levels, order processing, and demand forecasting.
- Modularity: VLMs are designed to be modular, allowing for easy expansion and customization as your warehouse needs evolve. Additional carriages, trays, or even entire VLM units can be added to accommodate growing inventories.
How the VLM Works
At its core, the vertical lift module is a tall, vertically oriented structure containing a series of trays or bins. These trays are designed to hold and organize a wide range of items, from small parts to larger, bulkier items. The VLM operates on the principle of dynamic storage and retrieval.
Here’s how it works in the most basic concept, without the additional software and systems that can be installed for enhanced functionality.
- Item Storage: Items are placed into trays within the VLM. Each tray is designated to hold specific items based on size, weight, and other factors.
- Automated Retrieval: When an item needs to be retrieved, the VLM’s automated system goes to work. It uses computer algorithms to identify the tray containing the requested item.
- Vertical Movement: The VLM utilizes a vertical lift mechanism to raise or lower the selected tray to the access point, making the required item easily accessible to the operator.
- Item Retrieval: The operator retrieves the item from the tray at an ergonomically convenient height, eliminating the need for strenuous manual labor and reducing the risk of workplace injuries.
Benefits and Key Advantages of Vertical Lift Modules
Now that you are familiar with the basic principles of functioning and construction elements of vertical lift modules, let’s see why they are so popular.
- Space Optimization: VLMs make the most of vertical warehouse space, significantly increasing storage capacity without the need for extensive horizontal expansion. According to industry reports, VLMs can recover up to 85% of otherwise wasted floor space, making them a highly efficient solution for space-constrained warehouses.
- Improved Accuracy: Automated retrieval and storage minimize the risk of picking errors, ensuring that the right items are selected every time. Reports suggest that VLMs can achieve a pick accuracy rate of 99.9%, ensuring that customers receive the correct products on time.
- Enhanced Productivity: Operators spend less time searching for items, leading to faster order fulfillment and reduced labor costs.
- Inventory Control: VLMs often come with integrated inventory management software, allowing for real-time tracking of stock levels.
- Space Efficiency: VLMs can be integrated into existing warehouse layouts, optimizing available space and reducing the need for additional storage facilities.
- Labor Savings: Studies have shown that VLMs can reduce labor costs by up to 2/3 compared to traditional shelving systems. This is achieved through automated retrieval and ergonomic design, minimizing the need for manual labor.
In a world where space is money, the vertical lift module emerges as the bold savior of your warehouse.
Recover wasted floor space, achieve a jaw-dropping 99.9% pick accuracy rate, and cut labor costs by two-thirds. With the vertical lift module, your warehouse becomes a space-maximizing, error-minimizing, and cost-slashing powerhouse.
Don’t just rent more space—revolutionize your storage game with VLM, the ultimate warehouse efficiency commandment.