Are you always looking for ways to improve efficiency and save time? If so, then it might be worth considering a Vertical Lift Module (VLM). This high-tech storage solution is becoming increasingly popular in manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare, retail, and other industries. With a VLM system, companies can reduce costs while improving access to stored items like parts, assemblies, and other essentials. Read ahead to find out how this innovative technology can help elevate production efficiency in your business!
The primary advantage of a vertical lift module, or, shortly, VLM, is to improve ergonomics, so workers can pick products at a comfortable height and reduce strain on their bodies. When workers are comfortable, they can work faster and improve productivity. If you are still wondering how it makes sense, read more on VLM features, benefits, and how its applications can improve your warehouse productivity.
How is VLM An Advanced Solution Over Vertical Or Horizontal Carousel?
As mentioned above, a vertical lift module is a warehouse system to store and retrieve items efficiently. Here the module works via a control system that directs a lift mechanism to move to the correct position where the requested item is stored. Then the lift retrieves or stores the trays containing the item, bringing it to an opening where the warehouse operators can load or unload the items.
The modern VLMs have automatic tray height measurement features; the system can measure each item's height and adjust the trays' positions for the staff to pick quickly. This optimization helps to make the best use of the storage space available in the VLM unit. It reduces space waste and maximizes storage density to store more items in a smaller area.
Suppose it is compared with a vertical carousel. The carousel shelves with trays rotate vertically on an oval path like a Ferris wheel. The entire payload, including all the shelves and trays, moves together. On the other hand, in a VLM, only the specific tray containing the requested item is extracted and moved, while the rest remain in place. It allows VLM for more precise and efficient retrieval of items.
If you are to compare the vertical lift module with a horizontal carousel, the difference lies in the movement. In a horizontal carousel, shelves with trays rotate horizontally, like a merry-go-round mechanism. Here the entire payload involves all the shelves and trays to move together. But the VLM extracts only the desired tray and moves it to the desired height while the other trays remain stationary. The selective movement of the vertical lift module, among other storage carousels, makes it a more efficient and flexible system.
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Benefits Of Using A Vertical Lift Module System
Integrating a vertical lift module system into your internal merchandise management system can exponentiate your inventory capabilities. Here are some key advantages that guarantee more height in your productivity:
Maximum Space Use With A Small Footprint
The vertical lift module system effectively utilizes the vertical space, allowing for high storage density while occupying a relatively small floor area. It helps optimize your warehouse space and enables you to store many items in a compact footprint.
A Variety Of Trays Can Be Stored Separately
VLM systems have multiple trays that you can use to store different products separately. Such segregation in the storage carousel helps organize and categorize inventory, making it easier to locate and retrieve specific items when required.
Helps You To Operate More Quickly And Save Time
A VLM system's automated retrieval and storage process significantly speeds up operations. With just a few clicks on the control system, you can retrieve the required tray from the module, eliminating the need for manual searching. Hence, saving a lot of time and increasing productivity.
Your Products Are Securely Stored With Safety Features On
If you are concerned about the security of your stored product on the vertical lift module, the control system also meets that requirement. The VLM system has safety features, including locks, security sensors, and remote-controlled access. So you can efficiently protect your inventory from damage or theft.
Give Operator's Ergonomics Benefits
The VLM system is designed with the operator's comfort and safety in mind. The trays are positioned at a convenient height for easy access and to reduce strain and fatigue on the operators. The ergonomic design promotes a comfortable and efficient working environment.
Increase In Product Turnovers
With faster and more organized retrieval, a VLM system allows for quicker order fulfillment. It ultimately leads to increased product turnovers, as orders can be processed and shipped more efficiently, enhancing customer satisfaction and improving overall business performance.
Highest possible storage density and capacity
The VLM systems maximize storage capacity by utilizing vertical space. The trays can be adjusted to accommodate different item sizes, ensuring efficient available space use and high storage density.
Offer Adaptable Storage Solutions
The vertical lift module systems offer flexible storage solutions that can be customized to meet specific business needs. Whether it's storing small items, bulky products, or a combination of both, VLM systems can be tailored to provide the operator with adaptable storage solutions for various inventory types.
What Are The Different Types Of VLM You Can Work With?
Single Column - single elevator VLM
The single Column, single-elevator vertical lift module is the most commonly used in warehouses. This system has two vertical shelves racks placed side by side, with a vertical elevator system between them. The elevator moves up and down to extract one tray at a time and bring it to the operator's workstation. The operator can easily access the items on the tray without manual searching or heavy lifting. It's a popular and efficient solution for organizing and retrieving items in a warehouse.
Single Column - dual elevator VLM
Another popular vertical lift module is the single column-dual elevator VLM which is quite similar to the operation of a single elevator VLM but comes with added capabilities. It also has two vertical racks of shelves with an elevator system between them. However, the extractor in this type of VLM can hold two trays at the same time. So the system can present one tray to the operator and simultaneously pick up another for the following order. Once the operator finishes with the first tray, it is returned to its storage shelf, and the second tray is presented. Handling multiple orders simultaneously would be faster and more efficient for order fulfillment.
Single Column, double deep, dual elevator VLM
The single-column-double deep, dual elevator VLM system allows for increased storage capacity and space savings. It has two shelves on the front side and two on the back side of the VLM. The extractor in this system can retrieve a tray that is stored behind another, enabling double-deep storage. Each shelf can hold two trays, one in front of the other. The dual elevators operate simultaneously, allowing for efficient retrieval of trays from the VLM's front and back sides. This VLM system is a good solution if your business wants to maximize storage density.
Single Column – high-speed tote-based VLM
Using the single Column, high-speed tote-based VLM is a vertical lift module system that uses an extractor with multiple picking totes. The extractor can do many things, like retrieve a tote, move it to the left, and next grab another one and move it to the right. The system also allows for the simultaneous picking of multiple totes for different orders. For instance, if the operator needs to pick four different items, the VLM will present four totes to the workstation simultaneously. This feature can accelerate the order fulfillment process, ensuring the operator never waits for the machine. This increases efficiency and productivity, which allows you to process multiple picks simultaneously.
Pallet Based VLM
If your business requires heavy item storage with vertical lift modules, pallet-based vertical lift modules can be the solution that can handle heavy pallets that weighs up to 3,000 pounds. This VLM includes a forklift mechanism at the front of the VLM. It allows the VLM to lift and store entire pallets, making handling bulkier or heavier items more manageable. With the pallet-based VLM, warehouse operators can efficiently store and retrieve large pallets without requiring separate forklifts or manual handling. It simplifies storing and organizing heavy loads within the VLM system, which optimizes your warehouse operations.
Multi-column single elevator VLM
Unlike the standard vertical lift modules with elevators or extractors which operate vertically, the multi-column, single-elevator VLM can move up, down, and horizontally. It means that the extractor can retrieve trays or shelves from multiple columns of storage units. So the extractor can retrieve trays or shelves from multiple columns of storage units. It is beneficial for businesses that store parts or products with varying heights. The lift enables efficient access to items at different levels and positions within the VLM, making it easier to retrieve the desired items without the need for manual searching or additional machinery.
What Features To Look Into While Considering A VLM?
When considering a Vertical Lift Module (VLM), there are several key features to look into. Here are the aspects you need to look into that help you make an informed decision for your needs.
One of the most critical components to look into while ordering VLM is its trays. Trays are essential factors that hold items in the vertical lift modules. So consider the tray's specifications, such as sturdiness, durability, and desired technology, for accommodating your specific inventory requirements. Moreover, consider the tray size, weight capacity, and adjustability for efficiently storing and securing the items.
Another factor is the lift mechanism for the vertical movement of the trays within the VLM. So please pay attention to whether the lift mechanism is operated by an electric motor, its speed, and the load-bearing capacity. Ensure the VLM offers a reliable lift mechanism to smoothly and efficiently retrieve and store trays. It will minimize your downtime and maximize your productivity. Additionally, consider the vertical travel height to align with your storage needs.
Control System software
The software integration in the VLM system includes the control system that serves as the brain of the VLM that manages the whole operation. So look for user-friendly software that offers intuitive navigation, easy tray selection, and efficient order fulfillment, as the operator has to make all the inputs for automating the retrieving process seamlessly. Moreover, the software should provide real-time inventory features for management, tracking, and reporting capabilities. Additionally, advanced features like automatic tray height measurement and optimization algorithms can help maximize storage density and improve overall efficiency.
Additional Technologies To Add To Improve VLM Flexibility
- Autonomous Mobile Robots
- Augmented Vision
- Robotic Arms
- Pick and put to light system
- Transport Carts
- Controlled Atmosphere
Applications of Vertical Lift Modules
No matter which industry you are operating your business in, if you have storage and inventory management requirements, vertical lift modules can be your ideal solution. If you deal in warehousing and distributing, VLM can optimize space and streamline order fulfillment. It's also helpful for the manufacturing industry to store raw materials and finished products that reduce production lead times. Retailers benefit from space-saving VLMs for inventory management. Similarly, if you deal in the healthcare sector, storing medical supplies and patient records can be beneficial, ensuring easy access to critical items.
Vertical Lift Modules, or VLM systems, are quickly becoming the storage solution of choice in multiple industries. This technology has been proven to increase efficiency, reduce costs and improve access to essential stored items. Whether in manufacturing, warehousing, healthcare, or retail, a VLM can provide numerous advantages to your business. In addition to the benefits already mentioned, a VLM system can also be very energy-efficient and take up less space than conventional shelving. With these many benefits in mind, it's time to seriously consider investing in a Vertical Lift Module of your own!
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