Horizontal Carousel Storage Systems: Answers to the Most Common Questions
In part 1, we compared horizontal carousels to vertical lift modules to illustrate when it makes the most sense to use one or the other. In part 2, we’ll examine the specifics of using a Modula HC in various storage applications and some common configurations. As we’ve said previously, we hope this information gives you some guidance on using either a vertical lift module or a horizontal carousel to meet your operational needs. But we recommend you contact a Modula sales representative to address your unique needs.
Modula HC configurations and special storage applications
How many horizontal machines can be used for one operator?
In times of low throughput, a single operator can operate multiple pods. However, traditionally a single operator would operate a pod of carousels. A pod would be sized to meet the storage capacity and the throughput requirements of the business. Carousel pods of two, three, and four carousels can be handled by a single operator.
How does the picking process work with horizontal carousels in pods?
To speed picking times, horizontal carousels are often used in an integrated workstation called a “pod.” Software and pick-to-light technology allows the carousels to work in conjunction with each other. As the worker picks from one horizontal carousel in the pod, the other carousel is pre-positioning the next pick. This minimizes worker downtime and increases throughput. Moreover, horizontal carousels arranged in pods offer great flexibility. With a simple software adjustment, the pods can be easily reconfigured to meet seasonal peak order times. A pod of four horizontal carousels can operate as one pod with one operator.
Does a horizontal carousel have imbalance issues similar to those on a vertical carousel?
No. Each bin/carrier is independently supported on the Modula Horizontal Carousel and the operation is not affected whether a bin is at its maximum weight or empty. It is recommended to avoid loading the unit to its 1,200 pound (544 kg) maximum capacity regularly because this will cause premature wear.
Can you stack the Modula HC?
No. Stacked carousels pose safety risks due to picking from ladders and platforms, so the Modula Horizontal Carousel is designed to be operated safely from the ground by human operators. If ceilings are high, a VLM may be a better choice.
How do I get to the product if the carousel is down?
One of the main benefits of a horizontal carousel is that it is still accessible when the power fails. Thanks to the new technology and improvements to the product, this is rarely an issue. HCs are traditionally a reliable storage solution that rarely encounter total system shutdown.
Is it possible to modify the size of the Modula Horizontal Carousel (increase or decrease) once it is installed?
Yes. Just as a Modula VLM can be adjusted for height after installation, a Modula HC can be adjusted for length and pods can be easily reconfigured to meet seasonal peak. Moreover, the control panel’s position and the safety fence can be customized anytime to meet different site requirements.
How does it work the batch picking with horizontal carousels?
One of the most common applications with horizontal carousels is batch picking. To speed picking times, horizontal carousels are often used in pods. A pod is two or more horizontal carousels used in an integrated workstation with software and pick to light technology.
Using Modula WMS software, an operator can create a batch of orders and fill them all at one time. When the horizontal carousel presents an SKU for picking, the operator picks the total SKU quantity for all orders. The batch picking lights, located at each order position, will then direct the picker to the correct location and indicate the quantity that needs to be placed in each order.
By using batch picking, the operator only visits an SKU location one time during picking. This increases accuracy, reduces picking errors and retrieval time while increasing productivity by up to 65%. The put-away process can be automated much like the picking process in reverse. Multiple displays can be integrated in each order position to facilitate multiple picking operators (up to three). This can help meet higher throughput rates during peak times.
Moreover, the WMS software provides the operator a graphical representation of the orders in the active batch, as well as information on the item that is being picked and the orders the item is associated with.
Why is a top drive carousel the best design?
Maintenance is easier with the motors on top rather than inside the carousel because accessing the middle of the carousel can be difficult or impossible in the event of a failure. Modula has incorporated both a top drive as well as gear-motor design into its new model, As a result, there are no chains or belts to adjust, lubricate or replace. If ceiling height is limited, we also offer the option of inverted drives.
Why do you use doors instead of safety floor mats?
The benefits of doors are many: Compared to oversized safety floor mats, the additional cost of the door system is marginal. The level of safety protection afforded by doors is far superior to mats. Judging by cost alone, one injury to a worker would instantly undo any savings a floor mat would offer. Moreover, the curved design of the doors provides optimal use of the space and more efficient pod-picking configurations. The door panels are made of Lexan, a highly impact-resistant material that offers clear visibility of the products and carousel activities while keeping the operator safely away from the moving components until the bin has come to a complete stop.
Can these horizontal carousel warehouses be used in areas with high seismic activity?
Local jurisdictions will specify the modifications required to meet their local regulations. Each case requires review. Modula works with local seismic engineers to determine the best solution when a customer is considering any Modula automated storage solution to be operated in a region subject to seismic activity.
Does the Modula HC require any specific software or does it run with the same WMS as other Modula solutions?
The Modula Horizontal Carousel will work seamlessly with the Modula WMS, allowing it to be connected with any other Modula products within the same application. Thanks to the WMS, it is also easy to integrate additional options. For example, the WMS can be connected to security devices such as badge readers to control access to the inventory, as well as productivity aids, including batch pick stations, label printers, barcode readers and piece counting scales.
What is the maintenance cycle of an horizontal carousel storage system?
Most machine maintenance can be done through regular operator inspections, and annual inspections. Stocking key spare parts can also reduce down time. Additionally, the majority of the components are accessible from outside the horizontal carousel, simplifying repairs and speeding maintenance. This also minimizes downtime and repair costs.
How long does the installation take?
This varies based on the operation and the installation requirements but normally takes a minimum of five working days. Requirements include a forklift and a clear area for assembling the carousel. The subcomponents of a carousel are assembled at the factory and the unit frames – modular in design – are assembled at the installation site.
If you have any other questions or would like to learn more about this technology, contact our Modula HC team of specialists.