What are Horizontal Carousels?

Horizontal carousels are shelving rotating on a track. Carousels deliver parts to the operator instead of the picker walking to the location, and combined with software and pick-to-light, allow a single operator to pick multiple (typically between 8-16) orders in a single picking batch. Because there are 2-4 carousels per pod, when the operator is picking an item from one carousel, the adjacent carousels automatically preposition for the next pick to eliminate waiting. Carousel technology allows a single operator to accurately complete hundreds of item transactions per hour in a fraction of the space of shelving.

How many items (SKU's) fit in a carousel?

This depends on your volume per SKU. Setups range from 4,000 to 12,000 cubic feet of storage per carousel pod. Typical SKU locations range from 0.25 to 2 cubic feet per slot, and completely flexible within the system. Contact your local AS/R Dealer or AS/R directly to evaluate.

What kind of picking performance can I expect?

Anywhere from 200-400 transactions (lines) per hour in a "pick-&-toss" environment. Scanning, counting, bagging, or labeling at the carousel station can adjust this rate.

How much faster are carousels than manual picking?

That depends. Let's say your manual pickers are currently doing 50 lines (transactions) per hour. 25-35 of the transactions are likely coming from faster moving SKU's only take 15-20 minutes to pick. The other 15-25 items (slow to medium activity) are the time hogs, as pickers must walk a further distance between each pick. These slow to medium movers are usually good candidates for carousels, as the carousel eliminates walking and searching for the item. Now let’s say the same item is requested multiple times throughout the day. In manual picking, the picker must return to the same location multiple times for the same part. In a carousel batch picking environment, the item presents itself once, and allocates to each order requiring the item. To determine actual gains – figure out the time it takes to pick your slow to medium items and compare against 200-400 carousel transactions per hour. Contact your local AS/R Systems Dealer or AS/R Systems directly to help with your evaluation.

Do Carousels save space?

Yes. Because there’s no need for operator aisles, and available building height utilized - your picking areas will be consolidated. Contact your local AS/R Dealer or AS/R Systems directly to quantify exactly how much floor space will be saved.

Can I scan products at the carousel?

Of course. Also, since the operator is always at their own controlled workstation, there's no need to introduce an RF scanner. Scanning can be performed with a simple, $100 keyboard wedge scanner attached to the PC via cable or wireless.

What is Carousel Pick-to-Light?

Pick-to-light displays guide the operator to the correct location by pointing to the desired SKU and displaying the requested item quantity. If multiple orders require the same product, the item quantity is summed & spread across the orders via pick-to-light (and mirrored on the operator PC screen). For example, if 10 orders all require 5 units of SKU "ABC", the display will point and illuminate "50" (quantity to pick) at the location containing "ABC". The 10 pick-to-light displays pointing to each order box will illuminate quantity “5” above the order. The operator grabs 50 units from the carousel, and places 5 units in each of the 10 orders.

How do Carousels improve picking accuracy?

Carousels improve accuracy by illuminating the location and quantity of the item to pick, and by double-checking the correct item selecting through scanning its barcode (it applicable). Customers may also scan the order when placing the item into the order box for a triple-check.

How do I put items away into the system?

Putaway is the reverse of batch-picking. The operator scans multiple items into a putaway batch, and the carousels pre-position automatically to the correct location for putaway.

How many orders can I pick in a single batch?

As many as you'd like, and limited only by the number of orders you can physically fit into the operator station. Typical setups pick 8-16 orders per batch; however some customers pick 100’s of orders in a single batch.

What if my warehouse has other picking areas?

Not a problem. Operators simply partially fill orders from the carousel and pass them onto the off-carousel operator for top-up. Another scenario is to pass carousel and off-carousel items to a separate area for consolidation.

I have 30’ tall ceilings in my building. Can Carousels be stacked on top of each other?

Of course. Horizontal carousels can sit on top of each other to maximize available building height. A platform is introduced at the front end of the system for the operator. Lifting or conveying devices can be introduced to move product between levels.

What happens if the Carousels break down?

Although carousel downtime is rare, AS/R recommends following a quarterly PM schedule to discover minor issues before they become problems. If issues do arise, operators can spin the equipment via footswitch instead of by PC for a short term solution before an AS/R technician solves the problem over the phone or onsite. Keep in mind that carousels spaced accordingly can also be 100% accessed just like normal pick shelving during downtime.