Safety, Ease Of Use Features Characterize AS/RS Equipment

Offered in a broad range of types and styles to accommodate diverse handling needs, automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) provide robotic, automated storage and retrieval of products with minimal human intervention. Regardless of their form factor, these advanced systems combine both equipment and controls to handle, store, and retrieve materials as needed with precision, speed, and accuracy. They are also built with numerous features that ensure operator safety as well as ease of use with minimal training.

ASRS — which include unit- and mini-load styles, vertical lift modules (VLMs), horizontal and vertical carousels, shuttles, and cube-based storage — are directed by computer-controlled systems for automatic deposit and retrieval of loads. Load types can include pallets, cases, boxes, trays or individual items (often stored in reusable plastic totes). For safety, all of these systems are protected with controlled access, safeguarding devices, and/or physical barriers that allow only trained, authorized personnel to use or maintain them.

Upon commissioning, operators of these systems are typically trained on-site by the ASRS supplier or installer; once in-use, facility managers or other operators train new associates. They usually only need to understand basic operation of the equipment, as well as safe operating procedures, before effectively using the system. When ASRS technologies are used for split case or piece picking they are used in  goods-to-person systems, operators are guided by easy-to-use screens and intuitive user interfaces when picking items presented to them by the equipment at ergonomic heights and specific access openings. These openings can be equipped with gates, light curtains, or sensors that temporarily stop the system’s operation should a hand or product be detected.

Maintenance personnel receive more in-depth training on how to service and troubleshoot the software, electronics and mechanical components of the system. Additionally, each system supplier will provide a lock-out/tag-out procedure to be followed prior to the equipment being serviced, or entered to correct faults.

Want to learn more? Read the article published by members of MHI’s Automated Storage/Retrieval Systems (ASRS) group, “AS/RS: Safety and Ease of Use in Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems,” in a recent issue of MHI Solutions.