Automated Storage and Retrieval System | Types , Advantages Of AS / RS 

Automated Storage and Retrieval System (AS/RS)

An integrated FMS, AGVS, and AS/RS system provides an efficient and effective production system for manufacturing. Receiving, identification and sorting, dis-patching, placing in storage, retrieving from storage, packing, shipping, and record keeping have traditionally been considered the functions of storage systems. An AS/RS attempts to achieve these functions by automating most of these procedures in a cost-effective and efficient manner.

An automated storage and retrieval system is defined as:
A combination of equipment and controls, which handles, stores and retrieves materials with precision, accuracy and speed under a defined degree of automation.

Different operations of AS/RS:
• Automatic removal of an item from a storage location
• Transportation of this item to a specific processing or interface point

• Automatic storage of an item in a predetermined location, having received an item from a processing or interface point.

An automated storage and retrieval system comprises the following:
• A series of storage aisles having storage racks.
• Storage and retrieval (SIR) machines, normally one machine per aisle, to store and retrieve materials
• One or more pickup and delivery stations where materials are delivered for entry to the system and materials are picked up from the system.

Automated Storage and Retrieval System
Automated Storage and Retrieval System

Types of AS/RS

Several types of AS/RSs are distinguished based on certain features and applications.
Some of the important categories include:
1. Unit load
2. Miniload
3. Person-on-board
4. Deep-lane
5. Automated item retrieval system

1. Unit Load AS/RS
The unit load AS/RS is used to store and retrieve loads that are palletized or stored in standard-size containers. In general, a unit load system is computer controlled; having automated machines designed to handle unit load containers. Each machine is guided by rails in the floor. These are the load-supporting mechanisms that moves loads to and from storage locations and the pickup-and-deposit stations.

2. Miniload AS/RS:
A miniload system is designed to handle small loads such as individual parts, tools, and supplies. The system is suitable for use where there is a limit on the amount of space that can be utilized and where the volume is too low for a full-scale unit load system and too high for a manual system. A smaller investment and flexibility of handling small items make it a popular choice in industry.

3. Person-on-Board Systems
The person-on-board system allows storage of items in less than unit load quantities. A person rides on a platform with the S/R machine to pick up individual items from a bin or drawer. This provides in-aisle order-picking ability, which can reduce the time it takes to fill an order. The operator can select the items and place them in a tote or module, which is then carried by the S/R machine to the end of the aisle or to a conveyor to reach its destination.

4. Deep-Lane AS/RS: 
The deep-lane AS/RS is another variation on the unit load system. The items are stored in multideep storage with up to 10 items per row rather than single or double deep. This leads to a high density of stored items, permitting high usage of the unit. Each rack permits flow-through of items; that is, an item is deposited on one side of the storage rack and removed from the other side. The S/R machine
is similar to the unit load S/R machine, except that S/R machines have specialized functions such as controlling rack-entry vehicles.

5. Automated Item Retrieval System:
This system is designed for automatic retrieval of individual items or cases for storage. The storage system consists of items stored individually in a flow-through system that can be automatically released from storage and automatically brought to a required point. The items are stored from the rear, as in the deep-lane system, and are retrieved from the front.

 Technical and Economic Benefits of AS/RS

There are several benefits of AS/RS for an organization, which include:

An AS/RS is highly space efficient. Space now occupied by raw stock, work in process, or finished parts and assemblies can be released for
valuable manufacturing space.

  1. Increased storage capacity to meet long-range plans.
  2. Improved inventory management and control.
  3. Quick response time to locate, store, and retrieve items.
  4. Reduced shortages of inventory items due to real-time information and control.
  5. Reduced labor costs due to automation.
  6. Improved stock rotation.
  7. Improved security and reduced pilferage because of closed storage area.
  8. Flexibility in design to accommodate a wide variety of loads.
  9. Flexibility in interfacing with other systems such as AGVS, FMS, and inspection systems such as coordinate measuring machines.
  10. Reduced scrap and rework due to automatic handling of parts.
  11. Reduced operating expenses for light, power, and heat.
  12. Helps implement just-in-time (JIT) concepts by getting the right parts, tools, pallets, and fixtures to the right place at the right time because of automatic control of storage and retrieval functions and accurate inventory management.
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