An automated high-bay warehouse utilizes the vertical height of the building – from floor to ceiling – and automatically stores and retrieves items with efficiency and accuracy.
Automated high-bay warehouses are very common in the logistics industry. These systems are installed in buildings that are at least 39 feet high, from floor to ceiling. The racks can be up 164 feet high, with spaces for several hundred thousand pallets.
In most cases automated high-bay warehouses are constructed of steel, but in rare cases some have even been built using wood. Automated high-bay warehouses can be free-standing structures inside a building, or can be integrated into the building design itself and serve as load-bearing components. The latter type is called silo construction.
In automated high-bay warehouses goods are put and picked by machines, i.e. stackers and robotic equipment. The stackers move back and forth along the aisle between two high-bay racks. The systems are guided along the aisle or corridor and given instructions for storing or retrieving specific items. Normally each corridor has an input and retrieval area. From there the goods are transported to their specified storage unit.
These automated storage systems function according to the "goods to man" principle – in other words, the systems save time because employees do not need to walk around searching for and retrieving the goods. However, fully utilizing the vertical space in a high-bay warehouse requires high levels of investment. And the pallet spaces in the racks are not adjustable or variable in height. Thus flexible, height-optimized storage – like that offered by the Hänel Lean-Lift® – is not possible. Depending on the type of goods stored, the rigid rack design can lead to a loss in storage capacity.
Fully automated high-bay storage: Keeping the logistics chain short
There are many different reasons for building a fully automated high-bay warehouse. Quite often there is a need to shorten the logistics chain, but expanding storage capacities and improving delivery quality are also good reasons for investing in an automated high-bay warehouse. The high-bay approach is especially good for saving floor space because the storage systems utilize the available vertical space optimally.
Complex and intelligently networked automation modules distinguish the fully automated high-bay warehouse from the classic version. The fully automated high-bay warehouse takes care of many time-consuming tasks – from put and pick operations to final order shipment – making it a very efficient element in the overall logistics process. The Hänel Lean-Lift® also efficiently uses the available room height in a way similar to high-bay warehouses. Unlike these, however, it stores parts in height-optimized positions so that no space is lost. This results in maximum storage capacity within a minimum footprint, and that saves money while contributing to cost-effective processes.