Or is it more on target to describe the Kardex Remstar Shuttle XP Vertical Lift Module (VLM) as the warehouse equivalent of a Swiss Army knife? Because this VLM may not change colors, but it does just about everything else. So let’s talk a little bit about my favorite smart storage tool.
Optimum Storage Density in a Compact Footprint
The Kardex Remstar VLM is an enclosed system of vertically arranged trays located on both sides of the unit with an extractor in the center. With the push of a button or scan of a barcode, the VLM automatically delivers trays full of stored items to an access window for retrieval. And those items can be just about anything: we have clients who use a VLM in manufacturing, warehouses, car dealerships – even for refrigerated blood storage in hospitals.
With over 275 tray sizes, just about anything can be organized and stored. Dividers allow you to store similar items of various sizes from two inches up to 29 inches. Trays can be organized for every type of item with individual partitions and dividers, totes, containers or bins and labeled for quick and easy recognition when picking. The unit also automatically scans the height of a packed tray to maximize storage density within itself.
A VLM is absolutely one of the most flexible pieces of equipment you can add to your building. Because it allows you to go vertical with your storage, it saves on floor space. Its modular construction allows for stress-free changes in height to meet the ever-growing number of SKUs today’s world demands. If space is unavailable in your existing facility, VLMs can easily be installed outside a main building and accessed by adding a walled-in, pass-through. We have one client who built an 80-foot outdoor enclosure to house their 70-foot VLM; a very cost-effective approach.
VLM’s offer multiple capacity trays ranging from 500 lbs. up to 1100 lb. capacity – for mixed-weight capabilities so you can mix and match lighter and heavier items within the same module depending on your exact storage needs. There’s an internal weight management system monitoring weights of trays to prevent overloading of the tray or the unit.
Precision and Efficiency
Let’s face it, the ability to effectively manage labor costs and efficiency is a critical factor in achieving success. Because a VLM allows you to call for exactly the tray you need, you will not only see enhanced efficiency, but also improved picking accuracy. The design also enhances throughput by allowing the operator to work with one tray in the access opening while the extractor prepares the next tray for delivery behind the shutter doors. This allows two trays in the access opening for decreased wait time and increased productivity.
Even though a single VLM ads to operational efficiency, it’s when a second or third machine is added that you’ll really see output soar; machine #1 can be activated at the same time as machine #2. This double-effort means that while the operator is picking two trays on machine #1, machine #2 could be pulling two more trays so items are waiting for them and ready to go. And so on!
Security and Safety
Each tray in the VLM can be uniquely programmed; slower speeds for fine items, intelligently positioning commonly-used items for fast retrieval, and establishing restricted user access to individual trays for security and control. Automatic shutter doors safeguard the operator and your goods as well as reducing the noise level to a very comfortable level.
And, because trays are delivered to an ergonomic waist-level of the operator, employees no longer have to bend to reach lower shelves or lift items above them. For large items, the VLM can be set up for pallet handling and move heavy items with a crane as needed.For quick picking and consolidation of orders, work zones can be connected via conveyors, so items are delivered to the access opening, picked and then placed into shipping containers on the conveyor.
The VLM is a tried and true, proven piece of equipment. We have some units that have been in the field for more than 20 years. While the technology needs a little updating from time to time, the structure remains sound. Software does easily integrate the VLM into an existing WMS or ERP.
This combination of storage density, flexibility, efficiency and security makes it an ideal solution for almost every application. Does that make it a storage chameleon or an automation Swiss Army knife? I’m still not sure. When you give me a call to talk more about the VLM, you’ll have to let me know what you think.