Shuttle Storage System Part 3 – Layouting

Shuttle vehicles and rails must be designed in a space-saving way, in order to reach a profitable height grid. The height of the rail is decisive for the reachable space utilisation, because the height arises in every storage level and the totes are stored with a greater, vertical distance as actual necessary. Thus, the space utilisation and the storage capacity are less than those of lifting beams or miniloads – also because of the need of vertical conveyors. On the other hand, the floor space required is almost the same. The rail usually features a high integration of functions. It combines the function of positioning, energy transmission, carrying and guidance of the shuttle as well as safety functions. The data transmission is normally done via WiFi or Bluetooth. The rack has to be realized in that way, that it is able to absorb the occurring force of the movement, even in the case of error. Consequently, the costs for this kind of rack are higher than those for systems, which don’t cause forces or only small forces into the rack.

Shuttle Storage System Part 2 – The Basics (2/2)

A shuttle storage system consists of the following components:

– Shuttle vehicle with or without lifting functionality (MLS or OLS Shuttle)
– Vertical conveyor
– Railing system
– Rack
– Load
– Controls
– Transfer conveyors

Shuttle vehicles, which – regarding the design – aren’t bound to a specific aisle, can move themselves autonomous and therefore take functions in different levels or aisles of the rack. Therefore appropriate transfer devices are necessary. Shuttle vehicles can also be the replacement for automated conveyor systems, in order to bridge transport routes outside of the rack. Accordingly, the design of the shuttles must be appropriate for leaving the rack and moving on the industrial floor or on a rail system.

Shuttle Storage System Part 1 – The Basics (1/2)

Shuttle storage systems are used to store or to buffer totes, cardboard boxes and shelf boards. Static line racks are referred as shuttle storage system, in which autonomous shuttle vehicles operate. Every single shuttle vehicle operates in one or in several rack levels, but not in all. Shuttles, which operate in several rack levels, feature a lifting function. Vertical conveyors are used to connect the rack levels. Those can either relocate the shuttle vehicles in another rack level or convey the load to the level of the pre-storage area. Shuttle storages are used preferably for highly dynamic applications and are assigned to the automated small-parts warehouses. Thus, they represent an alternative to the conventional storage system with lifting beams – or miniloads. Advantages arise with the possibility to scale the performance of the system by varying the number of shuttles. Hence, it can be reacting to peak demands and changeable capacity utilisations. The loading is done by load handling devices (LHD), as they are known from the miniloads. However, the LHD are optimised in reference to the application of shuttle systems. Therefore, the flexibility concerning different goods is given. Depending on the LHD different rack types must be used.



The ABC of the shuttle storage systems – 10-part blog series!

We present you the basics of the shuttle technology in our 10-part blog series, we explain the difference between shuttles and miniloads and we go into detail about the future of both, partly rival systems. Especially, shuttle systems become increasingly popular, but is their usage useful at all time? Is the miniload “out of fashion”? This and a lot of other questions we are going to amplify in the course of the blog series.

Energy Efficiency In Intralogistics: Lowering Costs, Protecting The Environment.

In the scope of the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of VDMA, an intralogistics technology supplier takes on board responsibility for economy, ecology and society. The objective is minimization of the energy and resource consumption by innovative Technology.

Opportunities for optimization of energy consumption
Energy consumption not only depends on the automatic conveyor and warehouse technology. The greater part of the energy consumption relates to heating/ventilation, lighting and other consumers. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a holistic approach when energy consumption should be reduced. Beside to the conveyor and warehouse technology the building technology is important. The processes and procedures of the operation of an automated system also have great influence.

Lowering costs, protecting the environment

The Blue Competence initiative of the VDMA helps to find sustainable products and companies who adopt sustainability. GEBHARDT decided early on to place its products and services under the Blue Competence flag of the VDMA. It has always been our objective to develop machines that keep the energy consumption as low as possible. This objective becomes more and more important particularly in times of increasing energy prices. GEBHARDT combines innovative software with advanced mechanics to achieve this objective. Optimization that only includes individual components utilizes only a small part of the optimization potential. In intralogistics the overall system must be monitored. The reduction of energy consumption often goes hand in hand with the also welcome effect of wear reduction. Both together reduce the operating costs and make the logistics center more efficient.

Suppliers of automated intralogistics systems have many opportunities to influence the energy consumption of the logistics center:

Light-weight construction

Especially in the area of warehouse technology it is important to implement targeted lightweight, because the reduction of the moving mass is the first step to reduce energy consumption. Extensive simulation tools, such as FEM, are necessary in the product development. This leads to the use of innovative materials and bonding techniques, such as gluing. The composite-miniload Cheetah is the pioneer in this industry here.

Dynamic adjustment / run on demand

The energy usage in logistics centers and thus also in automatic small-parts storage can fluctuate considerably during the course of the day. There is a great savings potential here. Smart dynamics adjustment allows for energy saving particularly in the traveling axis. Smart algorithms analyze the order loading and automatically adjust the dynamic parameters of the warehouse technology. Also conveyor technology should only run if there is something to convey. Therefore it is important to integrate an intelligent shutdown of drives. The dynamics of the conveyor system can be adapted to the order situation. Intelligent software ensures that the performance of several intralogistics components is synchronized and matched to each other. So, only the energy is consumed, which is actually needed.

Interim circuit coupling at AS/RS

The interim circuit coupling represents smart control of the traveling and lifting axis. The objective is to achieve the minimum traveling and lifting time for a maximum number of double cycles with the minimum energy consumption. The energy that is released, e.g. when the traveling axis is braked, is diverted to the lifting axis to supply the required movement of the lifting axis. This solution pays off immediately and reduces energy consumption by up to 20%.

Energy recovery at AS/RS

The energy generated in the movement and positioning energy released in the system is connected via the mains feedback device and the interim circuit of the frequency inverters. Generated energy that cannot be used in another axis can be fed back into the mains. This technology permits ASRS to save up to 50 % energy. Amortization with pallet handling ASRS is at approx. 2 years.


Smart software for saving energy comprise various functions. In addition to the dynamics adjustment, the path to be travelled must be minimized, e.g. by ABC analysis. The work load management can ensure that auxiliary processes like relocations are performed in times of low work load, e.g. at night. The storage and relocation strategies must be optimized for each individual application.

Continuous improvement

Energy consumption of a logistics center can be continually improved. The improvement process must be continually revised and updated. The starting point is the evaluation of consumption data, followed by a search for potential improvements. Efficiency is increased once potential savings are identified. The results must be measured, visualized and monitored before the process is instigated.