Horizontal Carousels Increase Worker Safety & Ergonomics

horizontal carousels improve ergonomicsIf you’re looking for various ways to improve the ergonomics at workstations within your facility, a horizontal carousel is an ideal solution.

Employees throughout the United States commonly miss work or face restrictions due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs). We learned from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics that WMSDs make up 33% of work-related injuries.

Ergonomic storage and retrieval systems eliminate the need for workers to bend, twist, and turn. The main reason is that everything at the workstation is at the same level. Operators can customize their workspaces to ensure optimal comfort and increase pick efficiencies. (See videos See videos)

Understanding the Importance of Ergonomic Powered Storage Systems

A horizontal carousel uses an oval track that supports bins and shelves rotating on an axis. There’s a motor outside of the track that powers carriers horizontally. The track stops at pre-determined access points to allow operators to store and retrieve items ergonomically.

Designing workstations for ergonomics is challenging for various reasons, including optimizing position, eliminating extreme movements, minimizing forces and repetition, optimizing lighting, and using color-coding. Because people aren’t all the same height, that means the workstation’s design must be at different heights or feature customizations for each worker to personalize.

For example, a workstation featuring designs for average height is challenging for someone shorter or taller. Incorporating a horizontal carousel into workstations improves workflows because operators don’t have to bend their neck, twist their backs, or overextend themselves to look for or pick items.

A horizontal carousel features ergonomic features specifically for avoiding:

  • Persistent neck bending
  • Working bent or hunched over a workstation
  • Extended reaches
  • Stress on shoulders and the lower areas of the leg
  • Stress on the lower back

Why Facilities Should Use a Horizontal Carousel

When facilities make ergonomics a priority, it’s good for their employees and economics. For every dollar a company spends on ergonomics, they can save ten. Those savings come from a reduction in training costs due to employee retention improvements, a decrease in injuries that result in restrictions or lost time, a reduction in workers’ compensation claims, and lower insurance premiums.

Using a horizontal carousel allows facilities to promote worker safety by focusing on the following:


Facilities can reduce the human component by incorporating powered storage solutions. When there’s less human exertion, over time, there are fewer issues with ergonomics. Automation doesn’t take the human component out of facilities completely, but it makes their jobs much easier. Installing a horizontal carousel featuring software automation helps reduce worker fatigue and increase occupational safety.

Shelving heights

Facilities can improve warehouse ergonomics by improving shelving height with a horizontal carousel. Using these powered storage systems prevents the need to lift heavy items or the risk of items falling on employees. These systems also eliminate the need for static shelving, which presents safety risks and time wasted traveling down aisles.

Strike zones

When they’re standing upright, the measurement between an operator’s shoulders and their knuckles is the strike zone. Movements within the strike zone are ideal for back, shoulder, and neck function. That results in fewer injuries and less pain than working above or below the strike zone.

A horizontal carousel delivers items to workers at an appropriate height, between their shoulders and knees. That way, these systems eliminate the need to bend down or overreach when picking items. These systems reduce not only workplace injuries but also workers’ compensation claims. The systems feature designs specifically for the following applications:ergonomic horizontal carousel systems

  • Buffer storage
  • Ecommerce and omnichannel operations
  • Manufacturer to consumer
  • Manufacturing
  • Order consolidation
  • Order fulfillment
  • Replenishment
  • Store order replenishment
  • Work in progress storage

How Ergonomic Storage and Retrieval Systems Improve Efficiency

Making improvements to a facility’s design and layout helps improve its workflow and efficiency. That’s mainly due to the environment being more manageable and more productive for each worker. When the work is easier for them to do, they can complete it quickly and without discomfort or injury. The majority of the ergonomic modifications a company should make should prioritize minimizing worker illness and injury rates.

Ergonomic storage and retrieval systems keep items readily accessible for operators and eliminate the need for travel when they’re picking. By reducing travel time, facilities can increase the operator’s efforts and efficiencies. For example, reducing travel time and picking difficulty means fewer repetitive actions occur, like climbing, reaching, and walking.

No matter what an operator picks, it can cause some measure of strain or fatigue. Over time, that could lead to injury and persistent pain. Facilities can minimize this strain by looking at ergonomics to enable operators to pick using neutral movements that minimize strain.

Bins, shelves, or trays present themselves to operators at an easy-to-reach level. That eliminates the need to bend to reach and retrieve items at lower levels or reach items with high storage. Some powered storage solutions feature a lift table to increase ergonomic benefits.

The Ergonomic Benefits and Features of a Horizontal Carousel

horizontal storage carousel ergonomicsWhen workers feel valued, provided for, and protected, companies are more likely to retain them. Companies find many benefits in using ergonomics to change work environments to fit each of their operators. Ergonomics also prevents the need to ask operators to assimilate into a work environment.

Additional benefits include:

  • Elimination of bending, reaching, turning, and twisting
  • Increase in operator efficiency
  • Operational safety
  • Reduction of worker fatigue and stress

Incorporating a horizontal carousel within a facility’s building design means easy operation and increased efficiency for operators and managers. The main reason is that operators no longer have to walk through the warehouse to locate and pick items when fulfilling orders.

Additional features include:

Why Ergonomic Powered Storage is Beneficial to the Military

Reducing worker fatigue, injuries, and stress is also a priority on military bases. Ergonomics isn’t only essential on warehouse floors, but in the military as well. These systems are beneficial for the government, military, and private sectors where there’s a need for improving ergonomics. Powered storage solutions help keep various items, including small parts and tools, at a comfortable height for the worker.

The airforce, army, marines, and navy all benefit from establishing ergonomic programs as part of their health and safety. Automated storage and retrieval systems with ergonomic features for the government, military, and private sectors are beneficial for the following reasons:

  • Controlling or preventing illness or injury by eliminating or reducing exposure to risk factors
  • Reduction of the potential for error, fatigue, or unsafe acts
  • Increasing the workforce’s productivity
  • Reducing the cost of workers’ compensation claims
  • Improving the unit’s overall readiness

Comparing Technical Features and Design

A horizontal carousel brings new performance levels, reliability, and safety to facilities that prioritize ergonomics. The inventory management software in a horizontal carousel means operators can access storage easily and quickly. In addition to reducing physical strain, these powered storage solutions also increase picking accuracies.

General Technical Specifications:

  • I, L, or U shape configurations to simplify picking and shorten distances
  • Suitable for rooms just under 30 feet tall or less
  • Optimize picking times by dividing into to or three picking zones

Ergonomics in the Workplace

A horizontal carousel installation is optimal wherever facilities need an automated storage and retrieval system. These systems are cost-effective, ergonomic, and reliable when delivering goods to operators quickly. Because a horizontal carousel delivers items at a comfortable height to the operator, it increases operational safety and decreases worker fatigue. Here are two examples featuring comparisons between static shelving and a horizontal carousel:

Storage Bin Organizer Rack: #SMS-45-QFS248-76improve worker ergonomics safety

  • Bin Construction: Break-resistant clear plastic containers
  • Dimensions: 1’11-5/8″ Wide x 1’4″ Deep x 4’4″ High
  • Framework Construction: 14-gauge steel
  • Opening: 76 Bins
  • Overall Weight: 12 pounds

Horizontal Carousels

  • Carrier Dimensions: 24.5″ Wide x 18″ Deep x 6′ high
  • Carrier Payload: from 600 to 1,500 pounds
  • Number of Carriers: between 16 and 120
  • Rotational Speed: 85 feet per minute

Many companies turn to in-house engineering teams for information regarding ergonomics and ways to implement that solution into automated storage and retrieval systems. Architects and designers provide company owners with information about ergonomic solutions in the athletic, educational, legal, medical, military, and technical fields, and more.

When companies have expert designers on staff, they can integrate powered storage solutions into their existing footprint. Incorporating a horizontal carousel into an existing floor plan involves various architectural and design phases.

Architectural and design phases:

  1. A thorough site evaluation to determine the best ergonomics for each horizontal carousel
  2. CAD drawings depicting these ergonomics and other solutions
  3. Presentation of plans
  4. Integration of the horizontal carousel into the facility’s existing footprint
  5. Installation of the horizontal carousel

Embracing Ergonomics with a Horizontal Carousel

Southwest Solutions is an innovative leader regarding designing and installing ergonomic powered storage systems. Get in touch with one of our design experts by calling us at 1-866-443-5670 or contact us on the web today. They’ll help you decide the best horizontal carousel solution to help improve your facility’s ergonomics.