Vertical lift modules are a popular industrial storage solution that increases productivity and saves space. Great for order picking, batch picking, MRO, manufacturing, and more, these automated storage systems maximize the overhead ceiling height and provide quick, effortless access to stored parts. (Check out all of our industrial storage solutions here.)

This article will explore the following:

  • How vertical lift modules work
  • Vertical carousel vs. vertical lift module
  • Benefits of vertical lift modules
  • Vertical lift module features & specifications

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How Vertical Lift Modules Work

Vertical Lift Module (VLM) OverviewVertical lift modules, called shuttles or VLMs, are fully automated storage and retrieval systems with an inventory management system. The vertical lift modules VLMs maximize space by using the overhead ceiling height. The VLM consists of an enclosed system of vertically arranged trays. The trays are automatically delivered to an ergonomically positioned retrieval counter upon request.

Operating a vertical lift module is simple. The user selects the desired item and the quantity needed at the operator panel. Then, the shuttle’s extractor automatically retrieves the tray where the specified item is stored and delivers it to the access opening. Access-ready lights turn red to green to indicate when the tray is safely in place and ready for picking.

Optional pick-to-light technology improves accuracy by guiding the operator to the correct picking location in the tray. An LED light bar along the access counter displays the part number, quantity to pick, and storage location, and it also confirms the transaction when completed. An infrared light pointer can indicate the exact location of parts in the tray for maximum accuracy.

After picking parts, the extractor automatically retracts the tray and stores it in the most space-efficient location. Integrated photo-light sensors scan the tray’s height as it automatically retracts into the module to determine the appropriate storage location. Visit our online store to see our industrial storage products.

Vertical Carousel vs. Vertical Lift Module

benefits vertical lift modulesHow does the vertical lift module compare to the vertical carousel, a similar storage system? Both are fully enclosed, space-efficient systems that store products in vertically arranged trays and deliver them automatically to an ergonomic retrieval counter. Though they share many benefits, a few key differences are below.

Vertical carousels store a fixed series of carrier shelves attached to a chain drive, which rotate like a Ferris wheel to arrive at the retrieval counter.

  • Heights range from 7 to 30 feet (best for lower ceilings)
  • They can handle loads of up to 1,400 pounds per carrier. Overhead lifts and cranes will not integrate with carousels
  • Carrier shelves require manual reconfiguration if inventory sizes change
  • Carousels are ideal for storing similar size bins

Vertical lift modules:

  • Store trays in two columns, with a mechanical inserter extractor traveling between the columns and bringing the desired tray directly to the retrieval counter
  • Heights range from 8.4 to 98.4 feet (best for higher ceilings)
  • The VLM can handle loads of up to 2,200 pounds per carrier tray and can integrate with overhead cranes and lift-assist equipment
  • Tray heights automatically adapt to accommodate inventory size changes
  • Ideal for stored items of varying sizes and weights

Since the vertical carousel stores parts in standard-sized bins, it typically appeals to industries that already store their parts in bins due to the ease of transfer. But if the benefits of the more space-efficient VLM better meet your facility’s needs, don’t let this factor deter you. We offer inventory transfer services that make it easy to transfer your parts storage into the VLM and make the most of its space-efficient design.

Benefits of Vertical Lift Modules

kardex remstar vertical lift modules


VLMs maximize picking efficiency by eliminating the time it takes to search for and locate a needed item. Instead, the desired item is brought directly to the operator at the push of a button. Light-directed picking, automated batch picking, and dual tray delivery options further speed up the picking process.


The Kardex vertical lift module increases productivity and picking accuracy. Picking accuracy is enhanced by up to 99.9% using pick-to-light technology. Pick-to-light technology shows the operator exactly where to pick the part. The pick-to-light technology also increases productivity and leads to more accurate and efficient order fulfillment.

Space Savings

vlm ergonomic picking systemThe vertical lift module VLM modular design consolidates storage in a compact footprint, fully utilizing your overhead ceiling height space. The units save up to 85% of floor space compared to traditional shelving. Within the unit, each tray height is automatically measured and stored in the least amount of space required to ensure maximum space efficiency.


A vertical lift module storage system delivers inventory directly to an adjustable waist-high work counter. Employees can easily access all items at an ergonomic level without having to reach, lift, bend down, or walk extended distances, reducing the risk of injury. Safety features such as the automatic shutter doors and safety light barrier protect operators from injury by the shuttle’s moving parts.


The VLM’s enclosed design protects stored inventory from dust, damage, and pilfering. In addition, automated inventory management software tracks all transactions and can limit tray access to authorized personnel only.

Vertical Lift Module Features & Specifications

vertical lift module dimensionsOptional features for Kardex Remstar vertical lift modules include:

  • Installation outside the building with pass-through access
  • Multi-floor access (up to six access openings per unit)
  • Dual tray delivery
  • Manual or automatic complete tray extraction
  • Pick-to-light technology
  • Temperature and humidity controls
  • ESD version
  • Class 1.000-100.000 / ISO Class 6-8 cleanroom applications
  • Integration with barcode scanners, conveyor technology, cranes, and robots

Kardex vertical lift module unit dimensions:

  • Width: 5.2 to 14.4 feet
  • Depth: 7.6 to 14.1 feet
  • Height: 8.4 to 98.6 feet

VLM tray dimensions:

  • Width: 4.1 to 13.3 feet
  • Depth: 2 to 2.8 feet
  • Height: 3″
  • Adjustment pitch: 1″
  • Maximum storage height: 30″
  • Load capacity: up to 2,000 lbs. per tray

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See specifications and pricing for open & closed shelving, sliding bin shelving, shelving with drawers, and bulk rack.

Contact Us for Vertical Lift Modules

Southwest Solutions Group® is authorized to provide design and installation services for Kardex Remstar vertical lift modules and other automated storage and retrieval systems. We will also provide a free consultation to determine your exact needs and specifications before the design begins. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.



Industrial Testimonials


“Working with Southwest Solutions including Matt, Susan, and especially Brad was great. They provide amazing customer service. Brad and the install team were especially great. Very professional, easy to work with, and did the work quickly and very well with very little input from us. If we need help with carousel storage moves, parts, or new equipment we will start with Southwest Solutions. ”

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“The team at Southwest Solutions were nothing short of fantastic. First meeting with Craig, I received a customized design, in person, based on my office needs while still maintaining an efficient layout and being cost effective. Craig explained everything clearly, allowing me to understand that as modular mill-work, I would be able to move it if I ever changed offices, but without the added sales pressure to immediately make a decision. Once I had decided, I worked with Chris who assisted in picking out the finishes and scheduling the delivery and installation. The professionalism of Craig and Chris spoke volumes and I would highly recommend anyone looking to transform or fit-out an office to contact Southwest Solutions.”

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Harvey-Cleary Builders

“I want to let you know that we all really appreciated your team mentality, professionalism and dedication shown on this project. It was a pleasure working with you and your office and we look forward to many more. Please pass along my gratitude to everyone who worked on this project. Thanks! ”

Harvey-Cleary Builders
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“I just want to take a minute to let you know how good of a job your install crew did yesterday. They were quick, fast, courteous and very consensus during the install. They were awesome to say the least. Being in the service business ourselves, we know that you can never hear the words “Good Job” often enough. Please pass this along to your crew.”
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