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Last updated: December 17, 2020
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Horizontal Carousels for Picking Productivity

horizontal carousel picking productivityA significant benefit of a horizontal carousel is its ability to increase picking productivity. If you have plans to build new systems or modernize or retrofit existing ones to increase picking productivity, a horizontal carousel is an excellent way to go.

The design and efficiency of a horizontal carousel help to streamline warehouse production. In doing so, these systems reduce the time it takes operators to pick and fulfill orders. Companies can achieve these times savings because the goods in a horizontal carousel deliver directly to the operator.

This type of powered storage solution increases picking productivity and helps create highly efficient inventory management systems. That means companies can save on labor, the cost of inefficiencies, and operational costs because picking times reduce significantly, and operators know where to locate inventory more accurately.

Understanding Picking Productivity for Storage and Retrieval Systems

Horizontal carousels are inventory management and storage systems featuring bins that rotate around an oval track that runs off an electric motor. Operators remain at their work stations at one end of the system while the bins rotate until it presents the appropriate items. After the order picker removes the item, they release the carousel to continue rotating to the next picker.

It isn't uncommon for order pickers to pick from more than one horizontal carousel. That way, when bins are rotating on one of the carousels, they can pick from the other. The process of working with more than one carousel increases the operator's picking productivity significantly.

Horizontal carousels feature designs that are beneficial for picking productivity in the following ways:

  • Increase in picking productivity by up to two-thirds
  • Increases the company's throughput by up to 500%
  • Accuracy increases by up to 99.9%
  • Inventory management occurs within a smaller footprint

Why Facilities Should Use Powered Storage

horizontal carousel order picking storage softwareUtilizing batch picking software allows operators to work with a standalone powered storage system that has light-directed picking. That means the work can occur at a much quicker pace. Companies can use this software for one horizontal carousel or, if necessary, a pod containing multiple carousels. For example, the pod could contain two or more carousels next to or stacked on top of each other.

Incorporating this type of software solution means companies can enhance warehouse operations and management because the software knows the bin location for all items stored within the carousel. Operators need to touch a button to spin the carousel into place and present the item they need to pick.

The picking productivity increases thanks to a light tower that mounts between the carousel. The tower directs the operator to the pick location and displays the quantity, thus increasing accuracy and productivity.

Operators can use batch picking when working with a single order to increase throughput. Companies can integrate a batch picking station into the horizontal carousel's work station. Inventory loads into the batch picking software, where it sorts for the operator into separate totes on their work station.

How a Horizontal Carousel Improves Inventory Management

Inventory management and picking productivity go hand-in-hand. Companies find that this is especially true when they prioritize knowing what they have on-hand and productivity. Incorporating a horizontal carousel as an inventory management solution allows companies to do more with less.

While inventory management is a significant benefit of using a horizontal carousel, its ergonomic features also assist with these efforts. Because the carousel delivers items to the operator at an appropriate height, they don't need to worry about bending, stretching, or walking to manage inventory.

The Picking Productivity Features and Benefits of a Horizontal Carousel

One of the most significant benefits of a horizontal carousel is that it helps increase picking speed and accuracy. Increasing the picking productivity is just one of the many priorities companies face when enhancing warehouse operations.

Additional benefits include:

  • Flexible and modular design: Companies can form a multilevel picking solution when stacking carousels or integrating them into mezzanines. It's also simple for companies to integrate additional bins in the future.
  • Increase in throughput: Because the horizontal carousel presents items to the picker, that reduces the travel time compared to picking from racks or shelves. The waiting time also significantly reduces when pickers use more than one carousel simultaneously.
  • Reduction in floor space: The floorspace a horizontal carousel need is significantly less than static shelving units. The main reason is that these systems have a smaller footprint that companies can use to increase their storage density.
  • Reduction of labor costs: When using a horizontal carousel, operators can work quicker and with higher accuracy levels. Pickers can fulfill orders quicker from a horizontal carousel compared to using an equivalent racking or shelving system.

Companies can configure a horizontal carousel to accommodate anything from light bulbs to pallets weighing thousands of pounds. When the principle of "goods to person" is in use, that means the items the operator requests deliver directly to them. Not only does that increase speed and reliability, but it also means the elimination of unproductive travel time.  

Additional features include:

  • order picking productivity horizontal carouselsBatch picking: Companies can integrate paperless picking while simultaneously delivering notes or other pertinent documentation to the printer. PC controls combine several orders into one picking batch to increase inventory management.
  • Better picking performance: Each work station features independently moving horizontal carousels working simultaneously. That means operators are working with fast storage and retrieval systems featuring high pick performance. For example, a single operator can work off between 200 and 400 positions within their workstation each hour.
  • Flexibility: It's possible to use a horizontal carousel for various applications and store a broad range of items. For example, companies can select the shelf distances between each carrier to adapt them to their storage items.
  • Increased payloads: Ideally, a horizontal carousel is optimal for storage and retrieval systems featuring light to medium-sized items. Companies can use these systems for payloads that have a maximum of 54 tons. They can choose the load capacity according to the system's application.

The Benefits of Improving Picking Productivity for the Military

The military sector understands how time is a precious commodity, and finding ways to increase it is vital. Large-scale manufacturing companies aren't the only place where a horizontal carousel is beneficial. These systems are also beneficial to the government, military, and private sectors where there's a need for maximizing efficiency and productivity.

This type of storage and retrieval system helps maximize storage while simultaneously increasing picking productivity and performance. Automated storage and retrieval systems for the government, military, and private sectors include:

  • Storing parts in a horizontal carousel
  • Using powered storage systems for automotive parts
  • Storing ammunition and weapons in a horizontal carousel
  • Using powered storage for gun weapon storage

Comparing the Technical Features and Design

Integrating a horizontal carousel is an ideal solution for companies with low overhead space in their warehouses and production floors. Incorporating better material handling solutions means that companies must prioritize how much space a system takes up and how it can increase productivity.

General Technical Specifications:

  • Dimensions: Range between 5.2' to 14.4' wide by 7.6' to 14' deep by 8.4' to 98.6' high
  • Payloads: Individual payloads can reach up to over 250,000 pounds
  • Tray payloads: The average tray payload can reach over 1,500 pounds

Picking Efficiencies for Facilities

Companies can increase their picking productivity by adding a horizontal carousel system and eliminate static shelving. That means the operators spend less time searching for and retrieving items than if they have to walk down shelving aisles. For example, here are two examples of how static shelving compares to a horizontal carousel:

Heavy Steel Bulk Storage Racks: #SMS-39-HCS602484-5HGwarehouse efficiency horizontal carousel storage

  • Angle post's construction: 13 gauge steel
  • Dimensions: 5' Wide x 2' Deep x 7' High
  • Capacity: Holds 2,300 pounds per shelf, includes five shelves.
  • Shelf construction: 14 gauge steel with an 18 gauge hat channel stiffener welded underneath
  • Unit weight: 247 pounds

A Horizontal Carousel:

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

It isn't uncommon for companies to utilize in-house engineers to inform them about how storage and retrieval systems can increase picking productivity. Architects and designers inform companies about increasing picking productivity in the athletic, educational, health, legal, military, and technical industries, and more.

Companies can integrate these powered storage systems into their existing footprint when they have expert designers on staff. Several architectural and design phases must occur when integrating a horizontal carousel into an existing business.

Architectural and design phases:

  1. A thorough site evaluation to determine which horizontal carousel can increase picking productivity the best
  2. CAD drawing depicting inventory management solutions and quicker pick rates
  3. Presentation of plans
  4. Integration of the horizontal carousel into the company's existing footprint
  5. Installation of the horizontal carousel

Horizontal Storage That Increase Picking Productivity

Southwest Solutions leads innovations regarding the design and automation of storage and retrieval systems. Contact one of our design experts by calling us at 1-800-803-1083 or contact us on the web today. We'll help you decide what the best storage and picking productivity solution is best for you and your application.

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