Vertical lift modules, or VLMs, are a type of automated storage and retrieval system consisting of an enclosed system of vertically-arranged trays. They maximize overhead storage space in warehouses or manufacturing facilities with limited floor space. Operated by software designed for efficiency and ergonomics, VLMs increase productivity, picking accuracy, and inventory management. Read on to learn about the following VLM features:


Dimensions and Capacities of Vertical Lift Modules

Vertical storage systems are available in varying dimensions and capacities depending on your unique requirements. The VLM trays range from 4-12 feet in width, along 6-inch increments, and can be 2-3 feet deep. The weight capacity of a given tray depends on the storage requirements. For example, a tray that is 8 feet wide by 3 feet deep can hold anywhere from 500 to 1100 pounds. Thus, you can store both lightweight parts and heavy materials in a single VLM.

The machines themselves range from 6-10 feet deep and can extend up to 15 feet wide. The most popular model is 9 feet wide by 10 feet deep. VLMs can tower up to 80 feet high, although the most common shuttle purchases are between 20 and 40 feet high. Learn more about vertical lift modules and other Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) here.


Vertical Lift Tooth Belt

The tooth belt is a convenient feature that drives the VLM extractor in the vertical direction. The tooth belt lifts the extractor to retrieve the desired tray and then lowers it again for the horizontal extractor to drive the tray out into the access port. Consider equipping your VLM with the tooth belt feature, which operates more quickly and quietly than alternatives. In addition, the tooth belt does not stretch and requires minimal maintenance. Check out the video to see the tooth belt in action and glimpse the inner workings of a VLM.  


Infrared Photo Beams

Along the rear post of the VLM access port, you might notice a vertical strip with round holes. The holes are for infrared photo beams which measure the height of a tray and its stored parts whenever it leaves the access port. The software uses this measurement to determine the best spot to store the tray to minimize wasted air space and maximize the total vertical storage. This means that a tray will not always be returned to the same spot but will rather be placed wherever it fits best. Thus, an operator should be careful not to mix materials of drastically different heights in the same tray. Since trays are stored according to the height of the tallest materials, be sure to store parts of similar size in the same tray so that the VLM will be able to effectively maximize its storage space.


Control Panel Display

Whenever a tray is delivered to the access port, the VLM’s control panel provides useful information about that particular tray which can help operators stock the tray effectively. The control panel is guaranteed to display:

  • The highest height of any material in the tray
  • The rated capacity the tray can hold
  • The live load the tray is holding at the moment

Contact Us for Vertical Lift Modules

Southwest Solutions Group® provides design and installation services for vertical lift modules. SSG will even provide a free consultation to determine your exact needs before the design process begins. To learn more or to speak with a specialist, call us at 1-800-803-1083 or send us a message today.


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