The 5 W’s Behind an AutoStore Goods-To-Person System

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AutoStore

Goods-to-person systems are taking the material handling automation industry by storm.  One of these technologies is AutoStore, and it’s worth taking a more detailed look. Below are the who, what, when, where and why of AutoStore systems.

Who

Despite the best efforts from a competitor to market AutoStore as their own product, AutoStore is not manufactured by an integrator. AutoStore is a robotic goods-to-person system created by a Norwegian company called Hatteland, which was recently sold to EQT Partners. In addition to Bastian Solutions and Swisslog, there are other companies licensed to integrate AutoStore systems most of which do not try to confuse the market with who owns AutoStore. Looking at North America specifically, Bastian Solutions is the fastest growing and most experienced AutoStore integrator with dozens of highly successful installations. In fact, Bastian Solutions integrated the largest AutoStore (based on # of bin locations) in the world in 2016 in Southern California.

What

Autostore Operator Pick StationAutoStore is an innovative storage solution that allows complete configurability and flexibility. Bins are stacked vertically in a grid and retrieved by robots that travel on the top layer of the system. This makes it possible for the grid to be placed around columns, on mezzanines, and on multiple levels. The system can also be easily expanded and modified because of this design.

An AutoStore system is comprised of four main components: a structural grid, delivery robots, storage bins, and an operator port. Products are stored in stacked bins within the dense aluminum grid. As a product is needed to fulfill an order, the system software and controls alert a robot to find the bin containing the item.

If the bin is buried beneath other bins, a robot stages the extra bins on top of the grid until it retrieves the desired bin. It then takes that bin to the edge of the grid and delivers it to the operator fulfilling the order. As the bin is delivered, another AutoStore robot cleans up the staged bins on top of the grid by returning them to their original position.

As this process continues, the AutoStore system self-profiles, meaning the bins with faster moving products begin moving toward the top of the system, and bins with slower moving products transition to the bottom.

When

AutoStore is a great solution for companies that need to maximize the storage space within their facility.  There is no storage media denser.  It’s also extremely flexible and can be configured in odd shaped buildings and/or buildings with low ceilings.  It can also be easily expanded to accommodate future growth with little to no impact to operations.

Where

AutoStore is a great solution for many different applications.  It fits well in both distribution and manufacturing environments; it can be integrated into conveyor applications, and it’s a great solution for ecommerce order fulfillment.

The system can also be used in a cooler or refrigerator environment, but its temperature limit of 2 degrees Celsius does restrict use in freezer environments.

AutoStore system rendering

Why

AutoStore offers many benefits over other automated solutions.  These include:

  • More storage per square foot – generally we see a 40-60% space savings
  • Easy to integrate into existing facilities, especially odd shaped building with low ceilings
  • Expandable with minimal interruption to existing operations
  • High performance and speed
  • No single point of failure
  • Extremely low power consumption
  • Labor cost savings
  • Increased inventory accuracy

Bastian Solutions is one of the world’s premier goods-to-person integrators.  We’ve integrated many different technologies, each offering different advantages.  Our team can help you evaluate goods-to-person solutions and ensure you select the most appropriate technology for your application.  Give us a call or visit our goods-to-person webpage for more information.

 

Case study: AutoStore helps e-commerce retailer double facility capacity.

 

Greg Conner
I joined Bastian Solutions in 2005 after graduating from Purdue University. My first role was as a project engineer before transitioning to a field application engineer. After seven years, I became regional director of Indiana, overseeing all local FAEs as well as Bastian Solutions’ e-commerce business. In 2016, I was promoted to Vice President, Eastern U.S. where I now oversee sales and operations for all Eastern U.S. offices.

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