Heavy Duty Vertical Lift Module

Custom Engineered Heavy Duty VLM for Aerospace Customer

This custom vertical lift module (VLM) was built for a large aircraft manufacturer based out of Washington State. The lift is designed to handle 20 steel molds weighing 7,100 pounds each for a total capacity of 142,000 pounds. Our design was required to hold these parts within a .25” flatness. This custom VLM is also built to withstand earthquakes since the facility is located on the west coast.

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How It Works

The custom-engineered automated storage system interfaces with a semi-automated transfer cart that holds steel molds measuring 3’ wide by 40’ long. The VLM uses six electronically synchronized fingers on a carriage that reach out, pick up a single mold and move it to a specified storage location within the VLM. While moving the steel mold, the lift’s two synchronized motors ensure the tray stays within a .25” flatness tolerance to avoid causing any bending or warping of the mold.


Applications & Benefits

  • Storing and handling of large molds or dies
  • This VLM design can be translated into applications for large, hard-to-handle parts, and automation in extreme environments.
  • Increased part accuracy and quality
  • Reduced employee labor time handling molds
  • Decreased footprint of mold storage area


  • The vertical actuation of the carriage is done with two synchronized 7.5hp gearmotors and high strength lifting chain. The telescoping action of the fingers is done with electronically synchronized gearmotors. We also used powered wheels to bring the part from the transfer cart into our VLM.
  • The VLM measures 48’ long x 25’ high x 14’ deep
  • The operators use a 10” HMI screen to control the VLM. This screen is also used to communicate any faults, alarms, and I/O statuses. Field devices were run to I/O blocks throughout the machines and we used Ethernet to run those blocks back to the main panel.
  • This VLM has mesh guarding around the perimeter with safety rated door latch and a light curtain protecting the part transfer “window”.
  • The structure of the VLM was designed using our SolidWorks 3D modeling software. Through that software, we are able to perform finite element analysis on critical parts and weldments. We then sent the model to seismic engineers that would do a final analysis to ensure our design would survive a seismic event.


  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Heavy Industry


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