Automated Storage and Retrieval System
An Automated Storage and Retrieval System, also known as an ASRS or an AS/RS, is a type of automation equipment designed to automatically load and unload items from designated storage spaces.
The first US ASRS patent was awarded to a group of inventors working for a company named HK Inc. in 1992. Their goal was to create an efficient, modular mail sorting system for the United States Postal Service. Today, almost 30 years later, these systems are used more broadly. Typically, the AS/RS is used in areas dealing with one or more of the following situations:
- Operators require extreme accuracy so as to not damage their goods
- Users have limited space and rely on well-used storage space (high density storage)
- The application requires the loading and unloading of extremely high load volumes
- The process consists only of storage and transportation (no processing involved)
Some of the most common Automated Storage Retrieval System applications today include: book retrieval in large libraries, warehousing, Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing, tire stacking, parts handling, buffer storage, order fulfillment, bike retrieval, commercial food and beverage, distilleries and pallet loads.
Manufacturers produce a large number ASRS varieties, such as: Vertical Lift Modules (VLM), ASRS gantry robots, mini-load ASRS, mid-load ASRS, unit load stackers, vertical carousels and horizontal carousels.
Manufacturers may customize ASRS any number of ways, including by: height capabilities, width, load capacity, control system and speed. They can also design systems to adapt to a wide range of preexisting or new but complementary systems, such as: conveyor systems, pallet flow racking systems, parking systems and automated order picking.
Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems benefit their users in a number of ways. First, they allow users to carry out complex tasks. Second, they increase space efficiency. Also, because they increase space efficiency, they make it less likely that a company will have to purchase additional storage space or build expansions on their building. This not only saves time and money, but reduces their energy expenditure and carbon footprint. Next, Automated Storage Retrieval Systems reduce labor costs. Finally, they eliminate human error and make inventory storage much more accurate and organized.