Improving Warehouse Efficiency with AS/RS Pallet Shuttles and AMRs

by Prime Robotics
June 10, 2024
as/rs,pallet shuttle,amr

Automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are transforming warehouse operations. Pallet shuttles are a type of AS/RS that often integrate with pallet-moving AMRs to streamline warehouse processes like put away, storage, and retrieval to improve productivity and accuracy.

Below, we explore how AS/RS and AMRs work together to optimize warehouse operations. 

Understanding AS/RS and AMRs

AS/RS are systems that autonomously store and retrieve goods from specific storage locations. These systems are particularly useful in high-volume warehouse environments requiring speed and precision. AMRs are versatile robots that use advanced sensors to navigate warehouse floors independently. AMRs move pallets and cases of goods across different warehouse zones to complete various tasks. 

AS/RS pallet shuttles operate at high speeds around the clock. These systems allow warehouses to handle a higher volume of goods by storing goods vertically and efficiently navigating storage racks to retrieve items. AMRs, such as pallet-moving robots, autonomously transport goods to different areas of the warehouse. For example, a pallet-moving AMR may transport goods from the receiving dock to a high-density storage racking system, where the goods may be transferred to a pallet shuttle for storing. This efficient transportation of goods through the warehouse saves time, minimizes delays, and increases overall throughput.

Using these technologies together results in a seamless flow of goods and reduced labor costs and errors. Increased efficiency and storage density also reduce the need for manual handling of heavy cases of goods, which improves worker safety.

AS/RS and AMRs are highly flexible and scalable. These systems can be easily scaled up or down according to business needs, as operations grow or seasonal demands change. AMRs can be reprogrammed and reallocated to automate different processes, from order picking to replenishment, as operational needs evolve. This adaptability allows warehouses to get the best return on their investment.  

Advantages of AS/RS Pallet Shuttles

AS/RS pallet shuttles are transforming warehouse operations, specifically in environments where high-density storage of goods is a must. Pallet shuttles, such as Prime Robotics’ RackBot,  move autonomously within a racking system to store and retrieve pallets. Pallet shuttles store and retrieve goods from vertical racks with deep storage lanes, which allows warehouses to maximize their available space. This is particularly useful in warehouses with limited space and a high volume of goods. 

RackBot is a durable solution designed to handle pallets up to 3,000 pounds. This means products are safely transported through the racking system and are less likely to become damaged. Costs associated with replacing goods are minimized, leading to greater savings. Pallet shuttle solutions like RackBot use vertical storage and pallet sequencing to maximize warehouse space, allowing more goods to be stored in the same footprint. 

AS/RS pallet shuttles significantly decrease the time it takes to store and retrieve goods compared to traditional forklifts. Human interaction with heavy loads and complex machinery is minimized, reducing costs associated with manual labor and decreasing the likelihood of accidents. This also reduces costs associated with worker injuries and saves warehouses money in the long run. 

Solutions like RackBot also integrate with warehouse management systems (WMS) to ensure accurate inventory management and reduce errors in misplaced or improperly handled items. 

Advantages of Pallet-Moving Robots

Pallet-moving AMRs complement AS/RS pallet shuttles by handling ground operations. Solutions like Prime’s MobilePallet use advanced software and sensors to navigate the warehouse floor and move goods safely and efficiently. MobilePallet transports pallets up to 4,400 pounds through the warehouse, from receiving areas to storage areas, and integrates with RackBot to bring pallets to their proper destination within the racking system.

Pallet-moving AMRs like MobilePallet are highly flexible. Traditional forklifts require clear, wide paths and pose safety risks to human workers. MobilePallet navigates tight spaces and uses advanced safety features like bump bars and LiDAR technology to avoid obstacles and keep the workplace safe. This makes AMRs like MobilePallet particularly useful in dynamic environments where layouts change regularly. These robots can also be reprogrammed to perform different tasks as warehouse needs shift. 

Collaboration Between AS/RS and AMRs

Warehouses can maximize operational efficiency by integrating pallet-moving AMRs with AS/RS pallet shuttles. For example: upon arrival and receipt at the warehouse, MobilePallet may transport a pallet to a designated storage area, where the pallet may be transferred to RackBot. RackBot will then navigate autonomously through the racking system and place the goods in their optimal storage location. When the items are needed for shipping, the process reverses–RackBot retrieves the pallet from the racking system and hands it off to MobilePallet for delivery to the packing station and shipping area. 

These systems use advanced navigation technology and software to coordinate their actions. They communicate through a central WMS  that also tracks inventory and tasks in real time to streamline operations. If one area of the warehouse becomes in high demand, these systems can communicate to prioritize work in that area. This may include deploying more robots to address the demand as quickly as possible. 

When these systems work together, pallets of goods are safely transported through the warehouse and inventory errors are minimized, reducing costs associated with damaged or misplaced goods. 

Implementation Challenges to Consider

Implementing AS/RS and AMRs in a warehouse environment requires careful planning and preparation. It’s important to evaluate all the costs involved, from initial investment to maintenance expenses, to ensure ROI goals will be achieved. 

These new systems must be properly integrated with existing warehouse infrastructure in order to achieve operational efficiency. Partnering with a robotics provider that takes the time to learn your existing systems and processes, assess software compatibility, and ensure all systems are able to work alongside each other is key. 

Warehouse staff must be trained on how to properly use and integrate the systems into their day-to-day tasks, which takes time and resources. Staff will also need to learn how to perform routine maintenance and system updates, as well as protocols to follow when a complex issue arises. 

Final Thoughts

AS/RS and AMRs are helping warehouses of all sizes improve efficiency, safety, and accuracy. By leveraging AS/RS pallet shuttles and pallet-moving AMRs to automate the storage, retrieval, and movement of goods through the warehouse, warehouses streamline operations and achieve unmatched productivity. Warehouses that embrace this technology now will stand apart from competitors and position themselves optimally for future growth.

Contact us to schedule your workflow assessment and learn how Prime’s AS/RS and pallet handling solutions can optimize your warehouse operations. 

Prime Robotics