Daifuku North America Blog

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems: Unit Load, Mini Load, What’s the Difference?

Posted by Chelsie Spencer on 6/27/14 1:46 PM
Find me on:

Many companies are looking to automate their warehouse or distribution facility with Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) . The top reasons include minimizing costs, decreasing downtime, maximizing floor space and increasing efficiency. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) are a combination of equipment and controls that handle, store, and retrieve materials with precision, accuracy and speed. Systems can vary from relatively simple, manually controlled point of use storage structures to computer-controlled storage and retrieval systems that are completely integrated into the manufacturing and distribution process. When a warehouse or distribution facility is looking to recapture floor space, improve efficiency or ensure inventory control that’s when an ASRS can come into play.

Miniload_ASRS1

There are different types of Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems, so which one is best for you? The most common are unit load and mini load.

The unit load ASRS is a high-density buffer designed to maximize vertical storage space, maintaining a compact footprint while handling pallet loads from 1,100 to 6,600 lbs and rack heights up to 130 feet. If you’re storing:

  • long or bulky items
  • hazardous materials or
  • frozen items
a unit load ASRS is also ideal! With savings from real estate, building, and labor, a unit load ASRS can be a financially attractive alternative to a conventional warehouse.

The mini load ASRS is a high-speed, high-density buffer that can replace conventional static rack to maximize vertical storage space within a compact footprint. The mini load moves and stores irregularly shaped goods or parts placed in:

  • stacking totes
  • collapsible totes
  • nesting containers and
  • case/cardboard boxes.
Items are transported to/from the mini load by conveyor, shuttle fork, side belt, side clamp, or Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV). Many of the latest mini load ASRS are being used for sequencing of product into orders that make up trailer loads, providing substantial downstream distribution network savings. Mini loads are also used to feed “Goods to Person” work stations and can be a great way to automate the medium to slow moving SKUs in a warehouse or fulfillment center.

Now that you know the difference between a unit load and mini load ASRS, you can better assess your warehouse or distribution center to see what would be the best fit!

Looking for more information? Contact us here

Topics: Material Handling Industry, ASRS, Automated Systems