Frequently Asked Questions General

AutoStore System

What is AutoStore™?

AutoStore is an automated storage and retrieval system, or AS/RS, also known as Cube-Based storage due to its shape and density. The design of AutoStore removes all excess space and air normally found around items traditionally stored on shelves.

Consisting of only 5 modules, items are stored in Bins which are stacked next to and on top of each other like building blocks within an aluminum Grid. Robots drive on tracks along the top continuously digging, retrieving, and delivering Bins to Ports (workstations) as directed by the system. Human workers access the inventory at the Port for order fulfillment. Robots then collect the Bins back to return to the Grid.

The result is a warehouse automation system providing brands with the reliability they need to create customer-winning logistics through speed, accuracy, and efficiency.

What is the operational temperature for the AutoStore modules?

Most AutoStore modules are approved for a temperature range of 2-35 degrees Celsius (35.6-95 degrees Fahrenheit).

The individual module operating temperature range information can be found in its product page technical specification section.

Is it possible to extend AutoStore?

Yes, it is possible to extend the system during "normal" operation. Expansion can include adding in Robots, Ports, or Bins to an operational system. Or the actual expansion of the Grid.

Can we use our existing software (ERP/Warehouse) with AutoStore?

Yes, probably. AutoStore offers different standard interfaces (APIs) for the communication between AutoStore and WMS (picking, goods in, and Port operations).

Do you need a service technician on site to run AutoStore?

You only need to have an AutoStore trained super user on site. The super user is usually an employee who will work with the AutoStore system while completing other tasks (e.g. picking shift leader).

Do you deliver key projects including design, software, hardware, installation/implementation, and documentation?

AutoStore is not involved in direct projects; our distributor network will handle all end-customer projects. In special cases, AutoStore can potentially handle total end-customer projects (such as when no local distributor is available or in special industrial areas/niches).

Does AutoStore log all information in case of failures and how is this organized?

Yes, all activity, including failures, is logged and traceable. The WMS can trace all Bins via Log Publisher. The customer’s WMS is responsible for maintaining the bin contents and backing-up of all critical data.

Are the Ports secured regarding injuries? What happens if someone puts a hand in the Port while Bins are exchanging?

All AutoStore Ports are equipped with multiple technical safety measures. Incorporation of safety measures; such as emergency stop button, guards, and safety hatch (measures may vary depending on the Port);ensures secure operation and prevents the possibility of crushing injuries.

If someone puts a hand in the Port while Bins are exchanging, it will trigger the safety stop, and the Port will cease all movement immediately and activate the emergency stop to assure Port remains safe to use. For the Port implemented with a safety hatch, the hatch will only open once a Bin is ready for a pick to guarantee safe operation.

What is the floor strength needed to install AutoStore?

A 16-Bin installation in height with a 30 kg (66 lb) load per Bin requires 2,000 kg/sqm (409 lb/sf).

Is the system equipped with a firefighting system?

No, but there are several solutions to protect AutoStore (e.g. sprinkler). Some customers also use an oxygen reduction process. The design recommendations for automated sprinkler systems are based on standards such as FM Global Data Sheets 8-34, NFPA13, EN12845 or VdS CEA 4001. See our e-book: “Testing for the Future: Product Safety” for detailed information about the crucial aspects of product safety including fire safety and fire protection.

When do you expect to be finished with the approval for 50 kilograms (110 pounds) per bin?

AutoStore standard is a max 30 kg (66 lbs) load per Bin. Further development is “demand-and-market-driven”.

What is the man hour efficiency improvement I can expect using the AutoStore?

This is case-by-case since there are many factors influencing this calculation (e.g. picking speed before and after, error reduction ratio, or storage area reduction).

Is it possible to install AutoStore if the height of the Grid will not be the same all over the Grid (different height from the top of the Grid to the floor)?

Yes, our only requirement is that the top of (each) Grid is flat (on the same height level).

Is it possible to have AutoStore Grids installed on different floor levels in the building?

Yes. Bin Lift Grid-to-Grid (G2G) configuration allows Bins to flow between Grids on different floor levels.

Bin Lift is currently only available in the EU, United States, Canada, Japan, Korea, China, Israel, Panama, Serbia, and Uruguay.

We are working on adding more countries with the applicable product approvals. Note that it may take longer in some countries to get approval.

Do I need to remove existing pillars in my warehouse to install AutoStore?

No, AutoStore can be designed around obstacles like pillars, pipes, and walls.

What is the center-to-center distance (length-width) between the Bins?

Single/Double Grid: 705 mm (27.8 in) in wide grid direction and 480 mm (18.9 in) in narrow Grid direction.

Double/Double Grid: 705 mm (27.8 in) in wide grid direction and 505 mm (19.9 in) in narrow Grid direction.

Is it possible to use AutoStore for cold/refrigerate warehouses?

Yes, it is possible to use AutoStore modules in a refrigerated warehouse down to 2 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit) provided it is a constant environment (e.g. low, constant humidity and temperature; Operating humidity on the modules is 40-90%, non-condensing).

Is it possible to use AutoStore for deep freeze warehouses?

No, it is not approved by AutoStore to have an AutoStore system in an environments less than 2 degrees Celsius (35 degrees Fahrenheit).

Are there any requirements in our warehouse for the floor with regards to misalignment?

Yes, there are requirements in accordance with industrial standards. For more information, contact our team or your integration partner.

What is the AutoStore lead time?

Standard lead time is 20 weeks from purchase order to delivery from our factory. This is subject to change based on world supply chains and shipping availability.

Can AutoStore be used in ESD protected areas?

Yes, the system was, in fact, originally designed for usage in the electronic component business. AutoStore Bins are also available in a PP-ESD variant.

Can AutoStore be used in a clean room environment?

The modules only have IP20 and are not approved for a clean room environment.

What is the lead time to execute a Bin retrieval from order to presentation?

The AutoStore system continuously optimizes the Bin delivery time by preparing bins throughout the operation, making sure the time to complete an order is kept to a minimum.  

Most requested Bins are found on the top due to the natural distribution of product requests, but even bins found on the lowest level of the Grid (16th level) take only 3 minutes 36 seconds to retrieve - plus Robot transportation time to the Port.

When digging for a bottom Bin, the system directs other Robots to Bins available for picking to open Ports, ensuring maximized picking efficiency, performance, and no interruptions in the workflow.

What is the mean time between failures (MTBF)?

Mean time between failures (MTBF) is the average time between system failures and is used as a system reliability parameter. Our system MTBF is calculated by dividing the total number of hours our Robots are running by the total number of system failures.

An accurate measurement of MTBF is highly dependent on the shift duration, temperature, average Bin load, and other circumstances, but our customers have achieved an MTBF of over 3,000 hours.

AutoStore continuously aims to improve system performance and continues searching for new ways to increase uptime for our customers.

What is the mean time to repair/recovery (MTTR)?

If there are any deviations in the module, the following things can happen:

  • In most cases, XHandler will automatically fix the problem without stopping the system
  • On rare occasions when the XHandler is not able to automatically handle the problem, the system can have a “delayed stop.” This feature ensures only the damaged module is stopped before the on-site AutoStore super user is ready to retrieve the module. A trained AutoStore super user will typically spend three to five minutes retrieving the module and restarting operations. When operations restart, other modules will follow the system logic and pick up the slack for their injured teammate so system performance is maintained.

Is it possible to do night preparation?

Night preparation is a strategy where the customer knows all, or maybe only a certain number of, Bins needed to fulfill the orders the next day. The orders may already be in the system the evening before and the customer could benefit from pre-digging the Bins at night.

The more Bins known, the better the night preparation and the new Bin distribution will be. Night preparation is possible if the Robots get enough charging time during the night. It might be necessary to have a super user on site if something goes wrong during the night.

What is the power consumption of AutoStore?

Best in class. One comparison done by a customer shows AutoStore use 10-15% of energy when compared with mini-load. A system with 10 Robots needs the same amount of energy as a vacuum cleaner.

Can AutoStore be built in earthquake areas?

We have systems in countries like Japan, the United States, and Italy. There is no general approval, test, or certificate. Local distributors take care of local requirements.

AutoStore has carried out seismic tests in the United States in January and February 2019.

Will Double/Double Grid replace the Single/Double Grid?

The Double/Double Grid (DDG) is future proven and can be used in all new systems. We are still able to deliver a Single/Double Grid (SDG) when preferred by the customer or for extensions on existing systems.

What are the future developments for AutoStore?

We are dedicated to consistently enhancing the performance of the AutoStore system, with a focus on maintaining the same level of the value proposition for all customers, regardless of the size of their system. This includes efforts to optimize both the hardware and software components of the solution.

As a software integrator, I would like to make an Interface to AutoStore?

Our standard AutoStore interface is open for each interested WMS supplier. An NDA agreement between the parties is required before each interested party can develop their interface to AutoStore.

Currently, we interface with SAP, Red Prairie, etc.

Patents in general

We are continuously filing new patent applications to secure our IP.

Is it possible to change the picking list?

Yes, changes of already transferred tasks or task groups to AutoStore are possible. But each change may have a negative influence on the speed and efficiency of the system later on as the system may already have used Robot resources to prepare that Bin.

After the release of R5+, what is next?

We continue develop our Robots as well as other items on our roadmap. We are continuously innovating to meet new market demands.

I'm a consultant. Can I start promoting AutoStore?

AutoStore is distributed via our AutoStore distributor network. But it is possible that consultants can cooperate with one of our distributors. Consultants can reach out during the concept creation phase of new projects and cooperate with the System Design team and the Business Development teams in the US and in Germany. Also, system design trainings can be offered to consultants.

What is the range covered by each access point?

2.4 GHz: Up to 30 Robots (Max. 50)/standard range circle 25 m radius per AP (max. up to 50 m).

Old systems in Europe: 433 MHz: Up to 30 Robots/standard range circle 25 m radius per AP (max. up to 50 m).

Old systems in US: 915 MHz: Up to 30 Robots (Max. 50)/standard range circle 25 m radius per AP (max. up to 50 m).

If my warehouse has pillars, do I need access points between all the pillars?

This need is decided case-by-case. A minimum setup for each system is two APs. In special cases, you will need extra AP to avoid black spots due to building constructions.

How much time does it takes to pick up a Bin stored at the bottom of the Grid?

For an example of an installation of 16 Bin levels: Minimum of 3 minutes, 36 seconds (plus 3 minutes, 36 seconds to cleanup afterwards).

But this digging process will normally be done in the background and in advance (i.e. before the Bin is requested and presented at a Port).

Does the system need to shut down if a Robot jams on the Grid?

No. The AutoStore software module, XHandler, will attempt to resolve error situations that occur with the Robot without stopping the system. If the issue cannot be resolved through automation, the control software can temporarily isolate the affected area while keeping the system running and only halt the system as a last resort.

How likely is there to be a fire within an AutoStore system?

The chances for a fire starting and developing within an AutoStore system is limited. This is due to the way we stack our Bins within the Grid combined with our unique Bin design. AutoStore has carefully designed and tested specifically for fires over the last 10 years.

Does AutoStore perform fire tests?

Yes, we have done many fire tests over the last 10 years. We are continuously making improvements to reduce risks in general.

My customer wants Bin openings on the sides for fire approval. Is this required?

In many countries the authorities want openings in the Bins to let water from the sprinkler system penetrate a warehouse system. In a system like AutoStore, our tests have shown an extremely slow fire growth because of the lack of oxygen, and we have proven a sprinkler system can suppress or control the fire. This is one of the reasons we do not have openings in the Bins.

In which project situations is AutoStore particularly advantageous?

  • Brownfield locations and/or space constraints
  • High number of Bins needed
  • Project with significant security concerns
  • High-visibility locations
  • Fast-growing business
  • Time constraint projects
  • Workstations with throughput needs of up to 650 bins per hour

What makes brownfield locations, or other locations with space constraints, particularly suitable for AutoStore?

AutoStore can leverage space more efficiently in a brownfield location, or other locations where space is limited, due to its dense design. Because AutoStore condenses the space between items through utilization of a cube design, it provides a solution that automatically reduces a storage footprint by up to 75%. This provides options for operations wishing to stay in their current location or move to a building closer to their customers (final mile delivery).

What makes a high number of Bins particularly suitable for AutoStore?

The cube storage grid design with flexible robots (which are not limited to specific parts of the grid) enable a high efficiency even for projects with a high number of Bins.

What makes projects with significant security concerns particularly suitable for AutoStore?

AutoStore solutions are theft-proof due to its cube storage design; only the very top layer is accessible by humans, but even this would require significant effort and can be monitored by camera. In addition, bins are not see-through and compactly stored within the grid. Only the system has a record of what item is in what Bin and this is traceable through an audit trail which records all Bin movement.

What makes high-visibility locations particularly suitable for AutoStore?

The AutoStore solution is sleek and elegant. Our Robots are quiet workers with R5 running at only 70db and B1 even lower than that. This makes it suitable for in-store or library applications.

What makes time constraint projects particularly suitable for AutoStore?

AutoStore is easy to implement with an average installation time of just 20-26 weeks, about 50% lower than most aisle-based solutions.

What makes fast-growing businesses particularly suitable for AutoStore?

AutoStore is future-proof and its grow-while-running ability makes it particularly suitable for high growth companies like e-commerce players ramping up capacity by an order of magnitude.

Expanding AutoStore can happen in various ways from adding more Robots, Ports, and/or Bins for capacity and higher throughput, to expansion of the Grid for additional storage space. All can happen without interrupting ongoing warehouse operations and maintaining the same reliability (uptime), performance, stability, and usability our customers have come to expect from AutoStore. Some of our customers are on their eighth system expansion.

Is it possible to relocate the AutoStore system?

Yes. The AutoStore system, including the existing modules, can be relocated without any major disruptions.

It is important to note that all components must meet the quality requirements of the AutoStore to be reused.

Red Line vs. Black Line

Will current Red Line solutions become obsolete after the introduction of the Black Line?

No. The Red Line will continue to be the core of the AutoStore product portfolio with new updates (e.g. software) and development.

Will the Black Line have any implications on the standard AutoStore interface?

There will be no implications as the software interface remains the same.

Are certain industries more suitable for Black Line vs Red Line solutions?

No. Black Line and Red Line address different throughput requirements, which can vary even within one industry.

Will the uptime of Black Line be comparable to the high level of Red Line uptime?

Since both Red Line and Black Line are built on the same technology platform, we expect a similar level of reliability.

Can you combine modules from Red and Black Line within one system?

Yes, with some highlights:

  • R5 and R5+ Robots can run on SDG and DDG (R5 and R5+ can run on DDG with extended chassis)
  • B1 Robots can run on SDG and DDG, but only DDG makes sense from a throughput point of view
  • CarouselPort and ConveyorPort can be used with DDG and B1 Robots
  • R5 and R5+ Robots can be used with RelayPort
  • 425mm Bin can only be used by R5+ and B1

Let’s talk and find your perfect design

AutoStore™ can fit any warehouse or fulfillment center.
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