Frequently Asked Questions

General

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?

Each AutoStore module is approved for a temperature range of 2-35 degrees Celsius (35-95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Operating Humidity on the modules is 40-90%, NON-CONDENSING

Is it possible to extend AutoStore?

Yes, it is possible to extend the installation during "normal" operation. Expansion can include adding in Robots, Ports, or Bins to an operational installation. 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 AS 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.

Is the system secured regarding “crushing injuries”, especially in the filling station area?

Yes.

What is the floor strength needed to install AutoStore?

A 16-bins installation in height with a 30 kg (66 lb) load per bin requires 2,000 kg/sqm (4,409 lb/sqf).

Is the system equipped with a fire fighting 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.

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 installed on different floor levels in the building?

Yes. Bins are exchanged between the different floor levels via connecting BinLifts.

Currently, the BinLift is ONLY available in the European market. We are developing a new BinLift for the US and Asian markets with the applicable product approvals.

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 degree 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 installation in an environments less than 2 degree 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 12 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 (minimum, average, max as worst case)?

The system is designed to work ahead of picking as normal orders are know in advance (30 minutes). Robots are prepping by brining Bins to a higher level and providing a more stable throughput. The system is also designed to keep high movers at the top of the grid for faster access.

More urgent orders are possible, but may require extra capacity from free robots. To dig a bin from the lowest level of the grid (level 16) normally takes about 3.36 minutes. This does not include transportation time to the port. Worst case: digging may take 5-10 minutes.

What is the Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF)?

AutoStore is operating with greater than/equal to 98% system availability. Statistics from hundreds of installations show a 99.6% availability, on average, in 2019. For an AutoStore installation with 50 Robots and 12-16-hour shifts, we expect a failure rate of 1-2 short stops per working day.

If there are any deviations in the system:

  • The system will first try to fix them automatically. We call this functionality Xhandler.
  • Secondly, the system can have a “delayed stop”.

This means only the module will stop and wait for assistance, the system will not stop entirely. A skilled super user will use approximately 3 minutes to recover a system.

We continuously try to find better ways to secure high uptime.

What is the Mean Time to Repair/Recovery (MTTR)?

Typically, a stop could implicate a fast stop/start procedure of the system and last for approximately 3 minutes. It is important to note, in most of the normal, possible failure situations, the entire system will not go down.

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 miniload. A system with 10 robots needs the same amount of energy as a vacuum cleaner.

Can AutoStore be built in earthquake areas?

We have installations in countries like Japan, the US, 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 US 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 installations. We are still able to deliver a Single/Double grid (SDG) when preferred by the customer or for extensions on existing installations.

What are the future developments for AutoStore?

We continuously work with improving the performance of the AutoStore system, both on hardware and software.

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 Black Line, what is next?

We continue developing Red and Black Lines 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 25m radius per AP (max up to 50 m).

Old installations in Europe: 433 MHZ: Up to 30 robots/standard range circle 25 m radius per AP (max up to 50 m).

Old installations 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 installation is 2AP. 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 shutdown if a robot jams on the grid?

No. In the most situations the system will continue running. The AutoStore software module, Xhandler, will take over the failed robot and work to fix the error situation without stopping the system. Only in situations which can't be handled through automation or will create a risk for robot collisions will the system stop.

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. Some of our customers are on their eighth system expansion.

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:

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