The Many Possible Uses of AutoStore™

AutoStore fits almost any location or business need, allowing quick expansion or downsizing whenever you want. Learn how customers around the world have integrated the modular system with other technologies to create tailor-made, automated warehouse solutions.


What makes AutoStore so versatile and adaptable to so many industries?

AutoStore revolutionized the market for automated small parts warehouses more than 25 years ago with its ingenious idea of stacking containers on top of each other for storage and retrieval using Robots. Thanks to the ongoing development of its hardware and software, AutoStore is now the fastest order fulfillment system per square meter on the market. It combines the highest storage density of all order fulfillment systems with a very high throughput capacity and low energy consumption.

This broad range of attributes, combined with a modular flexibility, makes AutoStore suitable for small and large distribution centers, urban micro-hubs, and even small owner-operated businesses. Currently, more than 1,150 systems are in use in 49+ countries worldwide. The installations range from around 1,000 Bins to systems that have been expanded several times and today use 1 million+ Bins.

The list of successful AutoStore integrations and deployments are seemingly endless, but C.E. Pattberg of Hattingen, Germany, is a particularly good example of how to put the system's flexibility to good use. The company, which manufactures tapes for packaging, decorating, and crafting has expanded its system from 7,800 Bins and 8 Robots in 2018 to more than 10,000 Bins and 10 Robots. Two Ports serve as combined inbound/outbound workstations.

AutoStore can also be used to implement high-performance systems, as PUMA impressively shows. The huge facility in Indiana includes 276,000 Bins and 265 Robots with a capacity of 11,500 Bin presentations per hour.

How is AutoStore integrated into different material handling workflows?

AutoStore gives integrators and intralogistics planners a kit of parts to shape and mold into a customized solution that fits any space or workflow. This makes it particularly effective for businesses operating within tall, space-limited facilities. To overcome this challenge, AutoStore can be installed on a raised mezzanine, with Ports on the ground floor below the Grid connected to the AutoStore with BinLifts.

AM Logistics Solutions used this idea to develop a high-efficiency, two-story solution that stores almost 150,000 Bins and 3.5 million items for sporting goods manufacturer ERIMA. Storage and picking takes place at 11 CarouselPorts™, which are connected via conveyor technology.

Man using AutoStore to complete order fulfillment.
German sportswear maker ERIMA made the most of a compact space by creating their own multi-story AutoStore system.

A German car manufacturer uses AutoStore as a production buffer in a fully digitized, automated process. The material stock on the production line is automatically replenished according to the Kanban principle. An AutoStore Robot brings the Bin with the electronically requested parts to a Port. There, they are removed by a picking Robot and transferred to a mobile transport robot, which takes them to the correct unloading point on the production line.

AutoStore can also be integrated with conveyor systems directly within the material flow. AutoStore Robots place the Bins in transfer cells on the conveyor. This enables seamless transport of items and creates connections between floors and platforms via spiral conveyor technology or elevators.

Transfer cells form the physical interface between the AutoStore system and other intralogistics plant areas at Siemens in Chemnitz, Germany.

Can AutoStore be integrated with third-party technologies?

AutoStore is designed to easily integrate with other warehouse technologies. For example, Kardex is currently implementing the transfer cell concept at electrical wholesaler Sonepar's central logistics center in Wallisellen, Switzerland, together with automatic picking and packaging. Sonepar sells more than 220,000 products via its own web shop and promises customer delivery within 24 hours.

The Kardex Pick & Pack solution will enable Sonepar to process small-scale orders through a fully automated process. A Robomotive gantry robot will operate two AutoStore CarouselPorts in parallel by picking articles from AutoStore Bins and placing them in order boxes. The system is designed with a capacity of 300 picks per hour.

A model of the integrated AutoStore and Kardex Pick & Pack solution at Sonepar.

Apologistics has implemented a highly automated, 24/7 fulfillment center in Duiven, Netherlands. The company, which belongs to the Group, operates Europe's most modern, fully automated logistics center for supplying online pharmacies with over 100,000 different products.

The 20,000-sqm facility includes an AutoStore with 92,000 Bins, connected piece-picking robot stations from RighthandRobotics, and image processing software for article recognition for the control and documentation of each individual pick. Up to six Bins can be served via the Ports at the fully automatic Robot picking stations.

Each picking robot works autonomously, scanning and placing thousands of articles per day into the order cartons and refilling AutoStore Bins to replenish the storage Grid.

Is AutoStore energy efficient?

The energy efficiency of AutoStore is an advantage for any business. Robots require an average of 100 watts per operating hour and thus have a very small energy footprint compared to other automated intralogistics solutions. By recovering energy from braking or lowering the containers, the batteries are repeatedly supplied with power.

Overall, AutoStore is so energy efficient that an average system with 3 ConveyorPorts™, 7 Carousel Ports, 1 Controller, 40 R5™ robots, and 30 R5 charging stations operating 8 hours per day and 250 days per year consumes approximately 13,600-KWh per year.

This output can be generated with an approximately 70-sqm photovoltaic system. The Norwegian electrical wholesaler Berggård Amundsen creates 230,000 KWh of energy per year with 1,050 rooftop solar cells at its logistics center south of Oslo – enough electricity to run from April to January while operating 40 electric vehicle charging stations.

How is AutoStore used as an in-store micro-fulfillment solution?

AutoStore is used as a micro-fulfillment solution in multiple retail applications. For Peterhans Handwerkercenter AG, Element Logic installed an AutoStore micro-fulfillment center (MFC) inside a Swiss retail store to supply online customers.

The application solves the challenge of meeting short order lead times with limited space. It holds 4,000 Bins on just 100 sqm of floor space with an output of 224 picks per hour. The system was completed within just five months, from procurement to commissioning and startup.

IKEA in Zagreb, Croatia and Decathlon in Canada also use AutoStore as an MFC solution within brick-and-mortar stores. The system enables these retailers to link their online and offline business while giving customers new shopping experiences, 24/7 pick-up services, and door-to-door delivery.

The trend of shopping online and picking up in-store is quickly becoming an attractive alternative to "last-mile" delivery. In order to be able to offer a solution for this service, AutoStore has developed the PickUpPort™, an intuitive self-service module for picking up goods ordered online. It's tailor-made for click-and-collect operations, and just one more example of the many possible uses of the AutoStore system.

Woman collecting product from AutoStore PickUpPort.

Peter Bimmermann
Managing Director, Germany

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