An “Automated Storage and Retrieval System” (short: AS/RS, sometimes also “Automated small parts warehouse”) is a storage system in which small-volume units such as screws or electronic parts are stored. These Systems are always automated, in comparison to high-bay warehouses.

An AS/RS consists of the storage system, the stacker crane, the load handling devices, countless containers and a picking area.

The units are located in containers such as cartons or plastic boxes (trays), which are stored in the respective shelf. If there is more than one container in a shelf, it is called double-deep storage. If comparatively small parts are stored in the container or if there is a low turnover, then different articles can be placed in the same container. A prerequisite for this mixed occupancy is support from the warehouse management system.

The small parts warehouse is served by stacker cranes or shuttle vehicles. These automatically engage the handles or grip rails of the bins as needed to pull them from the shelf onto the LAM or push them back into the compartment. Stacker cranes can usually carry up to 300 kilograms and usually reach a speed of approximately 7 m/s. Shuttle vehicles can be used, among other things, to save handling operations by transporting the goods directly to their destination via a rail system.

Since an AS/RS works on the principle – goods to person – the AS/RS and the picking zone are closely linked. Outside the storage system, the area between the picking zone and the warehouse can have a flexible layout and does not have to connect directly. Then the articles reach the picker by means of automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

An AS/RS is planned according to the tightest tolerance specifications and therefore places the highest demands on manufacturing accuracy and assembly precision – while making full use of the room height.

For more information on the transportation of goods in logistics, see Logistics networks: An overview.

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