Pallet Shuttle

Semi-automatic compact system that uses an electric shuttle to load and unload the pallets inside shelves quickly and accurately.

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Pallet Shuttle

A compact storage system in which a shuttle, driven by an electric motor runs on rails inside the storage channels, replacing forklifts, considerably reducing operating times and enabling items to be grouped by channel rather than in complete lanes.

The Pallet Shuttle follows orders sent by an operator using a tablet with WiFi connection, depositing the load in the first free placement location in the channel and compacting the pallets as much as possible. By removing the need for forklifts to enter the lanes, storage capacity is increased in terms of depth, the risk of accidents and damage to the racks is negligible, operator movements are optimized and warehouse operation is modernized and made more flexible.

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Discover the main functionalities


It is an ideal solution for companies with a high volume of pallets per item and intensive loading and unloading activity.


Highlighted benefits

  • Greater diversification: each channel can be used to store a different item.
  • High productivity: increased flow of incoming and outgoing goods.
  • Greater capacity: Storage depth of up to 131 feet.
  • Highly cost-effective, thanks to the reduction in operating costs.
  • Decreased incidents and maintenance costs.
  • Many advanced functionalities can be easily controlled from the tablet.

Discover the advantages in detail

Technology applied at top operating speeds

Save space

  • Increased number of pallets in depth: Storage channels can exceed 131 feet in height; the maximum height is determined by the handling equipment used.
  • The system works with minimal clearances between levels, which allows for high-density storage.
  • Through the use of sensors the shuttles can position loads intelligently, eliminating empty spaces in the storage lanes. As a result, the effective capacity of the warehouse (which takes into account flows of goods in and out of the warehouse) reflects its physical capacity.

Save time

  • Loading and unloading times are reduced, since the operator does not need to move around inside the lanes.
  • The shuttle can travel at a speed of 295 ft./min when empty, or 148 ft./min when loaded.
  • Load lifting cycle of just 2 seconds.
  • With just a single command, the shuttle can progressively fill or empty a whole lane.

Increased productivity

  • Increased flow of goods in and out of the warehouse.
  • Unlike conventional drive-in systems, items can be grouped by channel, rather than requiring a full lane, thereby allowing for greater diversification.
  • Optimization of operator movements, using the product-to-person system: It is the load that moves to the operator.
  • While the Pallet Shuttle carries out a command, the operator collects another pallet, thereby achieving continuous movement.
  • Depending on temperature and load conditions, the shuttle has an operational range of up to 10 hours working at full throughput.
  • The lithium batteries are easily accessible and have fast connections that eliminate the need for wires, so that they can be changed quickly without interrupting the operation cycle.
  • Elimination of errors.
  • The system is easy to use and easy to maintain.
  • A single tablet can control up to 18 shuttles.
  • Inventory function: The shuttle counts the number of pallets stored in a channel.

Cost savings

These benefits, allied to its efficient use of energy, lead to immediate cost savings, making the Pallet Shuttle one of the most cost-effective compact storage systems available.

Versatility

  • The shuttle has built-in sensors that enable different types of pallets to be detected and handled.
  • The Pallet Shuttle models 4048 and 4840 are able to work with pallets of different widths and sizes. The 4048 model can be used to handle pallets 40" deep ( and around 48" front). The 4840 model can be used to handle GMA pallets, 48" deep.
  • All shuttles can operate in LIFO or FIFO mode. The operator uses the tablet to select the mode he/she wishes to work with.
  • The shuttle platform is designed to carry pallets that have a maximum buckling limit of 1 inch.
  • Any type of forklift can be used to handle the shuttle.
  • Up to 3,307 lbs. per pallet can be handled.
  • It is possible to install Mecalux’s Warehouse Management Software Easy WMS on the tablet.
  • The system is scalable. There is an easy option to increase the number of shuttles as the need to increase productivity arises.
Compatible pallet measurements - Mecalux® metal shelves

Safety

  • Thanks to the way that the structure is built, and given that forklifts do not need to drive into the lanes, the risk of accidents is practically non-existent and the metallic structure is not damaged, thereby keeping maintenance to a minimum.
  • There is a user management feature that prevents unauthorized personnel from using the shuttles.
  • Both the racking and the shuttles have built-in safety features specifically designed to ensure the correct operation of the Pallet Shuttle system:

Structure

In addition to regulatory requirements (signage, cladding with safety meshes, fall-prevention meshes, etc.), the structure of the Pallet Shuttle system also includes additional elements, such as:

Rail end stops - Mecalux® metal shelves

Rail end stops: These are L-shaped pieces made of folded sheet metal .3-in. thick, used as a detection element to slow and stop the shuttle in normal working conditions.

Pallet centralizers - Mecalux® metal shelves

Pallet centralizers: These are fitted to the entry/exit points in the storage channels to aid in the placement and centering of the unit load in the channel.

Shuttle

Advanced safety systems have been incorporated to avoid possible incidents caused by improper use. Most importantly:

Rail-end sensors - Mecalux® metal shelves

Rail-end: Used to detect the position of the Pallet Shuttle at the ends of the track.

Position sensors - Mecalux® metal shelves

Position sensors: Used to detect the position of pallets that are loaded on the Pallet Shuttle, or that have been deposited.

Locking system - Mecalux® metal shelves

Locking system: Safety device located at the bottom of the shuttle that is activated from the tablet. It increases the contact between the Pallet Shuttle and the forklift forks.

Safety bumper - Mecalux® metal shelves

Safety bumper: Used to prevent potential trapping or crushing.

Emergency stop button - Mecalux® metal shelves

Emergency stop button: Ensures the Pallet Shuttle stops for any preventive maintenance task.

Shuttle bumpers - Mecalux® metal shelves

Shuttle bumpers: Prevent possible collisions or incidents resulting from improper use.

Positioning camera - Mecalux® metal shelves

Positioning camera: Helps to maneuver the Pallet Shuttle in place in the channel and center it. It is especially helpful in very tall installations (optional).

Safety scanner - Mecalux® metal shelves

- Safety scanner: Monitors access to the tracks while the shuttle is operational (optional).

Mecalux Guarantee

Mecalux designs and manufactures all the component parts of the Pallet Shuttle compact storage system, including the special racking structure to ensure optimal movement of the shuttles. The company also manufactures its own shuttles.

This guarantees perfect operation and a perfect fit for all the different elements of the system, as well as their quality and compliance with the safety regulations in force in each country.

Thanks to the resources invested in R&D&I, Mecalux’s Pallet Shuttle includes the latest technological innovations, offering optimal performance at a very competitive price. It has innovative features, including remote control via tablet, the positioning camera and the safety scanner. It is also one of the fastest systems on the market and can be adapted to the specific needs of any warehouse, making it even more efficient.

Mecalux provides a warranty of five years for the Pallet Shuttle racking structure, of one year for the operation of the shuttle, and of six months for the operation of the batteries.

A way of quickly and frequently transporting pallets back and forth

According to the dictionary definition, a shuttle is a vehicle that travels to and fro between fixed points at frequent intervals. Mecalux’s Pallet Shuttle fits this description perfectly, with the journey being from the rack’s P&D station to the first available space in the storage channel, and back again (or vice versa, for unloading).

Eventually the evolution of compact storage systems raised the following question: Why not make it a motorized shuttle, instead of a forklift, that enters the storage channel to handle the pallets, increasing loading and unloading speeds and optimizing the effective capacity of the warehouse?

The smart answer was the Pallet Shuttle: The racking structure is adapted so a shuttle with an electric motor can move along the inside of storage lanes on a track, following the commands given by the operator using a WiFi tablet.

The forklift just leaves the load on the track, and the Pallet Shuttle picks it up and moves it independently, storing it in its placement location while keeping the pallets as compact as possible. By removing the need for forklifts to enter the lanes, handling times are reduced, storage capacity is increased in terms of depth, the risk of accidents and damage to the metal shelves is negligible, operator movements are optimized and warehouse operation is modernized.

This is how the Pallet Shuttle system offers a compact storage solution that reduces operating costs and improves performance in the supply chain. Making progress the smart way.

Pallet Shuttle - Mecalux® Metal shelves Pallet Shuttle operation controlled via a WiFi tablet Example of a compact warehouse with Pallet Shuttle and picking level - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Example of a compact warehouse with Pallet Shuttle and picking level

Compact semi-automated warehouse with Pallet Shuttle

In semi-automated installations, operators only need to handle the forklifts that carry the pallets and initiate the motorized shuttle’s activity. The movement of the shuttles inside the racking is automated.

Semi-automatic operation mode:

Operation: Step 1 - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Step 1

A forklift places the Pallet Shuttle in the channel where work is to be done.

Operation: Step 2 - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Step 2

Next, the forklift is used to position pallets one by one in the channel entrance, resting them on the load-bearing beams.

Operation: Step 3 - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Step 3

Using the tablet, the operator sends the command to the shuttle to start the loading operation. Once the location of the pallet has been identified, the Pallet Shuttle lifts the pallet slightly above itself and moves it horizontally until it reaches the first available location, where it deposits the pallet. Different sensors accurately control the movement of the load being stored.

Operation: Step 4 - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Step 4

The Pallet Shuttle returns to the beginning of the lane in order to repeat the operation with the next pallet, and so on, as many times as necessary until the channel is filled. Before the last position is filled, the shuttle is removed and the sequence is repeated in the next channel where work is required.

The semi-automated system allows for two types of operation:

LIFO Operation - Mecalux® Metal shelves

LIFO (Last In, First Out), where the last pallet loaded is the first to be unloaded. Loading and unloading is carried out from the same side. It is the most common system used with the Pallet Shuttle system.

FIFO Operation - Mecalux® Metal shelves

FIFO (First In, First Out), where the first pallet loaded is the first to be unloaded. Two access aisles are needed: One to load the goods and another to unload them. This FIFO system is relative, or by batches, recommended for completely loading or unloading a level.

Main features:

The forklift operator sends the storage and retrieval orders to the shuttle through a WiFi tablet. Operation is very simple and intuitive, and does not require special training. The most noteworthy features are:

Tablet for use in ambient temperature - Mecalux® Metal shelves
Tablet for use in ambient temperature - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Tablet for use in cold temperatures

1. Pallet selector

Selects the type of pallet to be handled


2. LIFO/FIFO configuration:

Selects the load management strategy


3. Change P&D station:

Selects which side of the structure you want to work on (in FIFO mode)


4. Locking system:

Activates the additional locking system, which increases contact between the Pallet Shuttle and the forklift forks.


5. Space-saving

Groups pallets at the beginning (LIFO) or end (FIFO) of the channel


6. Continuous loading/unloading:

Loads/unloads a channel without stopping

7. Partial unloading

Selects the number of pallets to be extracted


8. Inventory

Counts the number of pallets stored in the channel


9. Location signal

Activates the acoustic and light signals to identify the location of the selected shuttle


10. User management

Manages user permissions for the shuttles for authorized personnel


11. Operating mode selector:

Automatic or manual (for maintenance tasks)


12. Shuttle indicator:

Shows the number of shuttles in operation and their status

Safety and control: The foundations on which the system is built

In addition to the control tablet that transmits orders to the shuttle over WiFi, the system consists of two basic components:

  • The rack structure.
  • The motorized shuttle.

Structural components

Components of the Pallet Shuttle structure - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Shuttle components

Components of the Pallet Shuttle - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Automation accessible to everyone

In general, the Pallet Shuttle noticeably increases warehouse productivity when working with incoming and outgoing goods with a lot of pallets per item.

As such, it is the perfect option for:

  • Companies with few items and a large number of pallets.
  • Companies with a high level of loading and unloading activity.
  • Cold storage. It is ideal for warehouses where low temperatures are required, since it takes full advantage of the storage volume and reduces maneuvering times. The system is even more efficient when automated systems are installed, using stacker cranes or shuttles.
  • Buffers for temporary storage or picked orders.
  • Seasonal product warehouses, where inflow and outflow depend on the season, and goods are accumulated over a period until a given moment, when must all be released en masse, as is the case for ice creams or toys.
  • Warehouses that already use a compact system and need to access a greater number of items, store more pallets in depth or increase the number of incoming and outgoing movements, thereby increasing productivity.
Pallet Shuttle moving along the inside of a storage channel - Mecalux® Metal shelves

Pallet Shuttle moving along the inside of a storage channel

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