What is a high-bay warehouse?
A high-bay warehouse is a warehouse with racks, or more precisely a storage system with high racks. It can have a height of 12 to a maximum height of 50 metres. This results in high space utilisation and storage capacity for a few hundred to tens of thousands of pallet spaces. High-bay warehouses - also known as HRLs for short - are usually steel constructions, but in some cases they can also be made of wood.
There are various designs of high-bay warehouses: for example, fully automatic high-bay warehouses in silo design, but manually operated racking systems and shelving systems are also possible. In between, there are several other construction variants and forms. For example, one speaks of silo construction when the racking is constructed in such a way that it supports both the roof and the façade.
Single-deep storage is mostly used as a storage technique, as here, in contrast to double racking, access to the picking locations and thus the goods is possible directly. This is the most common principle of storage, as only one storage unit is ever stored in the depth of the racking. Therefore, single-depth storage is very suitable for automation, for example for an automated small parts warehouse (AS/RS).
What is a high-bay warehouse used for?
A high-bay warehouse is used for the storage of goods and merchandise. A distinction is made between long goods and flat goods. When storing goods on pallets in the pallet warehouse, care should be taken to ensure optimum use of space in order to utilise the full capacity of all areas.
How does a high-bay warehouse work?
The function of storing and retrieving pallets in a high-bay warehouse is given by a warehouse management system (WMS) or warehouse management software. This system communicates with a material flow computer and controls the material flow including the conveyor technology, the storage and retrieval machines (SRM) and any other technology of trades within the building (hall or rack storage).
In each aisle between two rows of racking there is both a storage and a retrieval area. Here in the so-called pre-zone of a high-bay warehouse, the goods are delivered and picked up by the stacker crane for storage or deposited for retrieval.
Storage or retrieval is done by moving the stacker crane in longitudinal direction, e.g. on rails. Stacker cranes can be controlled automatically or manually. SRMs are manually operated when "person to goods" picking takes place in the pre-zone. When "goods to person" picking is done, the stacker crane is controlled automatically. When automatic operation is used, this part of the warehouse must be protected against access by people by means of fences, light barriers etc.
In an automatically operated high-bay warehouse, the movement of the individual load units to the forklift transfer points is carried out by the conveyor system. Conveyor technology also includes components such as chain conveyors, lifting tables, vertical conveyors or driverless transport vehicles. If the high-bay warehouse is operated manually, the foremost first places in the racks are always provided for the forklift transfer points.
- Low use of personnel
- Optimal use of space and area
- Fast storage and retrieval of goods
- Direct access to individual pallets
- Easy adaptation to a changed product range
- Several possible uses and combinations with other systems, especially for order processing at picking islands, such as with Pick-to-Light, Voice Picking, etc.
- Very high investment costs
- Extensive organisation necessary even before commissioning
- Possibility of total failure
- High-bay warehouses are only expandable to a limited extent
Although a high level of investment is required to implement this storage solution, high-bay warehouses have become indispensable in logistics and intralogistics.
Through the use and flexibility of different picking systems and solutions and in combination with a good warehouse management and material flow system, a high-bay warehouse is optimally suited for warehousing and picking.