The ABC of the shuttle storage systems – 10-part blog series!

We present you the basics of the shuttle technology in our 10-part blog series, we explain the difference between shuttles and miniloads and we go into detail about the future of both, partly rival systems. Especially, shuttle systems become increasingly popular, but is their usage useful at all time? Is the miniload “out of fashion”? This and a lot of other questions we are going to amplify in the course of the blog series.

Flow Rack System – Driven By Gravity Or Safety?

Powered flow rack warehouses for pallets, unit loads and trays up to 1500 kg are based on the renowned GEBHARDT pallet accumulation conveyor type 525 – which has been synonymous with robust handling and energy efficiency technology for decades.


This system has many benefits. Space is used optimally since the lanes do not Need to decline. There is also a low profile construction. The warehouse works according to the first-in first-out principle. This ensures that the goods stored first are also removed from the warehouse first. As compared to the gravity systems, the GEBHARDT flow rack warehouse offers a much higher amount of safety for both the goods and the staff. The system works without a decline; brakes cannot fail; it works without line pressure and guarantees safe removal of the pallets even with damaged running rails. The warehouse has a load side and removal side. This leads to short travel and efficient work. The warehouse also can be expanded virtually without limitation. The flow rack channels can be 10 m or 100 m long. – No decline needs to be considered.

Sorting and Supply with AS/RS Supply T-Car e.g. with pallet lifter


The powered flow rack warehouse offers safety that is only possible with a powered horizontally placed flow rack system of accumulation roller conveyors. This means comprehensive safety for pallets with heavy and light conveyed goods and for the people who operate the warehouse. GEBHARDT accumulation roller conveyors guarantee safe continuous operation as every single roller is powered. The pallets are transported on powered rollers and accumulate automatically with zero line pressure. No „braking“ – therefore also no danger that pallets break free and hit the floor with destructive force.

Technical Features

  • Horizontal flow rack channels – each carrier roller is driven
  • Drive of several channels by a common motor – Drive parts like chains and gears are protected in the frame profile
  • Secure, smooth pallet transport – conveyor speed 0.2 m/s – each flow rack channel is designed as an accumulation roller conveyor
  • Lowest power demand, only approx. 5 Watt per pallet – no group transport

Examples of application

  Chemical industry

  • Powered flow rack system with 3 levels and 17.5 m long channels
  • Feeding with an ASRS
  • Removal with a forklift truck
  • Storage capacity for 504 pallets, each with a weight of 500 kg
Food industry
  • Powered flow rack system with 2 levels for pallets
  • Top level for storage, lower for load supply
  • Top: Fully automated feeding by conveyor system, removal by lift truck
  • Lower: Feeding and removal by forklift truck
  • In the same company there is a second double level flow rack system with a storage capacity of 1000 pallets and an hourly capacity of 60 pallets. The lower level lies has a height of 2 m. The space beneath is used for stowing the partial pallets and for order picking. The feeding of the flow rack system takes place automatically by an AS/RS. The removal is carried out by a lift truck.
Beverage industry

Powered flow rack system for beverage pallets 1000 x 1200 x 1800 mm. Three levels, one on top of the other, 45 m long. Fully automatic in-feeding by an AS/RS system. Removal by a lift truck. ASS removal is planned within the framework of an expansion. A warehouse update by a material flow computer with integrated printer and screen provides constant information on the stock levels of 25 beverage types.

Warehouse capacity
approx. 2000 Pallets
Conveyance capacity
100 Pallets/h
Conveyor speed
0,2 m/s
Total drive output
10 kW

Energy Efficiency In Intralogistics: Lowering Costs, Protecting The Environment.

In the scope of the Blue Competence sustainability initiative of VDMA, an intralogistics technology supplier takes on board responsibility for economy, ecology and society. The objective is minimization of the energy and resource consumption by innovative Technology.

Opportunities for optimization of energy consumption
Energy consumption not only depends on the automatic conveyor and warehouse technology. The greater part of the energy consumption relates to heating/ventilation, lighting and other consumers. Therefore, it is necessary to choose a holistic approach when energy consumption should be reduced. Beside to the conveyor and warehouse technology the building technology is important. The processes and procedures of the operation of an automated system also have great influence.

Lowering costs, protecting the environment

The Blue Competence initiative of the VDMA helps to find sustainable products and companies who adopt sustainability. GEBHARDT decided early on to place its products and services under the Blue Competence flag of the VDMA. It has always been our objective to develop machines that keep the energy consumption as low as possible. This objective becomes more and more important particularly in times of increasing energy prices. GEBHARDT combines innovative software with advanced mechanics to achieve this objective. Optimization that only includes individual components utilizes only a small part of the optimization potential. In intralogistics the overall system must be monitored. The reduction of energy consumption often goes hand in hand with the also welcome effect of wear reduction. Both together reduce the operating costs and make the logistics center more efficient.

Suppliers of automated intralogistics systems have many opportunities to influence the energy consumption of the logistics center:

Light-weight construction

Especially in the area of warehouse technology it is important to implement targeted lightweight, because the reduction of the moving mass is the first step to reduce energy consumption. Extensive simulation tools, such as FEM, are necessary in the product development. This leads to the use of innovative materials and bonding techniques, such as gluing. The composite-miniload Cheetah is the pioneer in this industry here.

Dynamic adjustment / run on demand

The energy usage in logistics centers and thus also in automatic small-parts storage can fluctuate considerably during the course of the day. There is a great savings potential here. Smart dynamics adjustment allows for energy saving particularly in the traveling axis. Smart algorithms analyze the order loading and automatically adjust the dynamic parameters of the warehouse technology. Also conveyor technology should only run if there is something to convey. Therefore it is important to integrate an intelligent shutdown of drives. The dynamics of the conveyor system can be adapted to the order situation. Intelligent software ensures that the performance of several intralogistics components is synchronized and matched to each other. So, only the energy is consumed, which is actually needed.

Interim circuit coupling at AS/RS

The interim circuit coupling represents smart control of the traveling and lifting axis. The objective is to achieve the minimum traveling and lifting time for a maximum number of double cycles with the minimum energy consumption. The energy that is released, e.g. when the traveling axis is braked, is diverted to the lifting axis to supply the required movement of the lifting axis. This solution pays off immediately and reduces energy consumption by up to 20%.

Energy recovery at AS/RS

The energy generated in the movement and positioning energy released in the system is connected via the mains feedback device and the interim circuit of the frequency inverters. Generated energy that cannot be used in another axis can be fed back into the mains. This technology permits ASRS to save up to 50 % energy. Amortization with pallet handling ASRS is at approx. 2 years.


Smart software for saving energy comprise various functions. In addition to the dynamics adjustment, the path to be travelled must be minimized, e.g. by ABC analysis. The work load management can ensure that auxiliary processes like relocations are performed in times of low work load, e.g. at night. The storage and relocation strategies must be optimized for each individual application.

Continuous improvement

Energy consumption of a logistics center can be continually improved. The improvement process must be continually revised and updated. The starting point is the evaluation of consumption data, followed by a search for potential improvements. Efficiency is increased once potential savings are identified. The results must be measured, visualized and monitored before the process is instigated.

Plug&Convey – Future of conveyor technology

How easy can material handling systems be? Actually they can be very simple. All you need are a few different modules. Thereby powerful and reliable intralogistics systems can be created. Is a control such as a PLC required? No, in future not anymore. If each conveyor module has its own intelligent control box, an intelligent algorithm can set up the communication between the modules and enable an extensive functionality.

Flexibility is another advantage of this innovation. It is very easy and extremely quick to implement changes in function or layout. It doesn’t matter whether you want to expand the system or just change it, there is no programming knowledge needed, that is real plug and play. In addition to the intelligent control, it also needs an intelligent, configurable mechanic construction set which also makes it possible to reuse conveyor modules.

Image converted using ifftoany

How does it work? The software automatically detects the current layout, fully autonomous. This generates the base for an independent recognition of conveying routes. This is in turn the base for the automatically configuration of the material flow computer. Anyway the material flow computer can not be imagined as in the classical and central sense. The material flow functionality is represented by the decentralized intelligence. Thus, complex conveyor systems that are extremely fast and very easy to set up and to operate are coming up.


Also the visualization in this system is intelligent. The system reacts to every change in the status or even in the layout. The visualization is updated immediately – of course without any programming. The surface also provides information regarding the error handling, the maintenance or the status of the sensor and the actuator.

FlexBox Visualisierung

What are the benefits? First of all there is a massive reduction of the commissioning time. All modules are delivered preconfigured and ready for plug & convey.

Thereby the material flow can be easily set up, but also changed later without any problems. This is ideal for the intralogistics, the production and the assembly. Just if you think about Lean / Kaizen activities in companies, this system offers incredible benefits. Where it was previously necessary to plan complicated reconstructions, you can now independently optimize and adjust the material flow with the GEBHARDT System 600 without much preparation. The same applies to extensions of the system.

Due to the decentralization, the availability of the system is also increased because the downtimes can be minimized. Defective modules can be easily replaced in a few minutes.

This conveyor system enables completely new possibilities. In times of Industry 4.0, Internet of Things and increasing flexibility requirements, the GEBHARDT System 600 enables already today futuristic functions.