The advent of omnichannel commerce is breathing new life into a mature storage technology: carousels. "For 10 years, people have been saying that carousels are a dying technology," says Corey Calla, president of carousel manufacturer White Systems. "But now, there are many new uses for them."
One of the most promising may be "buy online, pick up in store" (BOPUS) applications, where vertical carousels or vertical lift modules can be used to hold picked orders until the consumer shows up to retrieve them, Calla said during a press conference at the ProMat 2019 trade show in Chicago.
In most of these in-store implementations, the carousels are installed in the backroom and used by store employees. However, some retailers are placing them in the front of the store for self-service pickups.
White Systems is also developing a carousel module that can be installed outside the store for customer order retrieval. Calla said these units could be a good fit for urban distribution applications.
Carousels and vertical lift modules work well in store settings because they provide high-density storage for low- to medium-velocity goods. They're also much less expensive than other automated storage and retrieval systems and are known for their reliability, Calla added. "They're old but proven," he said.