Automated Storage & Retrieval Systems (ASRS)

Whether it’s for heavy unit loads like pallets or smaller loads like totes and cases, storage is a fundamental requirement of every distribution centre.

Yet storage is a paradox. On one hand, it adds value by providing a critical buffer between your processes and your customer, whilst on the other hand, it adds cost in land, building and inventory.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) from Dematic are designed to minimise and mobilise your stock. They secure products, eliminate damage, and increase productivity and accuracy. All the while saving footprint, power, time and money.

What are AS/RS Systems?

Automated storage and retrieval systems, sometimes known as ASRS are computer-controlled systems that automatically place and retrieve loads from set storage locations in a facility with precision, accuracy and speed.


Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems. Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems (ASRS) are most commonly used in manufacturing and distribution facilities. They typically replace large areas of shelving to save floor space, improve safety and increase productivity.

Advantages/Benefits of AS/RS

  • Efficiency: An ASRS can notify workers of inventory nearing its expiration date and prioritise shipments on a first-in, first-out basis, thereby preventing spoilage. This is a critical advantage for warehouses dealing with cold chain products like produce, dairy, pharmaceuticals, and even machine components where corrosion is a concern.
  • Productivity: An ASRS doesn’t need to take a break or double-check manifests. This enables continuous operation, and, as a result, much greater throughput than a warehouse without an ASRS.
  • Volume Utilisation: Automated equipment doesn’t need much space to operate. An ASRS allows aisles to be narrower and racks higher, maximising warehouse floor space.

These advantages amount better process control for products. This makes an ASRS an valuable addition to warehouses where products are sensitive and have to be handled and stored with care. Supply chains that specialise in chemically reactive items like pharmaceuticals and film or perishable items like food products are well served by an ASRS.

How it works

Unit load ASRS systems are larger systems that typically store and retrieve pallet loads. Mini-load ASRS Systems moves products in cartons, trays or totes. Both ASRS have the same configuration. A storage rack with narrow aisles between allows a tall-masted crane to move down the centre of the aisle on a raised metal rail.

As the mast approaches a designated storage location, a carriage travels up or down the mast to the level where the product to be selected is located. A load-handling mechanism is mounted on the carriage and it reaches into the location and either place or retrieves the load.

A Storage and Retrieval Machine or SRM is a crane that includes the mast, carriage and load handling device. Most automated storage warehouses use one SRM per aisle, however, more sophisticated systems may have more than one crane per aisle. For lower throughput systems, a single crane may be assigned to multiple aisles and navigate the turn by way of a transfer cart.

Types of AS/RS Systems

  1. Mini Load ASRS
  2. Unit Load ASRS

Frequently Asked Questions

  • High performance: ASRS systems are designed with throughput in mind. Travel, hoisting, forkspeed, acceleration, and positioning accuracy have been carefully considered to provide an optimal automation solution, customisable to specific business needs, providing the best possible performance and economy.
  • Safety: the use of many safety sensors ensure that operational safety is never compromised, including checks for stability of loads, dimensions, and weight.
  • Easy Maintenance: Not only designed for outstanding performance, Dematic’s ASRS solutions are also designed for ease of services, and long lasting, reliable performance.
  • Customisable: ASRS systems can be specially designed to meet a range of applications and loads, such as for cold storage or in freezers. Load handling devices are selected and configured to match customer needs and product range.
  • Sustainable: ASRS machines are designed with log energy consumption and energy recovery in mind, as well as low maintenance and spare parts requirements, long life, and lowest overall lifecycle costs.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems are designed to minimise and mobilise your stock. They secure products, eliminate damage, and increase productivity and accuracy. All the while saving footprint, power, time and money.

In an ASRS warehouse, bulk stock in pallets, totes, or cases is stored and retrieved by machines that move within the storage racking to access storage locations. In an ASRS warehouse, the automatic receiving, putting away and retrieving of stock means the link between bulk reserve storage and online buffer storage is fast, efficient and cost effective. Compact in design and free from the burden of rising labour costs, ASRS solutions deliver productivity and throughput gains whilst dramatically reducing the need for land and building footprint by maximising storage density.

ASRS is commonly used by manufacturers to store stock of parts or ingredients prior to manufacture, or to store finished products before distribution. The high-density configuration of ASRS allows for more product storage per square metre than a manuage storage area, and can operate in a range of temperature environments. An ASRS also provides high-security storage ideal for high-value or hazardous products.

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Case Study

Caterpillar Parts Distribution Center

The Challenge:
With over 1.4 million part numbers available for shipment to customers in over 150 countries, the order fulfillment process is complex and demanding. The overall goal for the new order fulfillment system: enhance the customer experience while increasing operational efficiencies.

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