AS/RS Safety & Service: Keeping Your System Up and Running for Long-term Benefits

  • January 26, 2015
  • Westfalia Technologies, Inc.
  • Feature


By: Bob Douglas, Westfalia Technologies.

You wouldn’t buy a car and wait until the brake pads completely wore out to replace them. Or, you wouldn’t drive 20,000 miles before you go for an oil change. The same goes for an automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS). As with a car, preventative maintenance is the key to an AS/RS’ longevity, reliability and safety.

Although an AS/RS can generate ROI in about five years, proper service and maintenance further maximize this investment and can lead to a system lifespan of 25+ years, thus lowering the total cost of ownership and providing long-term operational efficiencies. In order to realize these benefits and ensure that the AS/RS stays in pristine – and safe – condition, companies must take into consideration the following best practices.

Make Time for Training: Long before getting an AS/RS system up and running, it is vital for operators and maintenance personnel to fully understand the equipment and the risks the machinery carries. On the flip side, it is also necessary to educate the AS/RS vendor’s subcontractors on internal safety rules and regulations so that they, too, comply with the company’s own policies. Everyone who works with these machines must know how to do so safely. Plus, the organization will avoid accidents that could potentially cause damaging litigations.

Perform Daily Inspections: Inspecting machinery is a daily obligation. No matter how many hours machines are running, spending time each day checking the equipment is a must. Operators must listen to it run. If something sounds even the slightest bit out of the ordinary, it is time to take a closer look. This is why it is important for companies to get to know their AS/RS and how it operates from day one – if an issue arises, it will be easier to quickly take action.

Set up Maintenance Schedules: In addition to daily inspections, companies should set up their own AS/RS inspection schedule – whether weekly, monthly, or yearly, depending on the specific system’s needs. Knowing exactly when a particular part needs replacing or when a chain needs lubricating will keep the organization and its equipment ahead of the game. Sticking to a schedule and keeping records of each maintenance measure performed will certainly pay off.

Prepare for Corrective Maintenance: Let’s go back to the car example. No matter how conscientiously you service your car, there are some things that you can’t predict, like a flat tire. With any type of machine, there is going to be the occasional unforeseeable issue. While it is hard to prevent these incidents, it is possible to prepare. Having access to spare parts (especially for critical wear items) and technical resources, as well as understanding the right procedures, can help companies take corrective action and minimize downtime when an unexpected issue surfaces.

Investigate Maintenance Programs: Companies should investigate what their AS/RS vendor has to offer in terms of assisting in servicing and maintaining the system. It is a good idea to take advantage of any available inspection packages, 24/7 technical support, preventative maintenance scheduling, and other services to extend the life of the system and keep workers safe. Although these offerings will take some weight off the company’s shoulders, they do not replace the responsibility to perform daily inspections or to enforce and reinforce all personnel’s deep understanding of your system.

While preventative maintenance may not keep a car out of the junkyard 25 years from now, it can keep an AS/RS up and running for more than two decades. Remember that the safety and operational efficiencies of an AS/RS is fueled by proactive, rather than reactive, efforts. As a result of the right blend of preventative measures and training, an AS/RS will continue to run well into the future just as smoothly as it did at first installation.



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