Mini Load AS/RS System

Fast and Accurate Picking

AS/RS Systems, Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems, are computer-controlled systems for storing and retrieving products in a warehouse or distribution center. AS/RS Systems require virtually no manual labor and are engineered to be completely automated.

Mini-Load AS/RS systems are smaller systems and typically allow selection of items in totes, trays, or cartons. Other terms used to describe a Mini-Load AS/RS system is “case-handling machine” or “tote stacker.”

AS/RS systems are configured with pallet rack laid out with narrow aisles between them. Sometimes there is a raised metal rail down the center and a tall mast travels through the aisle along the rail. When the mast reaches the storage location, an AS/RS carriage travels up the mast to the picking spot. An automatic mechanism then reaches into the storage location to retrieve or return the load.

The AS/RS system can be configured many different ways, but typically a smaller system will not use shuttles to pick and retrieve loads. Instead, they use extractors that grasp handles on metal trays with robotic arms or vacuums.

Mini-Load systems are usually no higher than forty feet. UNARCO’s time-tested engineering can design a system to meet building codes and withstand the tight tolerances required, no matter the application.

Mini-Load AS/RS are for smaller items—such as documents, books, or small parts—and order fulfillment. UNARCO has installed systems for newspapers and the record storage industry as well as smaller systems in freezers for the food industry. Mini-Load systems are tailored to a customer’s product and specially engineered. Larger product requires a Unit Load AS/RS System.


Mini-Load Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems provide the most efficient placement and retrieval for containers, cases, trays, and bins. Inventory moves at high speeds through order picking operations.  Mini-Load stacker cranes handle throughput for high-volume material flow.

System Highlights:

Mini-Load Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems allow more room for storage and less room for aisles and wasted space in the following applications:

  • Small parts storage

  • WIP and JIT delivery

  • Manufacturing and distribution operations

  • Automated case order fulfillment

  • Dynamic pick face replenishment

Rapid access and high-speed rates allow warehouses to load up to 6x faster than static racking systems. Technology and software control the systems and allow for unattended operation. Slow-moving inventory can stay put in a Mini-Load AS/RS application and not have to be moved around to make way for new SKUs or handled multiple times because it is in the way.

For more photos of AS/RS systems, view the UNARCO AS/RS Photo Gallery.

High-Density Storage

The benefits of a fixed aisle AS/RS system include the minimized amount of space required and the reduced labor needed to store and retrieve materials. With proper UNARCO engineering, warehouse productivity can be increased substantially. They can also be adapted for use in freezers and other harsh environments that can create hazardous conditions for workers. Due to the computer technology involved, AS/RS can create a very accurate form of inventory control.

Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems use computer controlled systems to pick instead of manual labor. Mini-Load systems are for small loads. (illustration reprinted from MMH Magazine)

FAS – Fixed Aisle System

VLM – Vertical Lift Modules

VNA – Very Narrow Aisle Applications

To find out more on how an AS/RS system works view How AS/RS Works or Is AS/RS right for me? or view photos at the UNARCO AS/RS Systems Photo Gallery.

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