Vertical carousels, storage carousels, vertical
rotating shelves, vertical lift modules – what’s the
If you have been in the material handling business for a while, you may know the term “vertical
carousel.” People might have described it to you as a storage carousel or a vertical rotating shelf
system – to distinguish it from a horizontal carousel. One moves up and down, and the other
But what about a vertical lift module? Is that the
same thing as a vertical carousel?
No, a vertical lift module does not simply have the same function of automating storage by going
up rather than sideways – it represents a more advanced application. This application is logical
when a storage facility has high ceilings, which are typically above 3 meters.
The vertical height is not well-handled by traditional storage systems. In such systems, either the
shelves are low enough for operators to retrieve items from the floor or they require ladders or
lift trucks to reach the higher parts. Either way, the process is cumbersome and potentially
An automated storage system that is taller than it is wide can optimize the use of the high ceiling
while minimizing floor space requirements. However, it is important to note that there are
significant differences in how a vertical carousel works compared to a vertical lift module (VLM),
which is commonly abbreviated as VLM.
Why do people still call vertical lift modules vertical
When a device is the first of its type, it often comes to represent the entire category, even if the
technology differs. For example, people continued to use the term “taping” long after digital
devices replaced those that used tape to record audio or video. The same can be said for “vertical
carousels,” which were introduced in the 1950s and sold widely. Although vertical lift modules
were introduced later, the term “vertical carousel” had already become fixed in the minds of
The differences between a vertical lift module and a
vertical carousel are significant:
• A vertical carousel rotates parts on trays attached to a chain. It carries items of similar size and
weight, much like a Ferris wheel. Conversely, a vertical lift module uses independently moving
trays, similar to a vending machine.
• Vertical carousels require balance to ensure weight is evenly distributed among trays, while
vertical lift modules do not. This feature enables vertical lift modules to retrieve items more
• Vertical carousels have non-adjustable shelves that waste space when small and large items are
stored together. Vertical lift modules can have trays of varying heights, making them more
• Due to balance issues, vertical carousels are limited to a height of approximately 7 meters. In
contrast, vertical lift modules can reach heights of up to 16 meters or more.
• The entire set of shelves in a vertical carousel must move, whereas a vertical lift module does
not have this limitation, resulting in higher efficiency and productivity.
Although vertical carousels are still manufactured, they are considered outdated technology.
While they represent an advance over traditional storage systems, their day has largely come and
If you require an automated storage system, consider a vertical lift module for high ceilings or a
horizontal carousel for lower ceilings. Modula offers a full range of vertical lift modules as well as
one of the most advanced horizontal carousels available.
Contact us for more information on finding the right storage solution for your operation. We
provide numerous options that can help you achieve all the benefits of a vertical storage solution.