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

moves sideways.

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


VLM vs Carousel

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.