IFOY Test Report: Volume DIVE

Our penultimate look at all the finalists ahead of the IFOY Awards ceremony in Dortmund on Thursday June 22nd brings the DIVE storage and packing system from Volume Lagersysteme GmbH under the microscope.

Volume DIVE is a patented robotics-based storage and picking system for standard Euro bins and beverage crates, developed for quick commerce. The throughput can be flexibly scaled up to 4,000 bins/h. Instead of long restacking, they can be accessed quickly. Lifters are not required, as the robots can place the bins directly on the floor. In the smallest version, Volume DIVE takes up only 16 sq m. The individual modules fit through any normal store door.

IFOY category: Intralogistics Robot

IFOY Test Report

Volume DIVE is a newly developed storage and picking system for urban retail and delivery services. Despite its compactness, fast access to each container is possible with minimal restacking. This creates the conditions for a throughput of up to 4,000 totes per hour. This makes the development suitable for quick-commerce applications, but also an alternative for e-commerce and classic miniload applications. The system consists of the mobile robot (Snapper), the rack (Speedrack) and the load carriers (standard euro containers or beverage crates).

The Speedrack is made up of several modules of 48 small containers each and can be extended as required. Heights of up to 14m are possible. Fire protection can be ensured by sprinklers on the moving levels. Levelling via adjustable feet allows the system to be erected on any floor. The lithium-ion Snapper, the battery supplied with power without contact at charging stations, travels at up to 3m/s and can store and retrieve containers across the entire level. With the aid of a 360° rotating gripper unit, the robot can pick up or deliver totes with or without recessed grips on all four sides, at any position including the floor. Due to the stacking height of three load carriers, stock is only transferred once on average.

Standard beverage crates and euro containers in sizes 300×200, 400x300mm (weight: up to 25kg) and 600x400mm (weight: up to 35kg) can be used as load carriers. Containers of different heights can be stocked within a tower, as can loading aids already available to the operator. There are no restrictions due to picking ports, as containers can be loaded and unloaded at any balcony position in the warehouse. Transfer to conveyor systems is possible, but not necessary. Volume DIVE can be used as a small parts storage and picking system for slow-moving C-items up to the handling of A-items. This makes the new development an alternative to miniloads with stacker cranes or shuttles. The integration into containers enables further applications.

An extension in length, width and height can be realized. The performance can be scaled by the number of snappers. Due to the access times, Volume DIVE is the suitable storage system when a C-item seasonally becomes an A-item. The setup is simple. The material can be brought in through normal doors, so Volume DIVE can be used in existing retail stores, for example. Due to the start-up on a weekend, for example, the future operator is not impaired in his regular operations.

IFOY test verdict: Volume DIVE is a patented robotics-based storage and picking system for standard euro containers and beverage crates. Throughput can be scaled up to 4,000 totes per hour. Three totes are stacked on top of each other on one shelf level. This eliminates time-consuming restacking of the totes. Lifters are not required, as the robots can place the totes directly on the floor. In the smallest version, Volume DIVE occupies an area of just 16 sq m. The modules fit through any normal store door. Existing standard containers can be used and are allowed to leave the system.

IFOY Innovation Check

Market relevance: Volume DIVE can come up with an extraordinary range of application areas. In addition to the typical applications in retail and production, it can also be used as a micro-hub in urban areas or nano-storage in boutiques, as a container-based material store on construction sites or as a refrigerated beverage storage facility, as well as a module for sorting empty goods. The scalability, flexibility and modularity, from the smallest warehouse with a footprint of 16 sq m to large warehouses, from room heights up to 14m, as well as the extremely short assembly time, leads to expect a high market relevance. Initial customer solutions have been reported with an ROI of less than one year.

Customer benefit: Due to its modular design, the system can offer maximum flexibility and scalability, both in terms of size and shape of the warehouse and in terms of performance characteristics. Unlike the market leader in compact vertical storage systems, AutoStore, Volume DIVE operates with picking robots on different levels, allowing both short access times of up to six seconds and high throughputs of up to 6,000 accesses per hour simultaneously. The pick robots themselves are said to be less expensive than AutoStore. Volume DIVE can be operated with any standard Euro containers of various heights and even beverage crates, which can also be used outside the system. Set-up time is extremely short, at one weekend, and add-ons can be made on the fly.

Novelty / Innovation: Despite similarities to well-known vertical storage systems, significant innovations have been implemented in terms of technology and process design. The pick robots have a 360° swivelling gripper with universal gripping fingers for standard Euro containers and beverage crates weighing up to 35kg, which can be placed anywhere around the warehouse system or transferred to conveyor systems or AGVs. The extreme modularity enables fast commissioning, any warehouse geometry with heights up to 14m, and scalable performance values depending on the number of robots. Sprinkler systems can be installed in every intermediate level, which is impossible with comparable vertical storage systems.

Functionality / Type of implementation: The technical implementation is of high quality and yet cost-effective. The very reliable and universal gripping mechanism, which could be tested with different containers, is to be emphasised. The robots are said to be able to act very quickly at up to 3m/s and can also be used down to -20°C in the freezer range. However, the rotating wheels of the undercarriage could be aware factor and affect the robustness. The system only requires a 230V electric power.

Verdict: Volume DIVE is a very versatile, flexible, and highly scalable automatic small parts storage solution. The very fast access times, the use of a wide variety of standard containers and beverage crates, the flexible placement and pick-up of containers around the entire system, the modular design and the quick and easy start-up over the weekend make the system suitable for an exceptionally wide range of applications.

Market relevance ++
Customer benefit ++
Novelty / Innovation +
Functionality / Type of implementation ++
[KEY: ++ very good / + good / Ø balanced / – less / — not available]

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