Automated Storage System for bars and plates
Inside sheet metal storage systems: trays, stations and control systems
A storage system is a complex unit, the individual parts of which must work together to meet the specific needs of a company

A storage system is a complex unit, the individual parts of which must work together to meet the specific needs of a company. We have already talked about the mainfeatures of automatic storage systems for sheet metal and how important it is that they satisfy certain requirements in terms of safety, space optimization, integration with the production line, precision and flexibility of storage and handling operations. For this to happen, when planning a storage system attention must also be paid to its individual components, that is: trays, stations, control system, management software, interfaces. 

Trays in sheet metal storage systems
Regardless of the type of storage system, sheets are moved using trays, on which they are  placed directly, or pallets, on which they have been previously stacked. In all its solutions, the Wipro Ferretto supplies customized tray systems based on the customer's needs.
In general, however, there are three types of trays:
Raw material traysare made with long pipes welded to the sides designed to rest on the  shelving. The number of pipes varies according to the width of the load. The trays for dragging systems are also set up for the attachment of the gripping system. The trays are also equipped with slides protected with high-strength polyethylene (polizene) to minimize friction between shelf and tray. In the case of compact storage systems with a lift module, the tray has perimeter pegs designed to contain the sheets.
Trays for semi-finished materialare equipped with appropriately shaped and perforated surface plates which allow the material to be positioned without the risk of parts falling from it. This horizontal cover can be conveniently drilled to allow the elimination of residual particles resulting from the processing cycles.
Finally,pallet traysare specially designed to house pallets carrying the material to be stored.


A station is a set of systems which, managed and controlled directly by the automatic storage system, allows the material to be loaded and unloaded in a completely autonomous way, if necessary sending it directly to the pick-up points of the sheet metal processing machines located downstream of the storage system.
Also in this case the proposed solutions are different, so as to meet customer needs:

  • raw material feeding stations using a shuttle or table shuttle, both equipped with vertical support rods;
  • raw/semi-finished/finished material exchange stations connected with the outside by means of a shuttle, table shuttle or chain conveyors;
  • raw/semi-finished/finished material rapid exchange stations connected with the outside by means of a lift and a shuttle.

Stations with shuttles can have two operating modes:

  • semi-automatic mode, which requires the shuttle movement to be actioned from outside the safety area of the storage system;
  • automatic mode, which manages the shuttle movement in a completely autonomous way.

Stations can also be equipped with a pallet-pack decoupler, a bar code reader and an auxiliary WMS console.



The term "interfaces" means all the mechanical and electrical configurations of the automatic storage systems that allow the exchange of material with external machines or processing lines interacting directly with the storage system. This exchange can take place through the picking and placing of the tray inside the storage system or through the direct removal of the material (typically a single sheet), which is performed without moving the tray. There are therefore interfaces with single sheet handling systems and interfaces with systems interconnected with external shuttles, with shuttles with a lifting table and with chain conveyors. For each interface a remote control can be provided locally to collect logic and safety signals from and towards external systems.

The control system
The storage system is operated by a control system that performs various functions. More specifically, this system manages the operating logic and the safety devices of the storage system, as well as the interface with external systems and the exchange of information with the WMS software.
The control system can also be accessed remotely via TeamViewer. An added value that enables:

  • real time checks of the operating condition of the system and of the individual components, especially of all the electronic components involved in the safety device control and management chain;
  • operators to be supported in resolving anomalous situations or stoppages;
  • an initial analysis to be performed in the case of failure or shutdown of the system;
  • the workload of the system to be monitored.

The WMS software
More articulated and complex automatic storage systems for sheets, bars and plates are also equipped with supervision software. Thismakes it possible to identify the material entering the system, manage storage operations, extract material through individual calls or picking lists, and provide the operator with information on the system status and alarms. If required, the software can communicate with the company’s ERP for the execution of production lists.

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