Shuttle-based compact systems are new automated multideep unit-load storage systems with lifts that can potentially achieve both low operational cost and large volume flexibility. In this paper, we develop novel queuing network models to estimate the performance of both single-tier and multitier shuttle-based compact systems. Each tier is modeled as a multiclass semi-open queuing network, whereas the vertical transfer is modeled using an open queue. For a multitier system, the models corresponding to tiers and vertical transfer are linked together using the first and second moment information of the queue departure processes. The models can handle both specialized and generic shuttles and both continuous and discrete lifts. The accuracy of the models is validated through both simulation and a real case. Errors are acceptable for conceptualizing initial designs. Numerical studies provide new design insights. Results show that the best way to minimize expected throughput time in single-tier systems is to have a depth/width ratio around 1.25. Moreover, specialized shuttles are recommended for multitier systems because the higher cost of generic shuttles is not balanced by savings in reduced throughput time and equipment needs.

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Keywords Compact storage systems, Semi-open queuing networks, Warehouse design trade-offs
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Transportation Science
Note The online appendix is available at
Tappia, E, Roy, D, de Koster, M.B.M, & Melacini, M. (2017). Modeling, analysis, and design insights for shuttle-based compact storage systems. Transportation Science, 51(1), 269–295. doi:10.1287/trsc.2016.0699