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Development of Mass Dampers for Automated Warehouses

—Reduces shifting of goods during earthquakes, contributing to business continuity. Can be installed while the warehouse is in operation—

July 4, 2013Takenaka Corporation

Takenaka Corporation (President: Masahiro Miyashita) has developed a mass damper made especially for automated warehouses(※1) (Patent pending). The mass damper is a compact vibration control device used to reduce shaking of racks during small-medium to large earthquakes, preventing shifting of goods in automated warehouses.

This device was created by reducing the size of mass dampers that have been used as technology to protect buildings from earthquakes and wind to pallet size, permitting its use in automated warehouses. Mass dampers can be installed on racks easily and quickly, so this can be done with almost no impact on the operation of an existing warehouse.

※1An automated warehouse is a warehouse in which all steps from unloading of goods to storage and inventory management, etc. are controlled by a computer.
Stacked racks are installed, and goods are moved by stacker cranes (automated transport mechanisms) for each pallet under the goods.

Outline of a mass damper

  • Image of installation of mass dampers in an automated warehouse

    Image of installation of mass dampers in an automated warehouse

  • Outline of a mass damper

    Outline of a mass damper

Mechanism

A mass damper is a vibration control device equipped with a mass (weight) that shakes horizontally above a pallet-size(※1) frame. Even when the rack shakes during an earthquake, the mass tends to remain stationary, reducing the shaking of the rack.

※2Generally 1.1m2, but can be applied to other sizes.

Installation method

Spaces originally intended to hold goods at the top of automated warehouse racks are used to install mass dampers the same way as goods are stored, and then they are anchored to the racks with specially made attachment hardware. The mass dampers are pallet size, so they can be quickly installed using the automated warehouse’s stacker cranes (automatic transport mechanisms). This improvement can be made in an existing warehouse while it is in operation.

Special features

  • This newly developed mass damper consists of high-performance industrial use rails and a compact oil damper. It is maintenance-free and highly reliable, even under severe shaking during an earthquake.
  • The more mass dampers installed, the better their vibration resistance effects, so users can take measures matched to their budgets. Their effectiveness is improved if, at the same time, fall prevention stoppers are installed or the stacked goods are wrapped in film. Takenaka will propose the goods shifting countermeasure most appropriate to the form and size of each customer’s warehouses.
  • They can be installed easily in both existing and new warehouses.

Background to the Development

The Great East Japan Earthquake shut down warehouse functions at various locations by causing goods to fall from racks in automated warehouses, blocking crane passageways and damaging electrical systems. In some cases, it required several months to manually remove these fallen goods to restore the warehouses to normal, making it difficult for their owners to continue their business operations.

In pharmaceutical product warehouses in particular, not only were their valuable contents damaged, the supply of pharmaceuticals was halted, severely impacting society. So measures to prevent the shifting of goods must be introduced quickly to support business continuity planning (BCP). This development was carried out to meet this need.