How Stacker Cranes Benefit From Absolute Encoders

Posted by Brian Winter | View all of Brian's blogs on Feb 17, 2015 8:07:50 AM



The stacker crane is the heart of an automated warehouse system capable of operating 24 hours per day. Automated stacker crane systems require fewer human operators and are able to create extreme storage density and operate in very narrow aisles. 

Watch this video to understand how a stacker crane moves.

Both incremental and absolute encoders are used in the positioning of stacker cranes. Incremental encoders are used to read the horizontal and vertical positions of stacker cranes. Absolute encoders are commonly installed on the telescopic forks and shuttle cars of stacker cranes. Because they produce a unique value for each angle of the shaft, absolute encoders are more precise than incremental ones. Another benefit of absolute encoders is that they retain the measured value even when the machine is powered down. For more information about how stacker crane manufacturer Interlake Mecalux uses absolute encoders, check this link:

The Challenge

The accurate positioning of a stacker crane is critical to its operation. The crane must be positioned accurately in order to execute the task of automated picking and packing. Stacker cranes must be thoroughly tested for maximum uptime, low maintenance, and extremely high safety standards. The many benefits of an automated stacker crane storage system are dependent on accurate positioning, and this is why absolute encoders are critical to their successful operation.

The Solution: Why Nidec-Avtron Absolute Encoders?

Nidec Avtron offers a full range of absolute encoders with special features to assist stacker crane OEMs and end-users.


For OEMs, the AV6A and the AV6M encoders offer cost-effective and space-saving durable designs. The unique Wiegand wire technology in the AV6M enables multi-turn applications without the use of batteries, glass disks, or plastic gears.  All of the latest field busses are supported, such as SSI, Ethernet, DeviceNet, Profibus, CANOpen, and CANSafe Options.

End users can directly retrofit earlier OEM models with heavy duty units such as the AV30 that will fit the existing flanges with no modifications.




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