Your browser is out of date, for the best web viewing experience visit Browse Happy to upgrade your browser today.

Very Narrow Aisles (VNAs)
Cycle Counting

The Answer to Automated Cycle Counting for Warehouses
with Very Narrow Aisles

Very Narrow Aisles (VNAs) have become a prevalent warehouse design strategy for maximizing storage capacity and efficiency. VNAs refer to aisles that are significantly narrower than traditional warehouse aisles, often just wide enough to support the width of a typical  wire-guided order picker/ turret truck(42-48”).  By narrowing the aisles, more shelf space becomes available for storing goods vertically. This vertical storage maximization is particularly beneficial for warehouses with limited floor space.  While this approach helps expand storage space for a warehouse it also presents a challenge when it comes to cycle counting due to not just limited space constraints, but also the increased cubic density of storage, which requires additional manpower.

Very narrow aisle cycle counting can be a challenge for some automated solutions
Narrow warehouse aisles help improve warehouse utilization but presents challenges in cycle count automation

The improved space utilization of VNA comes with a cost and often that includes limited space to support cycle counting automation techniques, including:

  • Warehouse Drones – while warehouse drones come with promises for automation and efficiency benefits, their use is limited in VNAs due to the narrow spaces that restrict their maneuverability and pose a safety concern. On top of that, drones need to maintain a distance from the racking so that they can capture the full pallet location in one frame, however this is not possible in VNAs that are themselves 5ft wide as the drone gets too close to the other side of the aisle. High density case storage locations in VNAs make it even more challenging for drones as the case labels are more difficult to read and the drone must make exponentially higher number of stops to capture everything in a shelf in a short flight time. Before considering a drone for VNA cycle counting, talk to a drone provider first so they can explain the limitations (read this post to learn more about the challenges of warehouse drones).
  • Manned Order Picker/Cherry Pickers – Warehouses commonly conduct cycle-counting using handheld RF scanners. This poses a safety risk as an operator has to scan boxes 30 feet high up on a cherry picker and lean into the racking to scan boxes. Warehouse associates are sometimes pushed to meet their aggressive cycle counting goals and may employ some risky techniques to reach out and scan as many items in one stop.  Additionally, this form of cycle counting is very slow needing warehouses to hire a team of cycle counters and train them in this high-churn job.   

Safe and Fast VNA Cycle Counting

StorTRACK is the width of a standard pallet allowing for effective navigation of very narrow aisles

When the Vimaan engineers designed StorTRACK, they did so with many warehouse scenarios in mind, including VNA cycle counting.  StorTRACK is a mobile sled designed in the shape of a pallet, such that any existing MHE that can lift a pallet can lift StorTRACK.  When it comes time to cycle count, the MHE operator simply retrieves StorTRACK from its base station and carries the system like a pallet to the counting destinations including VNAs. 

StorTRACK is even narrower than a pallet, allowing it to operate in the narrowest of aisle environments.  Equipped with 4 cameras and embedded lighting, StorTRACK can capture the entire contents of a pallet in just one pass, even for high density storage.  It does not matter how many items are stored on a shelf, StorTRACK will scan 50 items as fast it scans one! Challenges with VNA cycle count automation are no longer an issue if your warehouse is equipped with StorTRACK.

Warehouses with very narrow aisles also need to consider the material handling equipment they use in tight environments. These warehouses typically use turret trucks and side loaders to support pallet placement and retrieval. StorTRACK is versatile enough to accommodate these fork configurations, ensuring full inventory scanning coverage.

In addition to providing optimum cycle counting for very narrow aisles, StorTRACK is equally beneficial in aisles of normal width.  StorTRACK is so fast that it can scan a 30’ high x 300’ long rack in 45 minutes. 

Computer Vision Enabled Cycle Counting

Cycle counting is a critical process for all warehouses, but it’s extremely time-consuming and often results in shutting down aisles or complete areas of warehouses, interfering with picking and put-away events.  Even with regimented cycle counting, warehouses and 3PLs still achieve sub-par inventory accuracy levels. Automating cycle count mission helps improve inventory accuracy and reduces labor requirements.

Automating inventory cycle counting

wAReHOUSE Cycle count automation guide

Learn how other warehouses have improved their inventory accuracies to over 99%, while reducing cycle count headcount.


Very Narrow Aisle Cycle Counting Resources

Ready to learn more?