I am wondering if anyone has a good idea for a theoretical problem. Let's assume I have 3000 different designs printed on paper. I have about 100 pieces of each design. Each design is not a regular print you could print with a laser printer or inkjet printer. Every design is stored in a little shelf so we have 3000 shelves with each 100 paper sheets in it. Each day we have to pick designs from different shelves. We run from shelf 150 to 356 and then to 788 (just an example). This task uses a lot of time so I was wondering if there might be a clever possibility to automate it.

My thoughts so far: I use a linear system with 3 axis. A little mount with suction pads grabs the paper sheet from the shelves and dispenses it to a certain place.

Maybe this is not clever, maybe there is a better solution.

I appreciate your ideas and thoughts on this issue.



  • \$\begingroup\$ Just drop them on a running belt from the sides.. \$\endgroup\$ – Eugene Sh. Nov 25 '15 at 18:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you have 100 sheets in a stack and you want to dispense one, you might look at how a printer picks up clean paper. Then multiply that mechanism by 3000 or adapt it to be attached to any bin as needed. \$\endgroup\$ – AaronD Nov 25 '15 at 18:03
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I used to work for Rank Xerox and Xerox Research (UK), and paper is very difficult stuff to pick up and move around. \$\endgroup\$ – Leon Heller Nov 25 '15 at 18:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ Look at paper handling mechanisms in actual use in printers and scanners, and add a success/failure detect. Or, see if you can get the material supplied as a continuous role and have some mechanism to cut it as needed. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Nov 26 '15 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually I think I cannot use a printer mechanism as the sheets are printed and therefore are sensitive as the sheets cannot rub on each other. Picking up by a suction pad would cause no harm at all, though. \$\endgroup\$ – user2132799 Nov 26 '15 at 9:12

Amazon has had very good success implementing physical memory caching algorithms in their warehouses. An operating system can map commonly accessed data in fast to access locations(near the centre of the platter) and near each other to reduce travel time. Amazon found that sorting their warehouses so that commonly access items are closer and near each other has a significant increase in efficiency.

You could organize your stock in such a way. This optimization is difficult to apply after the fact, it is primarily based on where you choose to store things.

While this is not "automation" it is an optimization that might help. I think you will find actual mechanical handling of paper from shelves unrealistic cost wise unless you have a massive scale to justify it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ In fact we would have a massive win-situation by dispensing the sheets automatically. The problem ist not the time for the single sheet but the fact that each sheet has to be picked manually. \$\endgroup\$ – user2132799 Nov 26 '15 at 12:07

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.