What is a storage stacker crane? 

How the warehouse stacker crane works

A device that automatically places and retrieves goods from racks, pallets, containers or bins. Thanks to a microprocessor designed to receive and process commands from a special WMS for warehouse management. The device operates on its own, without the need for assistance or supervision. Stacker cranes are an extremely popular solution for warehouse work. They increase productivity.  

The task of the depot is to pick up the product, transport it and put it down on the corresponding shelf of the rack in the designated location and vice versa. The two operations, which are performed alternately, are a combined cycle - putting down one pallet and picking up another within the same course.  

Forklift trucks have ceased to prove themselves as equipment that is overloaded, bulky and needs a driver. The warehouse stacker crane operates entirely on its own, needing no operator.  

How does the warehouse stacker crane work?  

The stacker cranes are mounted on rails and also move on them. They have a special system that helps them handle loads and manipulate the pallets on the racks. There are three types of operation, and choosing the right one depends on the needs of the facility.  

  1. Automatic mode - the most common operating mode of the stacker crane, it is used most often. In this mode, the storage and retrieval of goods is carried out autonomously, the machine has no driver as the movement is controlled by a PLC mechanism. Task information is transmitted thanks to a special warehouse control system.  
  1. Semi-automatic mode - The PLC mechanism replaces the computer at one end of the aisle, from which the operator can send the stacker crane commands. Each movement is assigned coordinates, which must be entered into the computer  
  1. Manual mode - is used most often in cases of maintenance and repair operations. In this mode, the operator is indispensable - he has to control the machine from the cab and uses manual mechanisms to do so.  

Advantages and disadvantages of stacker cranes


  • Space optimisation - thanks to the high density of storage, both in terms of area and height, and the possibility of narrowing the corridors. 
  • High load availability - depots have easy and direct access to all stored loads. Pallet receipts and releases take place within two types of cycle: 

- single (acceptance or release of products only), 
- combined (simultaneous receipt and dispensing of products). 

  • Permanent inventory - in an automated facility that is operated by a depot; a warehouse management system is needed to exercise precise control over the pallets. Thanks to a continuous inventory, the location of all items is known at all times.  
  • Total cargo security - The handling of loads takes place automatically, without operator intervention, making it much easier to avoid accidents and damage to goods. 
  • Availability and performance - The system can operate around the clock without interruption. This makes it the perfect solution for companies with high workloads and the mass nature of order picking. 


  • Initial investment - Such warehouse automation requires a greater input at the start than a simple manually operated warehouse. Nonetheless, it provides a quick payback, with logistical costs decreasing over time.  
  • Only one corridor - For maximum efficiency, one stacker crane should be used per aisle, which significantly increases costs.  
  • Dependency - The automated warehouse must be equipped with other systems, such as conveyors, from which the stacker crane retrieves the load and also deposits it.  

Why install a warehouse stacker crane?  

why install a warehouse stacker crane

If we want to automate all kinds of logistics facilities, these can be simple

warehouses, but even new logistics centres, then automation is very useful. Also, if the company aims to increase the efficiency of its warehouses, improve service levels and strengthen the security of goods and operators.  

Automation is recommended when a company has a wide variety of goods with medium to high turnover, as well as to increase the number of receipts, releases or a combination of these. They are also not afraid of low temperatures, and can operate continuously down to -30 degrees.