Home > Dematic helps Macquarie University launch Australia’s first ARC for books

Dematic helps Macquarie University launch Australia’s first ARC for books

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article image The ARC at the Macquarie University library
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Global provider of intelligent logistics and materials handling solutions, Dematic has implemented an Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) at the Macquarie University library in Sydney.  

The $97 million project incorporates a host of architectural and technology initiatives including the ARC (Automated Retrieval Collection) designed with a capacity to store up to 1.8 million books in less than a seventh of the floor space required by conventional shelving. The library can additionally provide hands-on access to up to 500,000 items in higher demand.  

With a total capacity to store up to 2.3 million titles, the University can now house its entire collection at the same place for the first time. The library has a current inventory of 1.3 million books in the ARC, and 400,000 on shelving, enabling it to cope with more titles in the future.   

Automating book storage and handling

Housed within an environmentally controlled 1,000m² vault about four floors high, the ARC stores the books in quantities of up to 100 in steel bins, providing optimum long-term storage conditions. Bins of four different heights are used within the system to accommodate small to large publications.  

The books were cleaned and their details logged in the ARC’s location control system prior to their storage in the bins.  

Integrated by logistics systems supplier Dematic, the ARC uses four stacker cranes to automatically handle the steel bins in and out of their 17,000+ locations at rates of up to 160 per hour.  

When a book is required, the steel bin containing the book is automatically retrieved by one of the four stacker cranes, and delivered to a library staff member within a couple of minutes.  

Delivering a new standard of service

A key advantage of the ARC is the space-efficiency delivered in the new library, which is about the same size as its predecessor, yet provides three times as much study space and associated facilities.  

University Librarian, Maxine Brodie is excited about the improved service they are now able to give their students. Students can now simply browse the library’s online catalogue of titles, both electronic and print. If the item is located in the ARC, an online request is placed by the student and the book will be waiting for them by the time they make their way to the pick-up station.  

Ms Brodie expects the easy access will increase book lending rates over time based on overseas experience with automated library storage and retrieval systems. About 150 retrievals are currently being made from the ARC every day.  

Dematic’s Manager Direct & Wholesale, Darren Rawlinson said that implementing the ASRS at Macquarie University was a pleasant change from working in warehouses and distribution centres.  

Automated storage the future for libraries

Increasingly common in major universities and libraries in the USA and Europe, the use of automated storage and retrieval systems are helping these libraries to deal with problems such as space for storing their huge collections and enabling quick access to the books.  

Maxine Brodie says that more than 25 automated systems are already in operation in major universities and libraries around the world, a trend that will become commonplace just about everywhere.  

The library was officially opened by Chancellor Michael Egan and Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Schwartz recently.

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