February, 2001 - Keystone Systems, Inc. is proud to announce that it has successfully integrated its KLAS (Keystone Library Automation System) software with a state-of-the-art computer-controlled warehouse storage and retrieval system manufactured by Diamond Phoenix. The KLAS Carousel Storage interface allows quick, easy and accurate pulling of materials for library patrons. It also speeds the return to storage when items are checked back in. The first library to implement this interface was the New Mexico Talking Book Library in Santa Fe, NM.
System Pays for Itself Initially and Repeatedly
The Library recently moved into a space located in the newly constructed New Mexico Library, Archives and Records Center in Santa Fe. The library chose to use the carousel system to reduce storage space requirements in the new facility. "The efficiency of space utilization in the carousels allowed for substantial savings in construction costs," states Acting Director Jerry Packard. The Talking Book Library now has double the storage capacity for its collection in half the square footage of what they had before the move. This is due to the greater density of materials storage provided by the carousels over conventional library compact shelving. Reduced construction costs more than paid for the system, and increased operating efficiency was an added bonus. With the new KLAS interface, the Library estimates picking and check-out operations have seen a 60% improvement in efficiency, trimming the process from five to two hours. There has been a 65% improvement in check-in and re-shelving operations that now take less than an hour and are done with three steps instead of the eight steps required before.
The KLAS System in New Mexico
Using the carousel system and KLAS, the New Mexico Talking Book Library currently manages 44,000 titles and 285,000 copies of books on recorded cassettes. The Library circulates 125,000 items annually to 4,500 patrons throughout the state using the US Postal Service. The Library uses KLAS software to manage the selection of materials for readers according to their stated interests and preferences. KLAS also tracks the precise location of each of the items, which are stored randomly in the carousel system in individual plastic shipping cases.
The Carousel System in New Mexico
The materials handling system at the New Mexico Talking Book Library consists of four carousels each ninety feet long and twelve feet high. Each carousel has a capacity for storing 100,000 talking books in individual shipping cases. The essence of the integration task is to sort requests for the items to be pulled from the carousel each day into the sequence where they can be retrieved most efficiently. Then, while automatically positioning the carousel to the item to be picked, print out the mailing card to be attached to the shipping case. When items are returned to the carousel, they are stored in any available space and KLAS reads the specific location into the database.
Each night, KLAS automatically prepares a list of book selections to be sent to patrons based on patron profiles containing the patron's service needs, reading interests and reading history. Special requests phoned in from the patrons or selected by reader advisors using the KLAS assisted searching are also added to the batch. When the library staff is ready for the daily picking, the batch of selected records is sorted into the order for most efficient picking. During the picking and checkout process, the system allows one staff member to pick items from two carousels at a time. The NM Library has two workstations side by side; thus 2 staff members can pick books from 4 carousels at the same time. KLAS coordinates printing the mailing cards for the selected books in accord with the moves of the carousels. While one book is retrieved, mailing card inserted and posted, KLAS commands the second carousel to move to the appropriate position for the next book. The carousels have light trees that flash to show the operator the location of the book to be picked.
Worker Comfort and Economy of Motion
Since the book locations are stored in the KLAS database, the system can plan the movements of the carousel to retrieve the books in the most efficient manner. One of the outstanding features is that KLAS allows the library to define shelves into separate zones according to height from the floor. The picking station is on a hydraulically moved platform to raise and lower the picker to the correct level for picking over the range from the floor to the top shelf twelve feet up. Frequently circulated books are stored in the optimum height shelves in the area called "the Golden Zone". The higher shelves and the lower shelves are designated as separate zones to store less popular books. To maximize efficiency and worker comfort, KLAS sorts the batch to be picked into sequences through the zones. This minimizes long reaches by the pickers and reduces the time spent raising and lowering the platform.
Appropriate to Other Settings
KLAS can scale to meet any size requirement and is flexible in modes of operation. Keystone has customers over ten times the size of the New Mexico Talking Book Library, circulating millions of items. The New Mexico Library chose to operate in copy specific mode with each copy of the title having a unique bar code label. However, many libraries using KLAS chose to operate as non-specific with regard to copy with substantial savings in cost of materials and staff time. Other examples of the flexibility include:
- real-time, on-demand retrieval as well as batch run;
- sending from an inventory of consumables that are not expected to be returned;
- customer order fulfillment from an inventory of a large number of items whether or not it is important to know precisely which unit is sent to the customer;
- and customer self-service through the on-line catalogue.
Keystone Systems, Inc. is an eighteen year-old company based in Raleigh, North Carolina. Through extensive research and consultation, Keystone developers have created a powerful, yet elegant library automation system, which has the flexibility to meet specific needs of special, academic, and public libraries. Keystone's staff takes pride in assisting customers to obtain and fully utilize the best computer systems available. For more information about Keystone Systems or our KLAS products, visit our web site at www.klas.com.