What is a zone in a warehouse layout?
Every warehouse has its layout. The definition of its layout is one of the first things a logistics manager has to deal with when moving its operation to a new warehouse.
Within a warehouse, there are specific spaces/areas to which are allocated different processes, types of products, types of storage or packaging, etc. Those different spaces/areas are called Zones.
Plus, a Zone classifies a set of locations that share common properties. Inventory for a SKU is either stocked in a specific zone or in multiple zones and locations.
For example, case storage and unit storage make separate Zones. Certain medicines or food related products, need to be stored under controlled temperature, meaning that have to be stored in a refrigerator – Refrigerated Zone.
Why shall a warehouse have multiple zones?
Every warehouse needs to be organized. A good organization of a warehouse is crucial to efficiency. Sometimes, it is even an obligation due to regulation restrictions. There may be several different zones in a warehouse. Some are enumerated below:
A business may use items that need to be kept at a certain temperature such as food items or certain chemicals or medicines. Many businesses have multi-temperature warehouses with both ambient and refrigerated zoned areas.
These refrigerated zones usually keep items at 38 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (3 to 10 degrees Celsius). Some warehouses need to keep items frozen and these zones will have temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius below zero). These zones will only store the materials that have these requirements.
Dry Storage Zone
Dry storage is a common zone in a warehouse. Many items need to be kept away from moisture and a dedicated dry zone can be used. Most warehouses that operate a dry storage zone do so to keep items between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 21 degrees Celsius).
If temperatures in the dry storage area exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), there is the possibility of increased insect activity as well as damage to items such as canned food items and items affected by humidity. To keep the dry storage area less than 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) a warehouse would need to use air conditioning. In warehouses located in colder areas, the temperature in the dry storage area can fall significantly and require heating to keep items from freezing.
Oversize Storage Zone
In certain activities there are some products that need more space because they will not fit on normal shelves. For that products having a different zone is useful.
Hazardous Material Zone
Several items that have chemicals or some other dangerous materials in their composition, usually require specific skills or authorized personnel to handle them. Therefore, a specific zone shall be created – and sometimes with physical barriers, like a grid and a padlock.
A quality zone is commonly used for products that are non-conforming. The reason why a product is considered to be non-conforming varies. It may be because of physical issues (the product is broken), commercial issues (the quantity recieved does not match the invoice/delivery note), or other (the product does not match regulatory requirements).
How does LogisticsWMS work with zones?
Logistics WMS is prepared to deal with as many zones as a business needs. There are no restrictions related to the number of zones in the system. A zone has to be under a warehouse and has to belong to a certain type: loading/unloading, reception, quality (if so, it must indicate the kind of quality it refers to), picking, packing, dispatch. Below each zone it can be added another zone(s) or physical locations.
When designing a warehouse layout it must be taken into consideration that a Zone defines/is defined by constraints for/from a process (ie, putaway, retrieval, picking, packing, loading, unloading, etc). Therefore, the person responsible for the design should analyze (among others): the activity volume, types of products, product rotation, business/regulatory requirements and safety.