Zone Picking Support in the Warehouse Management System

Zone picking is an inventory management strategy now supported in Deacom’s Warehouse Management System.

Process manufacturers often organize their warehouse by zones in order to improve the efficiency of picking for both jobs and sales orders. Though different zones may share a similar location, each zone comprises of a different characteristic: refrigerated, dry, flammable, etc. Most often, designated operators are assigned to manage these zones to ensure efficiency in the picking process.

Efficiencies associated with zone picking include:

  • Travel Time – Workers do not need to travel as far on forklifts or by foot to gather required materials.
  • Stocking Unit Organization – Many manufacturers divide the warehouses into zones by stocking unit. One zone might contain pallets of the material that require forklift access, while another zone of loose cases of the product can be picked by a worker with a handcart. This reduces the possibility of traffic interference.
  • Familiarity – A picker may specialize in their specific zone, rather than having to become familiar with the entire warehouse. This allows for more accurate picking at higher rates of speed.

Deacom’s ERP software supports the implementation of zones as an optional part of the warehouse management system (WMS). Whereas facilities, location types and locations are required to be established within DEACOM, Manufacturers can determine if they will take advantage of zones during the configuration process.

The WMS hierarchy is separated into four distinct categories: Facilities, Zones, Location Types, and Locations. Since zones may span across location types, locations may be assigned directly to zones within the DEACOM software. Additionally, locations can be placed within multiple zones if necessary.

Limiting transactions by zone is done primarily through the WMS as well. This includes the ability to:

  • Assign each user to a particular zone
  • Restrict users to a zone
  • Control whether or not a user can pick without a zone configured

To further provide security and accuracy to the picking process, once a user is assigned to a zone, the lot chooser and the scanning features in the warehouse management system will be restricted to only lots available within the zone. If a user attempts to scan something outside of their zone they will be given an audible warning and a prompt in the application. The warehouse transactions that respect the zone distinction include:

  • Issuing
  • Reserving
  • Shipping
  • Inventory Moves
  • Staging
  • Negative PO Receipts

An additional benefit of establishing zones in DEACOM is that they can help to facilitate the cycle counting process. As the adoption of cycle counting has grown in recent years, many manufacturers are moving to a method of completing inventory counts by location and location type. Zones provide a unique way to group locations that can easily be counted together for cycle counting. Once the zone is established, it can even be utilized to create a physical inventory worksheet.

Whether filling orders or gathering raw materials, the picking process can be a complex for process manufacturers. Its ultimate success depends on a combination of a reliable strategy like zone picking with a strong ERP technology. Many DEACOM customers with such processes have experienced an increase in productivity, accuracy, and efficiencies across warehouses and throughout the overall inventory management.