Zone picking is one of the order picking tools where the warehouse is divided into various zones and products are stocked accordingly. Each zone is assigned a trained employee who picks up the products as per the order only from his/her zone.
The products are at times collected from various zones to add and collate the goods as per the requirement. Products are generally stacked in flow racks or shelves.
The process is generally automated which saves the time spent walking and collecting in huge cartons.
It also helps in collecting goods for several customers in one go which facilitates in saving time and costs for the business.
It helps in efficient inventory management as the numbers of transactions recorded will be less and more clear.
Advantages of zone picking
- As each employee is assigned a single zone they will be familiar with the way goods are stacked. This knowledge will help them pick the goods faster and thus saves the overall time.
- Once the picker collects the goods from the particular zone the carton then travels to the next zone. This process helps to ensure that the aisles are not blocked and the collection process becomes swift. The pickers will actually be so comfortable with their assigned zones that they might re-arrange their zones making them easily accessible.
Disadvantages of zone picking
- There are chances that items might get wrongly picked and since a huge number of pickers are involved it gets difficult in identifying the problem area unless it is brought to the notice of the managers.
- Since pickers have the freedom to re-arrange the zones the structure according to which the business stacks its goods may alter.
- As it is still a manual process it requires time and has its own space for errors. It is also tough to assign an equal amount of work to every picker. The reason being the fact that some zones might have a huge demand while some others might not.
What are the arrangements you need for zone picking?
You need to arrange or organize your warehouse for zone picking. Following are a few tips to organize a warehouse.
Choose an appropriate zone picking system: There are two types of zone picking systems. Sequential and concurrent. In a sequential zone picking an order moves through all the zones.
For example, an order includes 2 timers, 4 tachometers, and 5 energymeters. Then a person need not go through all the zones to pick the items because all these items are stored in specific areas like
- Zone 1- Timers
- Zone 2- Tachometers
- Zone 3- Energy meters
The order moves through all zones and employees who assigned to the specific zones are pick the items in the order and they will be sent for packing and shipping.
In a concurrent system, the order will be sent to all three zones simultaneously and each zone picks the specified items and sends them to the parking area for shipping. In the packing area, they are sorted by order.
Depending on your warehouse nature you have to choose the zone picking system.
Have a good warehouse management system(WMS): It is very important to have a warehouse management system with all features. It organizes the process and helps to move the orders smoothly through the system.
WMS also helps to track the employees by providing specific user IDs so that assigned employees can only carry out the picking process in their assigned location.
Buy the essential equipment for zone picking: Equipment and machines helps to boost your warehouse zone picking system. Purchase the equipment based on your companies picking strategy. Three types of strategies are
- Vehicle-based picking strategy
- Conveyor based picking strategy
- Goods-to-person picking strategy
Wave picking is one more picking method used in the warehouse. In this method, pickers take only one order at a time as per the scheduled orders.
Its advantages are
- Helps to reduce the order picking time
- Boosts the picking and shipping activities
Its disadvantages are
- It is not possible to perform two waves at a time
- Pickers have to wait for the completion of others work to start their work
What are the different methods of warehouse order picking system?
The different methods of warehouse order picking system are zone picking, wave picking, batch picking, single order picking, multi batch order picking, and cluster picking.
Automated order picking systems
Apart from the manual order picking system let us have a glance at the automated order picking system. Following are some regularly used automatic order picking systems that suites modern warehouses.
- Pick-to-light is a well- automated order picking system that needs LED lights and bar code scanners on all the shelves in the warehouse. When the bar code of the order scans, LED lights for SKUs of that order switch on and the picker can easily pick those SKUs.
- In the mobile scanner picking system, all products in the warehouse must have unique bar codes. Picker uses a mobile scanner that shows the list of items to be picked. He scans each item listed. If that item is not listed then the scanner shows errors.
- In the voice picking method, the order management system of the organization instructs the pickers about the items to be picked by sending voice instructions through headsets worn by the pickers.
- Mobile robots system is one of the automated methods in that robots are used to assists the picking activities by handling the manual works of product movements.
Get more definitions about zone picking and other ERP related terms here.