Warehouse Zone Storage Decisions
When a warehouse is being designed, a decision that needs to be made is how to store items. Depending on the items that will be stored in the warehouse, a business can decide just to rack, if the items are mostly stored on pallets, or they can use carousels for small items, such as electrical parts, or items can be stored in open storage where the items are just assigned to the next empty bin.
However, some companies have materials that require them to be stored together and away from other items. This is the case when the characteristics of an item require it to be stored below or above a certain temperature, or due to its volatile nature, has to be stored in a special cabinet or area or room. This last scenario is called zoned storage and is a common form of storage used in warehouses.
Zones In The Warehouse
The zoned storage method used in warehousing is a variation of fixed bin storage. In a warehouse that used fixed bins, the items are always stored in the same locations within a warehouse. This allows the warehouse staff to know where the items will be stored. In zoned storage, the items are stored in the same location, but in a specific zone which is determined by characteristics of the item.
- Refrigerated Zone - A business may use items that need to be kept at a certain temperature such as food items or certain chemicals. Many businesses have multi-temperature warehouses with both ambient and refrigerated zoned areas. These refrigerated zones usually keep items at 38 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Some warehouses need to keep items frozen and these zones will have temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit. These zones will only store the materials that have these requirements.
- Dry Storage - 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. If temperatures in the dry storage area exceed 70 degrees, 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 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.
- Flammable Liquids - Some companies use chemicals in their manufacturing process and these need to be stored safely. Depending on the chemicals they need to be stored in an approved storage cabinet and not will other non-flammable liquids.
- Corrosive Materials - Corrosive Materials such as acids, also must be stored in the warehouse in their separate cabinets.
- Gas Cylinder Storage - Gas cylinders are commonly stored in warehouses, but they must be stored in a designated area, which includes chaining or strapping them to a warehouse wall. They must always be transported using a cart with safety chains when moving gas cylinders around the warehouse.
- Oversize Storage - Some materials in the warehouse will not fit in a normal size rack and need to be stored in a separate area. For example in an automotive warehouse, complete exhaust systems could not be stored on normal racking, so would have to be stored in an area specifically for oversized items.
- Security Cage - For companies that have to storage small size, but high-value items, such as brand-name pharmaceuticals, there may be a need to store the items in a security zone. This can be achieved either by creating a secure aisle where there are locked gates at each end of the aisle or by using a security cage where the movement of the high-value items is checked by personnel.