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The concept of zoning a warehouse refers to the division of the available space of a warehouse into different areas or zones to achieve maximum optimisation based on the chosen criteria: use of space, cost reduction, minimisation of time, etc.
The correct organisation of the products in the warehouse will be key for any company that wants to optimise its logistics processes. Firstly, it is important to know the different areas or zones of a warehouse and then decide what parameters should be used to zone the goods: by type of product, expiry, volume, proximity to the reception or shipment area of the warehouse, etc.
One of the most typical models for zoning the goods in a warehouse are the FIFO and LIFO models. While the FIFO system prioritises the outflow of goods that entered the warehouse first, the LIFO system (less common) prioritises the outflow of goods that entered the warehouse last.
Warehouse zoning of goods must strive for full optimisation of warehouse operations; key factors that must be considered in its planning are:
The characteristics of each good will be one of the main elements when zoning and storing it in a space in the warehouse. Some product characteristics to consider are:
Considering these characteristics, it will be necessary to define and organise what criteria should be used for zoning, and adopt some of them to implement this. For example, warehouse zoning of products will be prioritised according to whether they are high or low turnover, but grouping complementary products together too.
Having defined the criteria and performed the analysis, suitable areas will be located for the storage of each product.
The following methods can be used to zone different products in a warehouse:
The ABC method or classification is used to zone goods in a warehouse considering those that are most important to the company based on criteria such as greatest impact on the company’s profits and those with higher turnover, instead of treating all the references the same or organising them by their size, weight or quantity.
It is based on the 80/20 principle, which states that as a general rule 20% of all product references generate 80% of a company’s profits.
Therefore, this method focuses on giving priority and better location in the warehouse to products with a higher sales volume or turnover for the company.
The products will be zoned into separate areas: A, B and C. Zone A will be closest to the shipment area and will be the easiest to access and have the most resources allocated to it.
In this type of zoning, products are grouped by similar characteristics, either by individual products or unit loads.
With this system, warehouse zones will be reserved for each family or group of families.
However, zoning exclusively based on this criterion can be inefficient and lead to unnecessary costs and distances inside the facility.
This is the most complex but also the most efficient method, as it combines the advantages of the two above-mentioned methods with an ABC analysis to prioritise products by their importance. Its aim though is also to achieve that ABC zoning, grouping products by families.