How do you get Lean?
There are several different concepts that foster the Lean idea of maximising customer value while minimising waste that may help you to streamline your warehouse operations. In general, a combination of several different tools is required to achieve a truly successful Lean approach. Also, people involvement is key, since Lean won’t work if it’s just a top-down decision.
Lean concepts that lend themselves to application in a warehousing environment:
- Value-stream mapping: diagramming all the steps in the distribution process, from order to delivery.
- Team building: a bottom-up approach, involving operators and supervisors in identifying bottlenecks and kaizen (opportunities for improvement), is always a good idea.
- Problem solving: by means of root cause or fishbone analysis, for example.
Example of a fishbone analysis to find the roots of picking errors
- Error proofing: standardising work can be helpful, for example by providing visual instructions to operate equipment or follow a procedure.
- Kanbans: an inventory-control system to replenish consumed goods rather than maintain steady production.
- Pull systems: production based on actual demand from the market.
This video shows how a pull system can be implemented in a warehouse
- Cellular applications: often very useful to minimise labour and maximise the use of equipment and space if you do value-added activities such as kitting or assembly.
- Line balancing: levelling the workload across all processes can be applied to staffing, but also to ensure proper flow in the work cell.
- General waste reduction.
- 5S workplace organisation: sort, straighten, shine, standardise and sustain.
Companies that have switched to a Lean approach often observe that the changes that have been made not only improve total lead time, customer satisfaction and revenue, but also positively reflect on employee satisfaction and productivity.
- This slide deck features a case study of how Advent Design Corporation, a service company providing businesses with custom engineering solutions, helped a pork producer to implement Lean improvements.
- H.Essers, a Belgian third party logistics provider, decided to make their warehouse leaner. In order to reduce waste, outer packaging was removed and products are stored in a more efficient and standardized way. This resulted in an increase of 2.000 extra pallet positions and a tidier warehouse.
Learn how Storeganizer played an important part in getting Lean at H.Essers