In recent years, warehouse operations have become a critical component in managing complex inventory flow—with lean logistics taking a more prominent part of the fold as companies strive to reduce costs and maximize efficiencies.
By embracing lean logistics philosophies, companies gain a competitive advantage and have the added benefit of avoiding the 3 deadly sins we see in warehousing:
Sin #1: Travel Distance
Sin #2: Touches
Sin #3: Processing of Paper
These 3 deadly sins serve as the culmination of inefficiencies in the warehouse. Lean logistics aims to reduce their numbers, and these tips help you eliminate them.
Complete a Comprehensive Profile Analysis
You can create a comprehensive profile analysis by simply laying out the mix of products coming in and going out of the warehouse. When you create a profile, you should look to ask questions such as:
- How many pallets are coming into the warehouse?
- Are there seasonal shifts in the product mix?
- Are the products single or mixed?
When you ask questions like these, you start to build a profile of your warehouse. This profile drives virtually everything in your warehouse operations—labor, equipment, layout—all of it. Because of this, it is critical to have an accurate profile and to keep the profile up to date as the mix of products change.
This profile helps you zone and slot the warehouse properly, which ensures you are optimally locating products to maximize operational efficiency—reducing processing of paper and touches.
Prioritize Your Gemba Walks
Gemba is a Japanese term meaning "the real place," and in logistics, it represents the area where our employees work. Spreadsheets only tell so much of the story, so we always suggest managers go to the Gemba and see the work for themselves.
This leads to a better understanding how of work is done, which reduces travel time and the number of times products need to be touched. Walking the floor is also an opportunity for hands-on coaching and learning.
Only when managers get out on the floor and watch the work will they truly understand the work being done.
More Lean Tips You Can Embrace
The ultimate goal of lean operations is eliminating the 3 deadly sins of warehousing. Completing a profile analysis and recognizing the Gemba are two areas you can start to embrace lean logistics in your warehouse––but there are many more specific strategies that you can implement next.
Our eBook, Embracing Lean Warehousing, walks through the 7 areas of operations you need to examine and evolve as you work toward lean processes. Here is a sneak peek of the first 2 chapters of the eBook, along with the link to download it whenever you're ready to start cutting costs and simplifying your operations!