Jan 19, 2016

Each year, more and more companies are turning to lean practices in order to reduce waste and increase efficiency. Surveys have shown that lean operations are a growing trend in the industry, and for good reason. Lean warehouses can be more effective at fulfilling orders and can do so in a more cost efficient manner.

But what does it mean to go lean?

A lean warehouse culture is less about changing what a company is doing and more about simplifying the way in which it is done. It’s the process, not the operation itself that dictates warehouse performance.

This is the essence of the lean warehouse culture. Whether it is being referred to as Six Sigma, Kaizen or Business Process Reengineering, the idea behind each of these titles doesn’t change:

Simplify the process so that it takes less time to complete.

Some may translate this as increasing the number of hands to help out, or working faster in order to get more done, but that is counterintuitive to the idea behind the lean movement. Lean culture is not about speed, it is about speed through efficiency.

Creating a fast and efficient warehouse
Whether a warehouse is optimizing its layout to decrease loading time or simplifying the process of order fulfillment, it is implementing a lean principle that will increase its efficiency.

Not every warehouse is the same, so not every plan for lean operations will look exactly alike. Some will require a flow-based approach that simplifies the way product is moved about the warehouse. Others may require a more automated approach that uses tracking to more quickly locate where items are stored.

The exact improvements may change from warehouse to warehouse, but the basic lean principles will not.

Implementing lean principles
There are many lean principles that can be implemented based on where a warehouse needs to cut waste. These can include any of the following:

  • 5S: a lean strategy that stands for sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and self-discipline. Each process is designed to identify problem areas in a warehouse and address their root causes.
  • Just in Time: JIT strategy employs a process where the exact time to complete each process is precisely mapped out in order to eliminate waiting and downtime. There is zero wasted time with JIT processes. The goal is to create a flow of operations that never stops.
  • A3 thinking: A3 thinking is a process that encourages employees to build a consensus on what the priority is in their workplace. It encourages communication, teamwork and efficiency through a shared workload. This lean principle is a great way to keep employees focused on improving their own performance.

Take it from the lean experts
King Solutions has been adapting and implementing lean principles for years, and we have created a system to manage our warehouse that is fast, efficient and up to date. Our methods are why we have become a preferred partner for companies in many different industries.

To learn more about how to implement a lean warehouse culture, or to see what King Solutions can do for your company, connect with me on LinkedIn today.