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Changes in manufacturing practices and increasing globalization are creating new challenges for warehouse management and logistics. Companies can no longer tolerate backorder situations, nor can they allow stock to sit on shelves waiting for an order to occur. Most managers understand the need to operate efficiently, but they are also looking for ways to reduce cost.
One popular approach to efficiency revolves around adopting “Lean” principles to the the warehouse. At its core, Lean is an approach that focuses on creating the most value for customers with the fewest resources. Lean organizations are constantly honing their tools and processes to continuously make improvements and reduce warehouse waste. Literature on Lean identifies seven key areas of warehouse waste and make recommendations for their improvement: Transportation, Inventory, Movement, Waiting, Overprocessing, Defects, and Space.
Lean principles and practices have had a huge influence on the manufacturing sector over the last few decades, but improvements have not always trickled down to warehouse operations. The problem: Implementing Lean in a warehouse or distribution center differs in many ways from implementing in a manufacturing plant. Even though the Lean principles are the same everywhere, employing them in a warehouse environment requires a more specialized approach.
Knowing the areas of warehouse waste, however, can help pinpoint several ways that warehousing and logistics operations can be improved for creating lean warehouse practices.
By tackling each of these warehouse waste areas and implementing these 7 Lean practices to your warehouse, you will be able to incrementally reduce processing time and costs. Of course, you will need to implement a Lean culture as well, one where employees understand Lean principles and use them to improve processes in an atmosphere of trust and respect. But that is a topic for another post.
In the meantime, if you are interested in 3pl software solutions that can tackle some of these problems, and a demonstration of in action, contact us. We would love to show you how the shipping process can be.
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