In the development of its continual improvement initiatives, Midwest warehousing provider FW Warehousing has taken to heart the ideas and principles of lean management. While based on concepts derived from the Japanese manufacturing sector, lean management principles translate directly into the world of warehousing and third-party logistics. Here’s a brief overview of the subject:
The goals of lean management in warehousing and logistics are the same as the goals of lean management in general: to provide the highest quality at the lowest cost with the shortest turnaround time. It doesn’t matter if an organization is an automaker, electronics manufacturer or a Midwest warehousing company.
Below is a list of the seven waste types that lean management attempts to reduce/eliminate through continual improvement efforts. Examples related to logistics and warehousing for these various waste types are included.
Defects – The effort involved in inspecting work and fixing defects.
- Work done to correct other poorly done or incorrect work such as mis-picks
- Orders being returned due to incorrect or mis-printed shipping labels.
Inventory – All components, works in process and finished goods.
- Carrying too much inventory (or any significant inventory if Just-In-Time manufacturing is feasible)
- At the warehouse level, holding staged material in an area or areas that cause bottlenecks or congestion in work flow.
Motion – People or equipment moving more than necessary to perform the processing.
- Unloading a trailer and putting the pallets temporarily on the warehouse floor rather than putting them immediately into the assigned storage racks.
- Out-of-route mileage in trucking.
Overproduction – Production uncoupled from demand.
- Keeping production lines operating when there are no orders to be filled.
- A distributor ordering product before there is demand for it.
Over Processing – Resulting from poor systems, tool or product designs.
- In a scenario where cross docking is feasible, the steps involved with warehousing merchandise could be considered over processing; i.e, put-away, storage and order picking.
- Using an oversized shipping carton and more packing materials than is necessary based on the size and shape of the item to be shipped.
Transport – Moving items or materials that are not actually required to perform the processing.
- Deadhead miles in trucking.
- An unloaded forklift making an unnecessary trip across the warehouse.
Waiting – Waiting for the next production step.
- A driver waiting for a trailer to be loaded or unloaded in trucking.
- Warehouse workers at a packing station waiting for completed orders from the pick team.
Through preparation, better organizational design and planning, lean also seeks to eliminate unreasonable work; i.e, pushing workers or equipment beyond their limits carrying heavier loads, working faster than usual, performing dangerous tasks. Lean also seeks to eliminate fluctuations in quality and volume which aligns closely with the principles of Just-In-Time inventory control and manufacturing.
FW Warehousing is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri with Midwest warehouse distribution centers in Kansas City, Indianapolis and St. Louis totaling more than four million square feet. Founded in 1949 with a focus on food-grade storage, FW later broadened its services to include contract warehousing, dry storage, hazardous material and chemical storage, temperature-controlled storage, product distribution and B2B and B2C fulfillment.
FW Warehousing has more than 50 years of experience in third-party 3PL logistics and has been ranked in the top 100 Third Party Logistic Companies in the country by Inbound Logistics magazine.
For more information about this Midwest warehousing provider’s full range of logistics services, visit the FW Warehousing website.