The Warehouse Consultant applies lean thinking to all of our warehousing, logistics and distribution processes. Lean is a fact-of-life in today's business world. Do more with fewer resources.
In addition Logistics processes need to be agile. Agility and flexibility are the essence of good warehousing and intelligent logistics management. Adaptive and able to move-quickly is necessary for an effective distribution strategy. Each order must be handled differently. Each customer has their own set of instructions and requirements to satisfy its supply chain.
Lean thinking in the warehouse
In every warehouse setup, The Warehouse Consultant utilises a customer and process-focused deployment strategy built around obtaining measurable performance, customer satisfaction, and financial results in warehousing and distribution processes. We base our strategies on lean thinking practical solutions.
What is Lean?
Lean is an integrated set of industrial principles and methods first developed by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones and articulated in their landmark 1996 book Lean Thinking (Simon & Schuster). It grew out of the authors' ground breaking study of the Japanese automobile industry, The Machine That Changed the World (Simon & Schuster).
Lean thinking enables companies to find the best way to specify value for the customer, to identify the value stream for each product, to cause the product to flow smoothly from concept to customer, to permit the customer to pull value as needed from the producer, and to make a lean leap toward perfection. The concept of value, value stream, flow, pull, and perfection are deployed by means of lean techniques for product development, production, purchasing, and customer support. What better area than your warehousing and distribution.
Think about your current Warehousing (3PL) solution.
Ask, "why are you doing this?" If it is because you always have, then rethink what you are doing.
Are you doing something that is not adding value to your customer service levels and or increases your logistics, supply chain or warehouse costs?
Are you doing something that adds control to your logistics or supply chain but increases bureaucracy?
Are you measuring what you can but not what matters?
Are you looking at what is coming or correcting the past?
Are you persisting with what doesn't work?
Are you improving what already works?
It is also crucial to understand the importance of flexibility in a process, because customers demand it and Third Party Warehousing (3PL) processes need to eliminate it.
Lean Thinking incorporates the concepts of customer value, continuous flow, pull, and relentless waste reduction, and applies them to all company improvement activity. It is an integrated set of industrial principles and methods that grew out of a ground breaking 1990s study of the Japanese automobile industry.
Lean Thinking gives you the power to:
find the best way to specify value for your customer
identify the value stream for each of your products
ensure your products flow smoothly from concept to customer
permit the customer to pull value as needed from the producer
make a leap toward perfection
The Five Steps of Lean
Step 1: Specify Value
Define value from the perspective of the final customer. Express value in terms of a specific product, which meets the customer's needs at a specific price and at a specific time.
Step 2: Map
Identify the value stream, the set of all specific actions required to bring a specific product through the three critical management tasks of any logistics, supply chain or warehouse: the problem-solving task, the information management task, and the physical transformation task. Create a map of the Current State and the Future State of the value stream. Identify and categorize waste in the Current State , and eliminate it!
Step 3: Flow
Make the remaining steps in the value stream flow. Eliminate functional barriers and develop a product-focused organization that dramatically improves lead-time.
Step 4: Pull
Let the customer pull products as needed, eliminating the need for a sales forecast.
Step 5: Perfection
There is no end to the process of reducing effort, time, space, cost, and mistakes. Return to the first step and begin the next lean transformation, offering a product which is ever more nearly what the customer wants.
The Five "S" of Lean
The first S focused on eliminating unnecessary items from warehousing.
Paperwork in warehousing is common but typically ineffective and should be eliminated.
Radio Frequency (RF) technology or pick to voice eliminate paperwork from warehousing.
Single button automated stretch warp machine should be installed to wrap pallets.
Warehouse Management Software should be configured with weights and measures (per item) to eliminate the need for scales and to allow auto calculation of weights and measures.
Walk paths need to be set up with no loop back during order picking to complete an order.
Products need to be placed strategically so that heavy products could be picked first and smaller lighter items picked last, in order to eliminate the need to re stack pallets.
Forklifts need to be able to operate anywhere in the warehouse.
Man up order pickers eliminate the need for ladders, and assist with order picking from level 2 and 3.
Set In Order (Seiton)
The second S focuses on efficient and effective storage methods.
A place for everything and everything in its place.
Racking should be erected in the warehouse to specification.
Wide aisles allow fast movement for picking and replenishment.
Bin locations should be set up to allow X and Y coordinates and for a standardised gird of locations in the warehouse.
All locations should be bar-coded and all aisles fitted with large visible signs, to enable quick and effective orientation on site.
Pick trolleys should have a place for a knife, calculator and a tape gun.
Packing bench should include cartons, tape and packaging material, all within arm's reach.
High speed printer should be used.
Standard label size should be used in the warehouse. Thus, when an order is completed and all cartons packed the store person can print all dispatch labels for the shipments.
The third S is to keep the warehouse clean.
All racking and benches should be fixed to the floor.
Product should not be allowed in the aisles.
Product should not be allowed into the pick face from bulk until all stretch wrap has been removed.
Pyramid picking should not allowed.
Cleaners should be engaged to service the warehouse office and all amenities.
Warehouse staff should clean floors daily with an electric sweeper. (Daily cleaning is part of the process.
A clean and clutter-free work area encourages staff to take pride in their work and environment and to take ownership of the equipment and facility.
A floor scrubber should also be engaged to remove ground-in dirt from the concrete floor as required.
The fourth S is standardising best practice in your warehouse.
RF units and PCs should be standardised. PCs should be selected based on ease of use and colour (black).
The following process should be established:
When orders are received they should update the Warehouse Management System automatically ready for picking.
Pickers select order pick and the system should direct them to the first pick location in the pick path needed for that order.
When the order is complete the invoice (or delivery note) prints in the warehouse and is attached to the order ready for dispatch.
Menus are specific for each function to assist staff with their functions. Pickers can see the pick menu, receiving the receipt menu and dispatch sees the information for dispatch.
Receiving requires items to be booked in and a pallet ID attached to all inbound items. This is then used for put-a-way, replenishment and picking, as items move around the warehouse.
Stock takes, cycle counting and returns to the client are all managed via the RF units and the pallet ID labels.
This is by far the most difficult S to implement and achieve. Human nature is to resist change and more than a few organisations have found themselves with a dirty, cluttered warehouse just a few months after attempting to implement 5S.
The tendency is to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the 'old way' of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard of warehouse organisation.
Being a Lean implementation there is no "old way" of doing things. With the removal of paperwork and the need to use RF units to perform tasks in warehousing the status quo is the process.