Lean Warehouse

One focus of applying lean manufacturing principles in your business is practicing waste savings for a lean warehouse. Lean warehousing strives to reduce resource usage while maintaining quality. Finding ways to reduce waste doesn’t happen overnight; it can be a process of working towards a goal over time, making small improvements in increments.

What is Lean Warehouse Management?

Some of the ways your business can approach lean warehousing principles include:

  1. Reduce inventory overages – the problem of carrying too much inventory extends well beyond your warehouse walls. Too much inventory usually means excess costs in storage, waste, and lost sales. Once you’re aware you have the problem, it’s prudent to work harder towards carrying only what demand dictates. SOS Inventory allows you to run reports on individual products, categories, etc. by location, time period and a wide range of other customizable variables that matter to your business. By reviewing historical sales data, and assessing the current trends, you can calculate future sales and determine how much to order to meet those sales.  This process will allow you to adjust inventory to what will sell, reduce inventory of less popular items, and solve the problem of not having enough storage space. Ask yourself if ordering large volumes to lower cost per unit is worthwhile when you waste what you cannot sell, thereby lowering overall profit per unit.
  2. Improve picking strategy – Locate fast-selling items closer to the front of the facility so employees don’t have to go as far to get them. It could also mean removing unnecessary steps, such as handling items more than once between stages. Get rid of paper picking and do everything with software to save time and keep better track of orders. Conducting physical inventory counts in SOS Inventory with a mobile device saves time and results in more accurate counts.
  3. Update technology to eliminate paper – while working on paper may be convenient for one person, sharing that information across the business requires additional steps and the possibility of misplaced digits. Keeping everyone on the same page with inventory software offers a sure way to keep data consistent between departments. SOS Inventory offers many valuable features to make this easy to achieve.
  4. Shorten paths between workflow stations – the layout of your warehouse will dictate how long it takes to move goods from one area to another. Improving the layout to cut down on time between stages will improve productivity. This may entail reorganization of goods placement, adding or moving shelving and making things easier to reach with machines. Lean management in warehouse organization can free up resources and make it easier to respond to fluctuations in demand.
lean warehouse

Often, employees can make helpful suggestions to improve their workflow or speed up processing of goods in the warehouse. Inquire how frequently they have to repeat movements and how much walking they need to do to perform their jobs. This information can offer a starting point for speeding up productivity. Machines designed to lift and move goods can speed up the handling process.

If your goal is to operate a lean warehouse, start with the tasks that are easiest to change to see results quickly. You are unlikely to eliminate all waste in a single try – and may just discover more areas for improvement over time. Lean warehousing is a long-term strategy that will allow you to continue tweaking warehouse operations over time for greater productivity and consistent quality maintenance.

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