Lean practices mainly revolved around manufacturing operations but the principles of lean manufacturing can be effectively adopted in any warehouse. One of the major objectives of lean approach is to eliminate waste of any kind in a facility.
It could be wasted employee motion, unnecessary transportation, material waste, etc. Here are 5 ‘wastes’ that you can reduce in a warehouse by employing lean practices.
• Excess Inventory Waste
Having too much inventory will do you no good. You need to right-size the inventory levels to minimize inventory waste and free up space in the warehouse. Enabling a lean approach with real-time inventory visibility will allow you to determine on-hand inventory to demand forecasts better. Managing the inventory efficiently will make the warehouse more responsive to customer requests, reduce goods that are out of stock and minimize costs through reduced obsolescence and overstocking.
• Paper Waste
Lean principles help in making your warehouse almost paperless through recycling and reusing paper and packaging waste. An industrial shredder can be employed for shredding down the paper waste. The employees can access work-orders on their mobile devices in real-time and confirm they executed and finished the assigned task without having to rely on paper and pen at any stage. You can save time and money by eliminating paper — plus you can make your organization green by minimizing paper waste.
When you produce, purchase or execute more goods or services than the current or impending demand, it is known as overproduction. This can be a result of performing warehouse functions too soon or placing orders before the materials are required.
Overproduction also occurs when companies continue production, even if it isn’t required, just to keep the employees busy. It also occurs when they produce more features that necessary in any product or service. Any situation where employees are producing beyond the scope of requirements leads to overproduction.
You can reduce production waste by cutting down the labor hours and implementing multistep approval processes in production with lean batching.
• Over processing
Over processing is similar to overproduction — it means doing more than what is necessary, however, it is limited to the processes and not the products. It can be either having too many steps in a process or making the processes really complex. Overproduction refers to making 20 products when only 10 are needed while over processing is making 10 products only but running them through extra processes unnecessarily — for example putting the product through an extra round of quality check that wasn’t required.
Cut down all the extra steps which not only generate waste but also cause confusion and mistakes. Simplify the processes as much as you can, without affecting the quality of the product. One way to achieve that is by encouraging automation in lean manufacturing.
• Transportation Waste
Moving physical or manufacturing goods constantly from one facility to another, even if you know that those products would probably sit in the warehouse for an extended period of time contributes to transportation waste.
Avoid unnecessary routing of goods for stocking, filing or making space in the warehouse for other goods as it will cost you labor and fuel. There will be additional costs when employees end up wasting time trying to locate products that shouldn't have been moved in the first place.
Data wastage occurs when you use multiple systems without integration and have to enter the same data multiple times across various platforms.
Lean operations along with automated processes and integrated software applications help in eliminating this type of waste.
It might take some time to streamline the lean manufacturing processes but it is worth the time and effort. Focus consistently on waste elimination, lead time reduction, and continuous improvement to embark on a successful ‘lean journey’.
Erich Lawson is very passionate about the environment and is an advocate of effective recycling. He writes on a wide array of topics to inform readers on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly wastage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment saving techniques by visiting his blog on Compactor Management Company.