Lean Warehouse Management
Lean Warehouse Management

Lean warehousing management

The warehouse function is usually that part of your business which operates behind the scenes supporting picking, packing and despatching customer orders. It generates enormous attention when the orders are not being delivered on time and customer relationships are being impacted.

To understand the real worth of your warehouse operation and the contribution it can make to customer service levels, value stream opportunities need to be identified to reduce cost, improve your storage solution by implementing lean.

By applying lean principles to warehouse management, we can unlock more hidden potential for your warehouse operation. Reduce waste by simplifying warehouse processes and implementing error proofing lean methods that will continuous improvement operational standards.

Lean warehousing management: "Which functions can be improved?"

Traditional warehousing analysis methods can only go so far to improve operational performance. Dynamic warehouse simulation modelling integrates with your ERP system and warehouse management system to address warehouse problems in real time. By using the principles of lean warehousing, your warehouse operation can be more responsive to changes in customer demand and order fulfilment deadlines.

Inventory will move through each warehouse process from receiving, put-away, replenishment, order picking and final despatch. Cost and service requirements can be established within the simulation model to constantly strive to achieve the highest level of optimisation.

We describe our Q & A process for a typical warehouse operation.

Warehouse receiving function

Is there a layout of the operation? Does the operation have the right equipment to load and unload safely? Is the inbound delivery schedule working? What is the order processing cycle and is it acceptable? Which deliveries do not conform to your receiving standards? Have resources been deployed to balance requirements with deadlines?

Warehouse put-away process

What is the standard for stock identification? Are put-away cycle times within your acceptance level? How are resources being deployed to tasks? What is the error rate for put away items? Are there process delays due to equipment availability? How many items cannot be found?

Stock replenishment process

How does the process work? Does the ERP or WMS trigger replenishment tasks? Are the replenishment trigger points working as expected? Is there too much inventory being moved, then returned to location? Is the equipment right for the replenishment task? What is the replenishment cycle time?

Warehousing stock and location control

Is there ownership of this function? How is inventory reconciled? Is the system being updated to remove blank locations? What is the warehouse storage utilisation level? Is perishable stock being rotated to minimise inventory loss? Are all of the location labels operational?

Order taking and release process

What tools are being used to undertake these tasks? What is the level of systems integration, WEB, ERP, WMS? How is the decision making process working for prioritising orders? Is order release schedule batched or dynamic? What rules are applied to drive the release process? What is the ration of auto release versus manual release?

Warehousing picking methods

How are work loads allocated and managed? How efficient are the picking processes? What is the order cycle time for picking? Does inventory slotting change or is it static? What technology is being used to drive picking? Voice, RF, paper? Does the picking process conform to OHS requirements?

Kit or order assembly

Is there a dedicated area for assembly? How are components allocated for assembly? Is the assembly process outsourced? How is inventory and what is the accuracy? Where are the sub assemblies located and how are they retrieved? What equipment is being used for the assembly process?

Materials handling equipment

Does the warehouse use the correct equipment? What is the utilisation level for your forklifts and stock pickers? Should the equipment be owned or leased? Is the maintenance cost increasing? How do you assess the right type of equipment?

Storage strategies for warehousing

Is there a stock location plan? Should inventory be stored by customer? Should inventory be zoned based on frequency or volume? Do we use carton live storage for fast movers? How is bulk stock stored and is it centralised by sku? Where is split case stored and how is it replenished?

Sortation systems to support distribution

Is there a floor plan of the sortation operation? How are resources being deployed to support daily sortation? Is the sortation manual or automated? How are orders or loads consolidated? What is the number of lost cartons or pallets?

Export order process

How are consignments prepared for despatch? Is there ownership for document creation? How are export load plans developed? What is the cycle time for export orders? Is the containerisation outsourced or in house? What is the mix of air or sea consignments?

Shipping and distribution

Are export orders meeting vessel or airline schedules? How is despatch planning organised and managed? What tools are used to support the booking process? Are local deliveries outsourced or in house? What are the Line haul requirements and delivery schedule? How are orders tracked for linehaul?

Reverse logistics

Is the process documented? In what state are goods returned? What are the authorisation protocols for returns? Are resources allocated or are they fixed? How is damaged stock managed, isolated and written off? What is the cycle time for the returns process?

Lean warehousing: "Results of improvements"

By following a structured program of planning, evaluating, implementing and monitoring, we have proudly contributed to delivering change and improvement in a number warehouse operations. Through tailored assessments and implementation programs, processes have been improved and supported by integrated supply chain technologies for further warehouse optimisation. Here are some improvement deliverables:

  • Improved cycle time within receiving function
  • Implemented EDI functionality to integrate ERP order flow
  • WMS implementation delivers centralised control
  • RF scanning to support all aspects of warehouse processing
  • Implementation and modification of sortation systems
  • Warehouse layout modification improves goods flow
  • Reduction in overall supply chain costs
  • Implemented standardised performance metrics

Next Steps:

A Turn Key Solution offers your organisation the same opportunities to improve the health and direction of your supply chain, logistics function or warehouse operations.We provide supply chain assessment modules, process simulation, warehouse automation, business integration and quality supply chain resources for project management or interim support to build a sustainable supply chain for your organisation.

Process Simulation

Our supply chain consulting practice uses advanced 2D or 3D simulation modelling tool's to provide our clients with the latest process based integrated solutions to improve supply chain performance in real-time, identifying issues and bottlenecks within a virtual environment. Take a look at our supply chain simulation, logistics simulation, warehouse simulation and distribution network model.

Quick process wins are delivered much faster, while structural supply chain changes require capital investment in warehouse automation and distribution solutions for your operation. Advanced supply chain optimisation is the aim by integrating ERP, WMS or Manufacturing systems to achieve real time visibility.

Warehouse Automation

Supported by a strong industry specialist network, we are able to meet the supply chain challenges your company is facing today. Strengthen your supply chain, distribution centre, warehouse or manufacturing facility with integrated warehouse automation systems and distribution solutions. Custom made materials handling, storage and retrieval systems range include: Conveyors, Fulfillment, Robotics, Packaging, Sortation, Shipping Systems, Software and safety equipment. 

We also offer a comprehensive review of your warehouse operation to make sure that the right solution is identified, planned and implemented. Depending upon the outcome of the review, we also offer a range of services that support the final automation solution, namely: a warehouse layout and design service, warehouse process modifications, warehouse systems or a warehouse layout design for a specific area.