Best Practices for a Lean Warehouse

Best Practices for a Lean Warehouse


Lean warehouse best practices must be maintained for a business to succeed in today’s manufacturing and logistics industries. As SKUs increase and customers become more demanding in the service they expect — driven largely by the prevalence of one- and two-day delivery services — there’s less margin for error and organizations must look to streamline their operations as much as possible. But what are the best practices for a lean warehouse? What should businesses be doing to make sure their operations are running as smoothly as possible?

Impact Business Development Specialist Fred Barrionuevo has dealt with businesses who need the answers to these exact problems, and he’s back again for part two of this lean operations series to discuss lean warehouse best practices, and how businesses can get started on a strategy to streamline.

Check out the video as Fred talks you through each one and gives you pointers on where your operations might be going wrong and what you can do to remedy it.

Check out the first episode on 5 Ways to Improve Warehouse Operations.

Want to know how to get a lean warehouse? See these best practices to get a better understanding of how to streamline your business, cut waste, and improve the efficiency of your operations.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Fred Barrionuevo, Business Specialist, Development, here at Impact. Today’s part two of a three-part series for lean operations within the warehousing environment. We’re going to break down what lean warehousing means.

The intent of lean manufacturing is obviously to eliminate the waste that you see in that environment. We should start by just reviewing what those seven ways are. The first of which is inventory itself, right? If you have more inventory than you really need, you’re probably going to need a larger space for it, and that is wasteful.

That creates additional waste in things like motion for your employees, for any of the equipment that you’re using to move things around the warehouse. If it’s a larger space than necessary, then you are wasting time by sending people back and forth, so that’s not optimized. The next one that you would want to consider would be the actual transportation itself.

That is more related to the vehicles that you might be using in and out of the facility, as well as vehicles within the facility to move things from different staging areas. After that, we start to look at defects that you might see from the movement of the transportation, whether that’s by hand manually, or whether that’s by your vehicles. The larger space you have, the longer you have for travel commutes.

There’s more potential there for you to accidentally break something. Defects are problematic; obviously that’s wasteful. Last but not least, I would say that these go hand in hand and are an overview of the two that we’ve covered. It’s really overproduction and overprocessing. Overproduction is just related to why you might have too much inventory or why your manufacturing floor is pushing out more than it necessarily needs. Overprocessing is then because we have too much stuff.

We spent too much time doing tasks that are not adding any value to the operations. So, when you’re trying to eliminate a lot of the waste that we just covered, what’s traditionally done, at least in Japan, where the five S methodology came from that has now moved its way overseas is to eliminate a lot of that way.

We spent too much time doing tasks that are not adding any value to the operations. When you’re trying to eliminate a lot of the waste that we just covered, what’s traditionally done, at least in Japan where the 5S methodology came from, that has now moved its way overseas is to eliminate a lot of that waste.

5S in lean warehousing environments starts with the first one, which is to sort, and sorting is just basically saying, we need to evaluate what we do need, what we don’t need and organizing that to clear away any waste that you might already have. Number two is set, so that’s figuring out what the best environment, in terms of location, where to stage things, how to set up the space that you’re working in. After you’ve set up your environment, then you do want to keep it shined.

So that’s the third S within this methodology. Shining is just keeping the place cleanly so that you avoid any issues from a safety precaution standpoint, and then also obviously from making sure that you’re producing as little defects as possible when you’re moving things around. At that point, you really want to standardize sets the fourth S, which is all of the things that you just went through, come up with a procedure that you can revisit and redo on a regular basis.

And once you have those procedures and you’ve standardized them, then you want to sustain them, and sustaining them is simply that going back and making sure you are committing to the five S’s, whatever you’ve set up for your standardized procedures, and doing that over time because over time you can go back and refine those things and continually get better.

At the end of the day, lean warehouse operations are really integral at this point to running an effective manufacturing or assembly, even distribution type of environment. In order to do that, obviously you have to eliminate wastes within the actual warehouses themselves, and one way to do that is by following the 5S methodology. Thanks for joining us today, stay tuned for episode three. We’re going to be looking at my favorite part of all of this, which is the supply chain analytics.