Lean Warehouse Mangement: We Broke It Down for You

The average warehouse in the U.S. wastes 6.9 weeks a year on the unnecessary motion of labor forces, says the US Census Bureau. The unnecessary motion of labor forces is the enemy of lean warehouse management

Why? Operational inefficiency. 

Despite having an efficient warehousing strategy, most warehouses struggle with lean warehousing. Operational efficiency will need a new approach so you can spot good process changes over time. This will positively impact customers and your bottom line – leading to excellent lean warehouse management.

What Is Lean Warehouse Management?

The concept of lean warehouse management is not as clearly defined as other concepts frequently used in the warehousing and e-commerce sectors.

Lean warehouse management is the practice of creating procedures within a warehouse that reduce resource consumption without surrendering or lowering the level of productivity that the warehouse is operating at. An efficient and successful work environment for your staff is the goal of a lean warehouse.

By doing this, your warehouse will increase its profitability, reduce the likelihood of burned-out workers, and retain more workers.

Let’s see how you can make your warehouse lean by following these 5 steps:

I. Sort and Organize

Sort is an acronym for effectively sorting and arranging your warehouse. Effective organization is one of the most crucial things you can do for your warehouse. There are various approaches to sorting and arranging, but the most important thing is to ensure you do it on purpose. Break down every warehouse process so that it can be simplified into fewer steps

By doing this, you can ensure that your warehouse operates well. Making sure you don’t have any obsolete inventory is another benefit of proper sorting methods. This will enable your warehouse to make the most money.

Lean Warehouse Management: Inventory Age

This chart highlights the stages that a product goes through before it becomes obsolete inventory.

II. Streamline and Set-In-Order

You can reduce the time required for your workers to complete tasks by setting up an efficient area. You do this after you’ve reduced each operation to the bare minimum required for success.

A great example of this would be putting bulky or delicate items where they would require less travel to get to. This will allow staff embers handling these types of items to put them away in less time and prevent injury or breakages.

Staff could end up doing more on a daily basis if different processes have fewer handling and step requirements. You could even hire fewer people as a result which will save money.

III. Shine and Clean

Shine alludes to the care and maintenance required to maintain a lean warehouse. Your workers won’t be able to work efficiently if your warehouse isn’t kept tidy and maintained. Setting up a maintenance and cleaning reporting schedule is the best method to ensure your warehouse operations are as spotless as possible. Plan for large all-team quarterly clean-ups and weekly or monthly mini clean-ups to assist keep your facility clean and ensure that all systems are functioning correctly.

Nothing is worse than having a pile of cardboard boxes and pallets with no one on your team prepared to take charge of maintaining cleanliness. You can handle “Shine and Clean”  by assigning cleaning in a rotation or to the entire crew.

Keeping a tidy warehouse helps avoid and minimize workplace injuries, some of which can end up fatal. These injuries are clearly still an issue and happen more regularly than you think.

According to the German Social Accident Insurance (DGUV), there were 871,547 work accidents occurred in Germany in 2019. 497 of these ended up being fatal. In the exact same year, there were 87541 accidents at work during the manual transporting of goods and a further 154570 accidents during the manual handling of objects. A chilling statistic that suggests that there is still massive improvement needed.

IV. Standardize Processes

Standardize is about developing uniform systems and providing training to ensure that every employee is familiar with all the procedures. Your team will work more effectively together if there is open communication and consistency across the warehouse operations. Regular training and a thorough onboarding procedure for new hires are the most significant ways to guarantee that correct standardized processes are in place.

Standardizing processes is vital for warehouse settings because the less time wasted then the more money that could be saved. A good example of this is the return process for items. According to Invesp, 30% of all products ordered online end up being returned. This is quite a significant amount compared to brick-and-mortar businesses which are around 9%. 

You won’t be able to guarantee that every employee is familiar with every process unless you make sure they are all given quality training. There are numerous paperwork, labeling, and packing requirements for warehouses. how.fm can help employees stay up to date with the latest processes with online training. Choose ready-to-use templates that are completely customizable. Also, you can manage future training programs easily using how.fm.

Warehouse employees learning on the go using how.fm app
Warehouse employees learning on the go using how.fm app

V. Sustain Through The Process

To maintain your lean warehousing practices, you must continue these specific processes. To make your warehouse as effective and efficient as possible, continually evaluate these five concepts. Your lean warehouse management techniques will need to be continually improved. This is particularly true as your warehouse expands and scales over time.

Maintaining a lean and focused approach is the key to producing quality work, keeping team members productive, and maximizing revenues.

Software Solution for Lean Warehouse Management

Bringing lean warehouse management practices into your warehouse will yield results. You can make it a part of your warehouse culture. You want to ensure issues are evident right away and sorted even quicker.

Lean warehouse practices offer themselves as a simple yet effective technique to achieve transformation and competitive advantage. Additionally, you can use technology to enhance your lean warehouse since digitalization also focuses on streamlining and enhancing operations.

how.fm is an end-to-end digital training solution. You could use how.fm for health and safety training, or as a way to communicate work instructions. By digitally training your staff you have already eliminated the need for someone else to do it. Additional workers can now carry out other tasks as a consequence. how.fm has hundreds of training templates. These can be tailored to suit the training requirements of warehouse and contract logistics. how.fm training packages can be offered and translated into over 30 different languages.

Looking to make your warehouse lean? Book a meeting with our training experts here