Lean third party logistics has become increasingly popular over the last few years, but most people don't actually know what that entails. There are several elements involved with lean operations, and they do not happen overnight. In this guide, we will explain what lean 3PL warehousing is and how it affects all parties involved.
Lean 3PL warehousing focuses on maximum efficiency, minimal overhead and minimal waste. It combines the idea of going green with low-cost business operations to save money and increase productivity across the board. Some warehouses are naturally more lean than others based on their location and the type of clients they service. Nevertheless, all distribution centers can go lean if they have the right plan from the start.
With lean warehousing, the goal is to get rid of as much waste as possible. This includes physical waste and non-physical waste. For instance, a warehouse may upgrade to energy efficient machines to reduce energy and fuel consumption. This is a reduction of physical waste. The same warehouse may also adjust their employee lineup to keep labor to a minimum. Put the right workers on the right shifts to get as much completed as possible in the shortest amount of time. This is a reduction of non-physical waste.
A lot of time is wasted in a warehouse from people moving around more than they should. This is often because the warehouse is not organized efficiently or workers do not have the right tools to do their jobs right. Another issue that could impact lean warehousing operations is the training workers go through before they go on the floor. If you put your workers out too soon, they will not work efficiently and they will consistently need help from others. Start the workers off in a slow-paced area of the warehouse so they can get a feel for the job before putting them in a crucial part of the line.
If there is too much of a certain type of inventory stored in the warehouse, it will take up space that could be better used for other products. On the other hand, having too little of certain inventory could reduce efficiency levels because the warehouse is constantly having to be restocked. Keep an eye on inventory levels and compare them to sales statistics for similar times of the year. If adjustments need to be made, take the steps necessary to get the right items in the warehouse at all times.
Returns are time consuming to process, and they may take away from a worker's efficiency. There should be a separate department in charge of returns so they ca be handled as quickly as possible. This is especially important for warehouses that offer order fulfillment services. Lean warehousing applies to every step of the job, including the aftermath of an order.
Follow the suggestions above and you will see a major improvement in warehouse operations.
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