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How Lean Warehouse Management Can Improve Efficiency


Efficient and effective warehouse management is the key to success for businesses. Traditionally used as a place to store inventory, today warehouses are also used for packing, dispatching, sorting and more. This means that as business operations continue to develop and expand, warehouse management must do the same.

One way to improve warehouse management is through lean warehousing. This blog will discuss what lean warehousing is and its core principles, including sorting and organizing, streamlining and setting in order, shining and cleaning, standardizing processes, and sustaining through the process.

Additionally, this blog will highlight the benefits of implementing lean warehousing for businesses, warehouse managers and professionals in the supply chain industry.

What Is Lean Warehousing?

Lean warehousing is a type of warehouse management system that aims to streamline the flow of materials and products through the warehouse to reduce or eliminate waste. Essentially, a lean warehouse emphasises efficiency and eliminating waste.

The goal of creating a lean warehouse is to reduce costs, reduce errors, improve processes, and improve customer satisfaction. Most lean warehouses incorporate automated storage and retrieval systems, warehouse control systems, and warehouse management systems to improve operational performance efficiency.

The key principles of lean warehousing include minimising waste, reducing inventory, improving accuracy, and improving customer satisfaction. In turn, lean warehousing presents many benefits to warehouse managers and professionals in the supply chain industry. This includes better productivity, enhanced quality, improved safety and increased agility.

By eliminating inefficient processes and avoiding overstocking, lean warehouses focus on optimising operations and floor space.

Core Principles for Lean Warehousing

1. Sort and Organize

Sorting is the first step to achieving lean management in the warehouse. This is the process of removing items from the warehouse that do not serve a purpose, are inefficient, or are not required to maintain the current level of production. This may involve storing them elsewhere or disposing of them.

Once all unnecessary items have been removed, you can begin to organise the essential items and optimise the floor plan. To achieve an optimal layout, it is important to place items in the best possible location. All remaining items should be easy to access to improve efficiency and productivity.

As a general rule, items and equipment used every day should be stored within arm’s reach of the point of use. Items used once a week should be stored within the work area and equipment used less frequently should be kept in a holding area or distant location.

2. Streamline and Set-In-Order

Streamlining and setting your lean warehouse in order focuses on refining your operational workflow. This further encourages the removal of unnecessary processes within the warehouse to allow for maximum accessibility.

By streamlining business processes and practices, you can optimise your warehouse to reduce wasted time and energy consumption. This includes arranging your inventory, storage, and equipment so that each task in the warehouse can take the shortest amount of time possible to complete.

Assigning each item and piece of equipment a home within the warehouse increases the likelihood that it will be returned there by the end of each working day. This further showcases the effectiveness of a streamlined physical set-up and how it can be used to reduce the time required by workers to complete a task. 

3. Shine and Clean

Shine and clean refers to the maintenance and upkeep that is required to benefit from a lean warehouse. If your warehouse is not clean and well-maintained, you will not be able to work efficiently. Keeping on top of your business operations and physical tidiness is essential.

One way to ensure optimum efficiency in your warehouse is to create a maintenance and cleaning routine schedule. Carrying out quarterly clean-ups as well as weekly or monthly tidy-ups ensures your systems remain efficient and your warehouse is continually clean and suitable for optimum working.

4. Standardise Processes

By implementing standardised processes, you ensure consistency throughout your warehouse operations. By training your workers to understand and operate uniform systems, each will be able to complete their duties efficiently.

Furthermore, regular training and an in-depth onboarding process for new workers and hirers are additional great ways to ensure workers use the correct procedures in the workplace. If every employee receives informative training, they will be able to comply with the standardised process.

To maximise a lean warehouse, keeping everything from paperwork and labelling to packing standards standardised helps to improve efficiency and effectiveness.

5. Sustain Through The Process

To experience the benefits that a lean warehouse presents, you must sustain each of the core principles. By continually evaluating and reevaluating each of these core criteria, you can ensure your warehouse remains as efficient as possible.

As your company grows so will your demands. This is the most important time to assess your lean management processes to ensure you continue to benefit from this warehouse management style.

Why Implement Lean Warehousing?

Implementing lean warehousing and using the 5S systems can simply help warehouses avoid overstocking, optimise operations and reduce waste. The benefits of lean warehousing are both significant and immediate to a business making it an attractive warehouse management solution.

By using lean processes and warehouse management systems, employees become familiar with standardised processes and procedures to increase efficiency, lower production costs, and eliminate production waste while working on the production line.

At Optima Warehouse Solutions we provide cost-effective warehouse solutions and software for all kinds of businesses.

Established in 2001, we focus on providing high-quality yet affordable warehouse management software systems for warehousing and logistics companies, as well as WMS solutions to other sectors such as packaging, manufacturing and e-commerce.

With excellent knowledge of the complexities of today’s busy warehousing environment means that we have developed easy-to-use yet powerful Warehouse Management Software packages that will make your warehouse more efficient.

To find out more about warehouse operations and how they can support your business, get in touch today!