Logistics warehousing should be considered only as one part of the total supply chain logistics strategy. And since logistics strategy is, essentially, inventory strategy, the total logistics network must be designed around the speed and flow of that inventory. The warehousing function should be a seamless component of this network.
A logistics warehousing strategy should be lean, and should focus on the movement of the product, rather than old stop-and-go storage methods. Lean strategies plan on higher frequencies of smaller shipments, because the emphasis is on the movement of product, rather than just physical distribution. This approach is more flexible, and because it is more dynamic, it can adapt to changes in the market or customer behavior.
Older approaches that focus on stop-and-go concepts cannot adapt as readily to market fluctuations. Overproduction can become a hindrance and result in waste, which then becomes wasted revenue. Logistics warehousing should be connected as directly as possible to customer consumption, while supporting and facilitating the flow of product to that end goal. Lean approaches to warehousing makes this possible, even in the ups and downs of the global economy.
A lean approach to supply chain logistics, and consequently logistics warehousing, bases its model around customer consumption. Lean warehousing should take a customer-defined takt time as its baseline. Takt time is a variable unit of time whose length is dictated by the time needed to complete a certain task or process. This unit of time has been adopted by some lean strategists as the most appropriate unit to on which to base operational processes.
And since customer consumption can be very dynamic, logistics strategies based on this unit of takt time tend to be more flexible. To mesh lean logistics warehousing with the rest of the supply chain network, a lean approach is required from the bottom up. The logistics warehousing strategy should integrate seamlessly with the internal, or tactical, warehousing operations. It is the leaders' responsibility to make sure the warehouse operations fit together with the overall logistics plan.
Inside the warehouse, the leaders need to be knowledgeable about how their practices integrate with the supply chain. They must be aware of the end-to-end product flow and the total supply chain strategy. They should work with the floor staff to implement internal plans that create measurable results. Effective training and education can produce tangible improvement trends in operations, in areas such as labor productivity, inventory reduction, and physical resource utilization. It is the leaders' responsibility to engage with and facilitate the education and training of staff.
If implemented and executed properly, significant improvements can be had by creating a safe and organized workplace, developing standardized practices, and ensuring quality processes that prevent errors at the source. Effective warehousing means implementing internal warehousing processes and integrating the internal practices with the external warehousing strategy, which, in turn, is linked with the overall supply chain logistics strategy. A lean approach to warehousing and the supply chain reduces waste and overproduction, and maintains a dynamic and adaptable supply chain even in a fluctuating market.
Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group
LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Google+