Developing The Lean Warehouse: Start With The Waste


The purpose of a lean warehouse is to minimize waste and enhance value in the product storage process. Some typical warehouse functions can include:

  • Receiving
  • Put-Away/Storing
  • Replenishment
  • Picking
  • Packing
  • Shipping

While all these functions may seem simple, there are many forms of waste that could, and will be apparent in each step. When analyzing the warehouse function steps, some lean principles used to eliminate the wastes and enhance values are:

  • Understanding the Voice of the Customer (VOC) and determining which activities within the warehouse truly create value and which ones are useful
  • Creating a Current state Value Stream Map of the warehouse operations to identify and separate Value Added and Non Value Added activities
  • Creating a future vision state Value Stream Map should be created with reducing the wastes in the warehouse
  • Creating a warehouse operation based on visual management and real time lean problem solving techniques
  • Reducing inventories (lowering the water level) in warehouse operations to make issues and problems more visible
  • Creating collaboration between warehousing and other functional areas
  • Performing ABC analysis of SKU DNA to understand velocity of parts within the warehouse to minimize travel time, excess motion and material movement costs
  • Taking the ABC analysis and determining a facility layout based off the data to continuously flow material in and out of the facility

Our job as lean practitioners inside the warehouse is twofold, to perform our daily standard work and to improve the business through the elimination of waste daily.

Written by Brian Moran, Industrial Engineer at LeanCor

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Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

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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.

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