Posted July 2, 2013 by Antonio Ferraro in 5S Principles
 
 

5 Value Added Tips for a Lean Warehouse


Whether you are running an existing warehouse or you’re looking to open a new one, it is always a good time to look at implementing or improving lean concepts. When lean strategies are followed in warehouse environments it can help eliminate wasted time and energy, and improve the responsiveness of the facility as well. Many people make the mistake of thinking that because most warehouses simply hold products until they are needed that there is not much that can be done to improve efficiency. The fact is, however, that when lean strategies are implemented the entire warehouse can run much smoother and with far less waste.

free-floor-marking-guide-and-posterThe following tips can be used in virtually any warehouse to help improve the efficiency of the facility.

  1. First in First out – Whenever possible a first in first out methodology should be followed. This means that items which have been in the warehouse the longest should be the first ones to go. Of course, there are limitations on this, but when done properly it can help eliminate the length of time items are stored. It can also help to identify areas where over-ordering is done and help get to a better balance in the warehouse.
  2. Problem Solving Culture – This is essential in any warehouse because it will help lead to a long term strategy of constant improvement. Getting everyone in the facility to understand that they are responsible for identifying problems in any area and helping to come up with solutions will not only eliminate problems, but also help to empower employees.
  3. Safety – Warehouses can be quite hazardous to work in and even when accidents don’t cause injuries, they can still damage products or equipment. Focusing on safety at every level can quickly cut down on wasted time and expenses by reducing the amount of accidents which occur. Safety should always be the most important thing in any warehouse environment.
  4. Visual Workplace – Having a workplace which allows everyone in the area to quickly identify risks so they can be avoided is important. In addition to simply labeling risks with signs and other visual indicators, it is good to use visual signals for helping people know where things go and how things work. Whenever it is possible, adding to the visual workplace can help ensure people know what they are doing and how to do it safely and efficiently.
  5. Plan Do Check Act – Having regularly scheduled PDCA (plan do check act) meetings help improve the efficiency of a facility. Many warehouses will have these meetings at the beginning of each day, or even at the start of each shift. This helps to identify what needs to be done, and how it should happen. Planning things out is essential for avoiding waste and a well run PDCA meeting can be a quick and effective way to improve the way everyone works throughout the day.

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Antonio Ferraro

 
On behalf of Creative Safety Supply based in Portland, OR, I strive to provide helpful information to create safer and more efficient industrial work environments. My knowledge base focuses primarily on practices such as 5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen, and the Lean mindset. I believe in being proactive and that for positive change to happen, we must be willing to be transparent and actively seek out areas in need of improvement. An organized, safe, and well-planned work space leads to increased productivity, quality products and happier workplace. Connect with Antonio on Google+