Your industry might be more competitive than ever. This requires you to polish various operations, including your warehouse management. There are many ways to do so, but lean warehouse management might be your best option.
In this entry, we’ll explain what lean warehouse management involves and how to implement it in your environment.
- What is Lean Warehouse Management?
- Why Is Lean Warehouse Management so Important?
- 10 Tips for Lean Warehouse Management
- Top Tech for Lean Warehouse Management
- Talk to a Warehousing Consultant
What Is Lean Warehouse Management?
Lean warehouse management is a warehousing strategy that reduces the use of valuable resources without diminishing efficiency or product quality. The goal of this approach is to help you accomplish more with less. By eliminating procedures that require your resources but don’t add extra value, you can take your warehouse organization to the next level.
There are several ways to apply this strategy in your enterprise, but most companies leverage the 5-S tactic: Sorting, Straightening, Shining, Standardization, and Sustaining. Performed correctly, these actions allow you to recognize and maintain the activities that improve your warehouse management.
Why Is Lean Warehouse Management so Important?
Staying competitive requires you to keep abreast of the latest trends. One of these trends is lean warehouse management. Chances are, most of your competitors have already implemented the solution. If you follow suit, you can reap the following benefits:
- Streamlining your order management
- Lowering your operational expenses
- Responding better to short lead times and expediting delivery
- Meeting same or next-day deliveries more easily
- Allowing your company to cope with the rising cost of labor more effectively
- Handling any space shortage and problems caused by fluctuating demands
- Standardizing your workflows to shorten the order processing time
- Streamlining your asset utilization and eliminating inefficient material handling
- Inviting warehouse innovation and new inventory ideas to promote constant improvement
Top 10 Tips and Hacks to Produce a Lean Warehouse
Implementing lean warehouse management in your facility may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. The following tips will help make the process a lot easier:
Tip No. 1 – Make Sure Your Employees Are Aware of the Upcoming Changes
It would be best if you informed your team of any plans you may have for your warehouse, including the application of lean management. This is essential if you want to expedite the implementation. Therefore, arrange a meeting where you’ll notify your employees about your plans.
Tip No. 2 – Create a Robust Timeline or Schedule
Any project requires strict timelines. The same goes for lean warehouse management. By adding a schedule to your implementation, you’ll know when you need to complete certain activities. This helps ensure you apply the strategy efficiently.
Tip No. 3 – Run Implementation Through Your Managers
You don’t have to be responsible for every step of the implementation process. Your managers should help you execute your lean warehouse program so that you can focus on other strategic activities. Therefore, bring them up to speed with all the requirements. Once you provide all the insights, they can take over whenever necessary.
Tip No. 4 – Sort
This is where you begin the 5-S model, and the first item on your list is Sort. It means you should organize (sort) the warehouse efficiently, which might be the most significant improvement you can make in your facility. You can take numerous approaches to sorting, such as breaking down warehouse operations into bite-sized tasks. As a result, you’ll be able to reduce the number of steps necessary to complete each step, which helps ensure your warehouse operates efficiently.
Tip No. 5 – Straighten
After you’ve narrowed down your warehouse operation, you want to rearrange your inventory, equipment, and storage. Your employees should need as little time as possible to stay on top of each aspect. Therefore, take a good look at each segment and consolidate it to find ways you can streamline the operations.
Tip No. 6 – Shine
Shine stands for the maintenance you need to perform to have a lean and fully functional warehouse. A dirty warehouse with outdated equipment and poor upkeep can’t operate at peak efficiency. To avoid this scenario, set up a maintenance schedule. It should include monthly or quarterly cleaning to make sure your systems work correctly, and your facility is in great shape.
Tip No. 7 – Standardize
Standardization boils down to setting up harmonized training and systems so all your workers are well-versed in your processes. That’s why communication is vital throughout your implementation. Coupled with tutorials and training, it guarantees your warehouse activities are standardized. Try to extend this principle to your onboarding process to reduce the time it takes for recruits to adopt your warehousing management strategy.
Tip No. 8 – Sustain
The final S of the 5S model is Sustain. It’s one of the trickiest stages to implement since it’s easy to fall back to old processes after standardization due to several factors.
For example, you might not have managed your documentation properly. In that case, your employees no longer have a strict standard to follow, which can lead to compliance issues and other problems. You may have also laid off a few employees between your standardization and sustenance phases. The higher turnover rate results in more training time, preventing you from focusing fully on the sustenance stage.
The best way to reap the benefits of the 5S strategy is to leverage the videos and documents set up in the previous stages. Use them to train your current staff and recruits to eliminate unpleasant surprises down the line. You could also schedule regular audits to make sure your team has acquired the best practices from lean warehouse management.
Tip No. 9 – Incorporate Cross-docking
Whether you’re a startup or a well-established company, you shouldn’t ignore some of the most helpful logistics strategies out there – cross-docking. This process refers to unloading your products from vehicles and immediately loading them onto outbound trucks. The principle is simple – you keep the waiting time between the arrival of goods and shipment to their final destination to a minimum.
You can look at cross-docking and just-in-time shipping, which is paramount when you want to ship fresh products. The sooner you can get foods and other perishable items on the market, the more satisfied your customers will be.
Tip No. 10 – Don’t Neglect Safety
Safety is one of the most important aspects of any business. It should permeate all parts of your enterprise, including your warehouse management.
You may think you already have ideal work conditions that keep your team from suffering injuries. However, have you analyzed your warehouse from a safety perspective?
If not, here are a few safety considerations for your facility:
- Have you created a robust emergency plan? Does your plan allow you to inform your employees of evacuation procedures and emergency exits? Is your team familiar with the locations of water hoses and fire extinguishers?
- How often do you review the design and layout of your warehouse? Does the facility have fully functional and unobstructed racking, escape routes, stairs, ramps, and walkways?
- When was the last time you conducted risk assessments? Do you plan on performing your next risk assessment within various tasks and positions of your employees?
- Do you track all your employees and visitors while they’re in the warehouse?
If you can implement the above practices, you’ll ensure a safer workplace. This translates into fewer accidents, leading to higher productivity, warehouse profitability, and efficient operations. You’re less likely to fall behind shipping dates, which also results in greater customer satisfaction.
Top Tech to Help Create Lean Warehouse Management
Applying the principles of lean warehouse management is practically impossible without cutting-edge devices. Below are some of the best hi-tech gadgets you can use to facilitate your lean warehouse management:
1. Zebra TC73 Handheld Mobile Computer
The TC73 is perfect for warehouse settings due to its rugged design. It can withstand drops from about 10 feet. It also has an IP68 and IP65 rating that verifies the computer’s sealed design, making it waterproof and dustproof.
Another sturdy part of the TC73 is the screen. It features super-robust Gorilla Glass to protect the display from scratches and shattering.
Complementing heavy-duty design is industry-leading display technology. It’s a six-inch screen that reduces the need for scrolling. Furthermore, the display offers crisp viewing whether you’re outdoors, indoors, or in rainy conditions. You can navigate your warehouse inventory and enter items with your finger or stylus, making it highly versatile.
The battery is also terrific. It has a long lifespan and a sealed design to prevent dust, moisture, and other elements from damaging the electric components. You can choose from four battery options: Bluetooth lower energy (BLE), wireless charge, extended capacity, and standard. Plus, the phone lets you identify unhealthy batteries in your pool using the PowerPrecision+ feature.
Finally, the TC73 is powered by LifeGuard software. It maximizes warehouse productivity and minimizes downtime due to sluggish operations. It delivers your OS updates regularly, allowing you to stay up to date with the latest security standards. You can also upgrade to new versions whenever you want and access in-depth reports to manage your devices.
2. Honeywell ScanPal EDA61K Handheld Computer
The Honeywell ScanPal EDA61K is a terrific handheld computer that lets you automate your warehouse workflows in outdoor and indoor environments. Whether you’re in a distribution center or warehouse of hazardous materials, this gadget can make all the difference.
One of the most impressive features of the device is the chipset. You get a super-fast Qualcomm 1.8 GHz octa-core model to help you run multiple tasks without sluggish performance. There’s also a decent amount of RAM to further speed up your operations.
When capturing data in your warehouse, you can use the built-in scanner. It can process information anywhere between a couple of inches to 50 feet away. This long-rage scanner works with barcodes and images due to its high-quality 13-megapixel camera.
Furthermore, the computer comes with a high-capacity battery. It’s a 7,000mAh swappable Li-Ion model that can last for more than 24 hours on a single charge.
You can choose from two versions of the ScanPal EDA61K. The original version has a 34-key keypad, whereas the upgraded model features 47 keys.
Lastly, the handheld device is resistant to falls from considerable heights. It’s undergone extreme tests that featured drops from approximately five feet onto concrete. This gives you peace of mind, knowing you can comfortably use the gadget in virtually any warehouse without worrying about scratches or chips.
3. DT Research DT301Y Rugged Tablet
The DT Research DT301Y Rugged Table integrates a bright 10.1-inch screen and high-performance Intel Core processor in a great-looking package. It features a CAC/smart card reader that can open a wide variety of files, which is essential in warehouses.
You can hardly ask for more in terms of durability from this device. It has the Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) certification and an IP65 rating. This means the tablet is less likely to suffer irreparable damage from falls and bumps.
Another great thing about the device is the high-capacity battery. It can last for multiple shifts, enabling your warehouse workers to scan without interruptions. Once the battery is on its last legs, you can switch to a different model.
4. Janam HT1
The Janam HT1 is a slim yet robust handheld computer. It looks fantastic and features state-of-the-art performance to facilitate your warehouse organization and productivity. There’s a Snapdragon octa-core chipset to skyrocket your efficiency, whereas the 8,200mAh battery gives you enough power for extended shifts.
Accessibility is also a strong suit of this device. It has 4G LTE connectivity, NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi, enabling your warehouse team to access critical information on the go. Moreover, it features MIL-STD-810G military-grade certification and an IP67 rating to ensure robust protection from extreme temperatures, vibrations, drops, dust, and water.
If you’re interested in Janam HT1 or other gadgets on this list, reach out to Energy Electronics. We offer comprehensive tech guidance to help you choose the right device for your warehouse.
Talk to a Warehousing Consultant
The faster you apply lean warehouse management to your enterprise, the sooner you’ll be able to gain an edge over your competitors. If you need help implementing this strategy, contact Energy Electronics. We have experienced warehousing consultants who can guide you every step of the way.