Lean Manufacturing

Lean Sigma Supply Chain

By Jon Miller Published on August 31st, 2007

Lean Sigma Supply Chain is a blog full of thoughtful, pithy posts as well as the occasional deep dive into lean logistics or lean distribution know-how. Today’s post about 50 things to do to free up warehouse space is a grab bag of useful ideas.
Some of these things address symptoms while others root address causes. It seems like it could be very dangerous to do these things out of sequence. For example, getting rid of the obsolete and slow moving inventory would seem to come before nearly anything else, as 5S needs to come very shortly after Lean awareness training and forming teams. Redesigning the racks before creating flow, pull and reducing inventory would be muda.
Take this list of 50 ideas along, but I don’t recommend that you start your next lean sigma supply chain kaizen event by posting this list. The tough part about sharing big lists of great ideas while involving people in the kaizen process is that humans are biologically wired to resist change. We do not always welcome ideas or theories that “aren’t practiced around here.”
Making these improvements work requires drawing these ideas out of people through agreement on what is value and what is waste. When there is agreement and recognition of waste, people will come up with these 50 ideas, and more, on their own. People support what they create, so kaizen takes root.
Cross referencing the 7 types of waste against these 50 things to do to free up warehouse space (try it with your class, it’s a good exercise), most of them seem to address reducing transportation, motion, overproduction, inventory and waiting. Reduction of processing waste appears quite frequently with the redesign of the racking, shelving and storing infrastructure as well as the streamlining of both the method and the products and packaging itself.
There is surprising little on reducing correction or defects on this list of 50. Unless the warehouse operation is error-free, taking away space lost to checking, repacking or returns should be a major focus.
Oh, and space or no space, safety first.

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