Lean manufacturing is concerned with making warehouse processes as simple and productive as possible - that means no waste. Waste in a warehouse facility may manifest itself in many different ways, always resulting in wasted time and money. Here are 7 wastes in manufacturing that could be hurting your warehouse operation:
- Over-production—producing more than and/or ahead of demand. The result of producing to speculative (forecast) demand or supposed economic batches, it is visible as excessive, time consuming and costly material stores.
- Waiting—whether for the previous, current or next step in the process, the result is wasted worker time. The goal is to maximize the utilization and/or efficiency of operatives first and machines second.
- Transportation—unnecessary transport of materials, WIP (work in progress) and finished goods adds zero value to the product. Instead of improving transportation processes and systems, lean thinking first favors minimizing or eliminating them.
- Non-value added processing—doing more work than is necessary, according to the ‘value’ principle – often due to poor plant layout or misguided attempts to recover expensive machinery costs. Lean essentially advocates using simpler, lower cost tools, cell manufacturing and/or combining steps, where possible.
- Unnecessary motion—relating to people bending, stretching or walking too far, due primarily to the inappropriate location (and potentially also design) of tools, parts inventories and fixtures. Instead of simply automating wasted motion, lean requires that the operations themselves be improved.
- Excess inventory—specifically referring to WIP between operations and purchased parts within the supply chain, frequently resulting from overproduction, usually due to excessively large batch manufacturing or processes with long cycle times – leading in turn to cost and clutter. This waste also creates additional waste in the form of increased lead-times, excessive floor space requirements, extra handling, high interest charges, avoidable people movement and paperwork and, again, the associated costs.
- Defects—producing defective parts or products results in rework and scrap and invariably adds significantly to manufacturing costs. Lean focuses on preventing the occurrence of defects, rather than improving
In any warehouse operation there will be some sort of waste. Only an ideal operation could have zero waste, it can only exist in a perfect world. With that said, we can always aspire to eliminate more waste and get closer to the ideal.
The investment to make if you want to tackle all 7 wastes is in asset management. By implementing an RFID based asset management system businesses can increase their inventory accuracy to 99.99% which is the first step to reducing waste. Now with the ability to always track and know how much inventory there is and where it is, many of the issues that cause waste can be eliminated.
If you're interested in learning more in an RFID based asset management solution for your warehouse make sure to download our free "20 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Implementing RFID" eBook. It will give you a crucial base for understanding RFID technology so that you can make your next decision in the most informed way.