How to Operate a Lean Warehouse
A lean warehouse follows the “5S” guidelines to achieve efficiency: sort, set in order, shine, standardize and sustain.
The process occurs through organizing and cleaning the workspace systematically, as well as standardizing work practices and procedures. Each element plays a critical role:
- Sort: Sorting increases a warehouse’s usable space because it removes unneeded or unnecessary items, tools, supplies and equipment from the workplace.
- Set in order: The practice of setting things in order ensures that each work area is arranged for the greatest efficiency and convenience. Tools, supplies and the general work area should be organized to maximize productivity and reduce needless reaching or bending.
- Shine: Employees should clean their work areas at the end of every shift. By removing clutter and debris, workers will be better able to identify and resolve potential problems. This practice also improves morale because every workday begins and ends with a clean and organized workspace.
- Standardize: Successful improvements should be documented and shared, so they can become standardized throughout all aspects of the organization.
- Sustain: Each of the prior steps needs to be repeated daily for a warehouse to employ lean warehousing tactics. When the 5S’s are applied, each day will see an improvement in efficiency and productivity over the prior day.