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Reducing Warehouse Waste

Five Ways to Reduce Waste in Warehouse Operations

By Erich Lawson
July 06, 2021
transitioning a family business

Lean manufacturing practices have historically revolved around manufacturing operations, but the core principles can be effectively adopted in any warehouse. One of the major objectives of the lean approach is to eliminate or severely limit the amount of waste in operations by implementing waste management practices.

Whether you’re worried about ineffective operations, unnecessary transportation or material waste, keep reading for five ways to mitigate waste and boost productivity.

1. Avoid Carrying Excess Inventory

warehouse waste

Having too much inventory on hand takes up extra space and can lead to additional waste. Adopting a lean approach with real-time supply chain visibility will allow you to more effectively manage inventory levels while meeting demand. This permits the warehouse to be more responsive to customer requests, reduce out-of-stocks and minimize costs.

Having less inventory also contributes to better efficiency and more space. A good rule of thumb is to not have more than what you will use in a period of 6 months.

2. Manage Transportation Waste

Unnecessarily moving goods and materials from one facility to another or extra trips due to inefficient planning contribute greatly to transportation waste – time, fuel, vehicle wear & tear, etc. To avoid unnecessary transportation waste, consider streamlining your supply chain and inventory processes through cloud-based technology that can be accessed at all times by the necessary personnel. Integrating these processes has the added benefit of eliminating duplicate data entries and erroneous or out-of-date information. Another option is to use a garbage compactor machine that can compact the waste size making it easier to manage and transport.

3. Mitigate Paper Waste

Following lean principles can help in making your warehouse’s paper footprint nearly a net-zero by implementing recycling and reuse practices for non-confidential documents and packaging materials. Streamlining other processes in the facility can allow employees to access work orders on their mobile devices in real-time, which can help to save time and money. Tip: An industrial shredder can be utilized to shred paper waste, condensing it while keeping sensitive information confidential.

4. Reduce Overproduction

Overproduction can be, and often is, a result of prematurely performing warehouse functions or placing orders before the materials are required. It can also occur when companies continue production that isn’t required for the sole purpose of keeping their employees working. Overproduction can be reduced by cutting down the labor hours and implementing multi-step approval processes in production with lean batching.

5. Stop Over-processing

Over-processing, like overproduction, means doing more than what is necessary, however, it is limited to the processes and not the products. It can be either having too many steps in a process or making the process overly complex. Periodically reassessing daily operations and cutting out extra steps (which can also cause confusion and mistakes) will simplify the processes without affecting quality. One way that manufacturing companies achieve this is to implement automation in lean manufacturing. It might take some time to streamline the lean manufacturing processes, but it is well worth the time and effort. By finding the correct balance between efficiency and quality, you can bet that you’ll see an increase in productivity, morale and profit.

About the Author

Erich Lawson

Erich Lawson is passionate about saving the environment through effective recycling techniques and modern innovations. He works with Compactor Management Company and writes on a variety of topics related to recycling, including tips and advice on how balers, compactors and shredders can be used to reduce industrial waste. He loves helping businesses understand how to lower their monthly garbage bills and increase revenue from recycling.

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