towards a lean supply chain means eliminating waste in
three ways: reducing working capital; enhancing operational
productivity; and improving "build-in" quality and
reliability (implementing quality controls on the front end
of any process or procedure).
Here are 10 ways to get lean, according to Ian Truesdale and
Glen Clark of CEVA Logistics, a Jacksonville, Fla.-based
global logistics company :
1. Make your supply chain more compact. Optimize the flow of
goods and information through the supply chain.
plant and warehouse layouts and designs that streamline
inbound and outbound flows.
2. Reduce stock at point-of-use.
To support a flexible production schedule,
keep a variety of
part numbers on hand in the warehouse. By executing lean
logistics techniques such as sequencing and sub-assembly
you can avoid large inventory stocks and their
3. Balance the receipt and delivery of goods.
incoming and outgoing flow of material to customer demands
minimizes the amount of material stored in the supply chain,
resulting in lower costs.
4. Reduce capital expenditures by closely managing your
empty container flow. The reverse logistics process of
handling empty containers can
be complex, so it needs to be well-managed
to guarantee reliable supply and the lowest level of
damage. At the same time, a well-managed empty
container flow can significantly reduce maintenance and
container replacement costs.
5. Balance the work so your cycle time hits close to Takt
Time. Every task performed by an operator needs to fall
close to Takt Time -- the pace of production in each process
that is necessary to satisfy customer demand. This
scheduling will help ensure minimal waiting time and maximum
6. Optimize transportation routes. Employ recognized
transportation best practices to improve the
efficiency of moving goods off the production line and
into delivery. By applying concepts such as segregating
flows into small and large lots, direct dock-to-line
feeding, and combining cycles (one full against one
empty), you can avoid wasteful internal
transportation processes and optimize available resources.
7. Optimize delivery. Avoid unnecessary replenishment
through the use of Kanban and other pull systems. These
systems result in replenishment based on consumption,
keeping inventory lean.
8. Standardize warehouse processes. Implement stable and
repeatable processes, and standardize the time it takes to
perform tasks such as picking, packing, and put away.
Standardization helps the warehouse interface more
accurately and efficiently with operations outside the four
walls, such as transportation.
9. Use visual management aids for information flow.
Visual aids are an important part of tracking the
physical flow of materials in a plant or warehouse.
If everyone on the shop floor can "see"
production status, they can more easily react to peaks
10. End and correct line stoppages. Stopping the
production line is costly and often unnecessary.
When a problem arises, don't let it go and plan to
fix it later. Stop and correct the problem now. You
might temporarily slow productivity, but in the long
run recurring problems should end.