Lean Distribution

Lean Distribution

Lean distribution is the process of designing and operating an organization’s supply chain in the most efficient possible manner so that goods flow through the process with the fewest possible touches. The cornerstone of a lean distribution process is focusing on the pull-based value chain of customer demand rather than a company’s operational capabilities.

It encompasses a continual improvement practice to minimize waste and maximize value in warehouse or distribution operations, including warehouse management, order fulfillment, and logistics operations. Warehouse automation solutions play a prominent role in executing lean processes in distribution operations, leading to greater efficiency, reduced warehouse labor needs, and increased order throughput.

The Origin of Lean Distribution

Lean distribution methodology is derived from the lean principle guidelines and management approaches created by Toyota Motor Corporation to manage its manufacturing and production process.

By extending lean principles from manufacturing and production into distribution operations, a company can maximize its cost savings, competitive edge, and profitability.

Lean Distribution Design

A lean distribution is designed to optimize the flow of products and materials as they move from the supplier to the customer. One of the most important objectives is to minimize extra steps and costs in the process by applying a series of practices such as streamlining the order fulfillment process, minimizing excess inventory levels, and optimizing picking, packing, shipping.

Lean distribution is often implemented by following a structured approach, such as the Lean Six Sigma methodology, combining lean principles with problem-solving techniques and data-driven analysis. Planning is built around a team-based approach in which employees across different functional areas of the company work together to identify and address problems and inefficiencies within the distribution and logistics process and create an optimized warehouse automation design plan.

Blog: Cut Labor & Increase Profitability with Proven Warehouse Automation Solutions

Overall, lean distribution has proven to be a successful methodology to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and boost productivity within the supply chain. It is a widely accepted practice used in industries around the world.

Lean Principles

There are several key lean principles, which include:

  • Value: Maximizing the value delivered to the end customer and identifying and eliminating processes that do not add value.
  • Value Stream: Taking an end-to-end view of the problems and solutions to optimize the value stream from the supplier to the end customer and eliminating unnecessary steps or activities.
  • Flow: Creating a smooth and continuous flow of materials and products through production to minimize delays and disruptions.
  • Pull: Based on a pull-based production system triggered by customer demand rather than a predetermined production schedule.
  • Perfection: Continuously improving processes and eliminating waste, with the goal of achieving perfection in the production process.

Additional principles include basing all decisions on facts, fostering a culture of action, and basing actions on the three actuals of people, place, and process.

Consult with Warehouse Automation Experts

Numina Group, an industry-leading independent systems integrator specializing in warehouse automation, has over 35 years of experience developing, designing, and implementing advanced warehouse automation software and material handling equipment for distribution operations to improve order fulfillment efficiency.

Our team works in partnership with clients to evaluate and define process improvements and the right blend of warehouse automation material handling technology to deliver a rapid ROI.

Learn More

Blog: Road Map to Lean Optimized Distribution Processes
Blog: Lean Six Sigma Meets Warehouse Automation Design: A Winning Combination
Video Case Study: Cold Chain 3PL Achieves 2X Productivity Increase with Warehouse Automation
Video Case Study: OTC Drug and Personal Care Products Provider Cuts Order Fulfillment Labor Costs 60%

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