Most lean purists will insist that warehouses are 100% waste due to inventory levels being too high. However, we in the supply chain world understand that logistics efficiencies, contractual agreements, and even sequencing activities provide for the necessity of warehouses and distribution centers. So it’s with that mindset we have to see our warehouses as flow through centers that provide both value added and non-value added activities. Not all touches in the warehouse are value added, but some are “business value added” which means that the customer is not explicitly willing to pay for the activity but it’s necessary to accommodate our current business strategies.
Let’s hone in on that segment of non-value added activity, or waste as we’ll call it. Our job as lean practitioners inside the warehouse is twofold, 1) to perform our daily standard work and 2) to improve the business through the elimination of waste daily. To eliminate waste daily, we have to know what we’re looking for. We’re looking for the 8 wastes of warehousing.