Working with staff to develop KPI's
4) Standardise (Seiketsu)- The fourth S is standardising best practice in your warehouse.
All RF units and PCs were standardised. PCs were selected based on ease of use and colour (black).
The following process was established:
When orders are received from the client, they update the Warehouse Management System (WMS) and are ready for picking.
Warehouse staff pick up their RF unit and log on. Pickers select order pick, and the system directs them to the first pick location in the pick path needed for that order.
Picker scans, picks, checks, scans and moves on to the next location. At the end of the order, the RF asks for the number of cartons or pallets and, when updated, allows the process to be completed and labels and consignment notes to print.
When the order is complete, it is automatically sent to the clients FTP mailbox, ready for invoice confirmation. When the confirmation is completed the invoice (or delivery note) prints in the warehouse and is attached to the order ready for dispatch.
Menus are specific for each function to assist staff with their functions. Pickers can see the pick menu, receiving the receipt menu and dispatch sees the information for dispatch. The warehouse manager and customer service were able to see all information based on their security and access level.
Receiving requires items to be booked in and a pallet ID attached to all inbound items. This was then used for put-a-way, replenishment and picking, as items move around the warehouse.
Stock takes, cycle counting and returns to the client are all managed via the RF units and the pallet ID labels.
5) Sustain (Shitsuke) - This is by far the most difficult S to implement and achieve.
Human nature is to resist change and more than a few organisations have found themselves with a dirty, cluttered warehouse just a few months after attempting to implement 5S. The tendency is to return to the status quo and the comfort zone of the old way of doing things. Sustain focuses on defining a new status quo and standard of warehouse organisation.
Being a new implementation with new staff there is no old way of doing things. With the removal of paperwork and the need to use RF units to perform tasks in the warehouse the status quo is the process.
Upon completion of the 5S process, warehouse staff were motivated by the lack of fuss and ease of performing their tasks. They were also enjoying the recognition they received for a job well done.
All KPI's were still being exceeded after 6 months of operation. The warehouse was performing like a production line, delivering predictable and reproducible results, using 40% less labour than the client’s original warehouse.
The implementation and setup were effective from day one. More detailed work was needed on master file information, however this was an anticipated part of continuous improvement in both the client and Third Party Warehouse systems.
Many of the results are built into the process and the most difficult of the 5S process, Sustain, is now the baseline default for the warehouse.
Obviously, the Lean philosophy alone, is not enough to resolve (or pre-empt) all warehousing problems. But when combined with traditional project management skills, it is amazingly effective at transforming a warehouse into a clean and organised system that performs like a production line, delivering predictable and reproducible results with significantly less labour.
So does lean work in an organic environment like warehousing? Based on this lean warehousing implementation and the KPI's, the answer is a resounding Yes!