Over the past few years, logistics firms have figured out how to operate efficiently thanks to new and increasingly affordable technology. Now, the lean supply chain is so commonplace that it is simply the way most companies operate as a matter of course. As a result, any businesses that have not yet taken this step can follow what is now a well-traveled path that helps them ensure the success of their efforts.
Taking what other warehousing companies have learned as they try to go lean, and applying it, is becoming easier all the time, as more insights are wrung from the process, according to Supply and Demand Chain Executive. When companies first examine what a transition to a lean supply chain looks like, industry experts recommend that they look at every level of their companies as they operate right now and see what areas meet expectations and what may need a little work. The bigger the picture, the clearer the vision for where to go next.
Where to look?
Of course, there are many areas of the supply chain where logistics companies can make improvements, from how inventory is ordered and tracked to how well shipping arrangements meets their needs and how their workers physically move throughout a facility. When dealing with these issues, it's important to get down to the granular details and ensure everyone is pulling in the same direction when it comes to making lean logistics work. When everyone understands their roles in this process, from the boardroom to the warehouse floor, transition efforts are more likely to be more successful.
There are also technology-related considerations to make when examining these issues, as many companies may operate on older inventory management software platforms that don't always meet today's industry standards. To that end, more companies are now investing in smarter warehouse technology that integrates more easily across multiple platforms and lives in the cloud, according to Logistics Management. This may be especially important as the internet of things continues to proliferate across many industries and helps all corners of the warehouse become more connected and intelligent.
While automation may be a scary word in some industries, logistics firms see it as a valuable tool that augments current operations. Experts now project that nearly 3 in every 4 businesses – across all sectors – will use some form of automation by 2019, and these may be particularly helpful as it relates to making IT operations more efficient, according to the latest ISG Automation Index. When it comes to warehousing, that will typically mean giving workers better insight into the data they're already compiling, whether through mobile data collection or less cutting-edge methods. Automation will help businesses ensure all relevant information is put to its best possible use. Moreover, these benefits are only likely to increase efficiency as time goes on.
There is a "look before you leap" component to making the transition to the latest warehouse management software and a lean supply chain. However, the sooner companies can make the most informed decisions possible about what they need to adopt, the better off they'll be when it comes to hitting the ground running and meeting their potential.