What does it mean to have standardization in a warehouse?
Without sacrificing flexibility, standardization is a lean principle that asks that processes are easily repeatable, easy to train, easy to improve upon. With less variety, less customization is required. Who customizes? People do; so standardization means better organization and less labor.
What areas of the warehouse can be standardized?
Standardization can apply to:
- Unit loads or container sizes
- Equipment like forklifts, pallet racking and RF scanners
- Work processes and training
Look for a theme in your warehouse. Apply the 80-20 rule to your current operational conditions. Can you find commonality in what you already doing?
Standardize your unit loads
Do you receive loads of varying sizes? By investing time into repalletizing the loads onto a standard sized pallet, will that ultimately reduce your handling costs? Perhaps doing this will allow you to use pallet jacks and reach trucks together. Now a forklift with a fork positioners are no longer needed allowing for reduced training costs, easier rental sourcing and lower equipment costs.
Standardize your equipment
By reducing the number of different brands of lift trucks in your operation, are you able to reduce?
- training costs
- maintenance cost
- equipment sourcing costs
By having familiar controls between lift trucks, do you increase the speed by which lift truck operators can be cross-trained? Does this reduce the opportunity for accidents in your facility? Is there a cost savings for workers comp insurance premiums as a result?
By using stand up counter-balanced forklifts (versus sitdowns), will that shorten the training time for an operator to move from a reach truck working in the aisles to working on a counterbalanced forklift on the dock?
Standardize your warehousing processes
Is there a warehouse worker that has a better method and a higher level of productivity. By implementing one method across the entire team, you can ensure the high productivity levels are consistent throughout the operation.
Once a baseline for productivity is established, new innovation can be discovered and implemented.
How have you implemented standardization in your warehouse operation? What worked? What didn’t work? Comment below.