The Skinny on Lean Logistics


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 BY: RAJIV SAXENA, Vice President of Global Supply Chain Engineering at APL Logistics


 Risk worries have companies changing supply chain strategies.

The word “lean” has been applied to everything, from budgets we work with to the times in which we live. Unfortunately, this may have overshadowed its more positive connotation as a tool in process improvement. Although it is oftenly applied to production, it’s just as applicable to the practice of logistics – and equally beneficial as how his company discovered in 2006 when they launched a lean warehousing initiative, which yielded more than $8 million in validated savings.

An effective lean training session can take place in two to five days, according on how far in depth the company wishes to go. Just as important, team members spend much of their lean training session solving a real-life issue in the department, which means they will be ready to put their plan into action after the training is complete.

When many companies’ operations are under financial strain, any activity that can deliver swift cost savings is especially valuable, and lean is undoubtedly one such function.

The nice thing about lean is it can apply to almost any supply chain activity, including many support or peripheral functions that too often are overlooked. One of his company’s lean teams has achieved significant cost savings just by repositioning label printer. Once a lean team has been trained under an instructor’s guidance, it’s usually more than capable of identifying and executing more lean initiatives on its own. Many lean projects that have proven to be successful at one facility canoftenbe modified and replicated at another.

In a business environment with so many negative circumstances that are beyond control, lean is one of those rare tools that focuses on: the achievable, the attainable and the positive.