Warehousing and Logistics – Quality at the Source
In warehousing and logistics the goal is minimizing cost and fulfillment times, and initiating quality at the source is key to fulfill these goals. How to begin is the first question that must be answered. To develop a quality at the source implementation map, draw from the “perfect order” in logistics management. The perfect order is described in five rights:
- Right part
- Right quantity
- Right time
- Right quality
- Right cost
With this definition in mind, we need to ensure that we have equality at the source or mistake-proof methods in place to realize the perfect order. For the perfect supplier order to come about in lean manufacturing environment, we need to ensure that suppliers are shipping the right parts in the right quantity and condition at the right time to the right place and at the right cost. Quality at the source teaches us to detect errors as quickly as possible. In warehousing and logistics, this means that we need to have mistake-proofing tools in place for all critical processes. In practice, this means that we should look at processes as far up the supply chain as possible. The goal is to detect and resolve issues prior to their becoming a burden on the organization.
Improving Improvement Skills in Warehousing and Logistics
It is fair to say that the concept and principles of continuous improvement are not completely understood by many organizations. In fact, in multiple surveys, continuous improvement is one of the key deficiencies among warehousing and logistics when serving their customers. In other words, logistic providers need to improve their improvement skills. Customers also need to improve their internal improvement capabilities. Why is it such a struggle to develop and sustain a culture of continuous improvement? The answer to this question is not simple, and as is the case with most difficult questions such as:
- What is continuous improvement so hard to understand and implement?
- How can we develop the lean culture that embraces and drives continuous improvement in warehousing and logistics?
It is surprising that many warehousing and logistics companies do not have formal processes for improvement. In the absence of formal processes, continuous improvement is non-existent. Any organization that embraces continuous improvement will see and act on these changing dynamics, and like a good ferry operator, will make small incremental adjustments to the course.
Bridging the Gap
In order to improve warehousing and logistics there needs to be a model that provides a common language that all members can use to articulate the value and work plan of any specific improvement initiatives. The ultimate goal is to be able to communicate where we are today, where we want to go, and how we will get there. In a true six sigma environment, companies will train as many as 2% of their employees and pull them out of their full time jobs to work exclusively on improvement initiatives. Significant improvement will happen when all the stakeholders recognize, understand, and believe that continuous improvement has an important place in bringing success to the organization.Share