The importance of standardization in warehouse production

One of the most common reasons for poor efficiency and quality in the warehouse production is the lack of standardization. If you don´t use best practice and make an optimal standard for every process I can ensure you will have as many ways to perform a process as you have employees. You cannot refer to common sense (I often hear that argument). Common sense is based on individual values and past experiences, common sense is unique to all people.

The best way to standardize a process is to use best practice together with your staff to find out the optimal procedure regarding quality and efficiency aspects. It is very important to listen to the staff’s arguments, they are experts in the warehouse and they are the ones who will perform the process repeatedly on a daily basis. Without the involvement of staff, standardization will not feel credible.

It is also important to document everything and make a procedure guide for each warehouse task. This ensures that new staff are constantly being taught in the same way. It’s a big job to make a procedure guide but it’s worth the time it takes. Updating it when changing processes does not take so much time.

To avoid sub-optimization and use the workforce optimally, I recommend job rotation and move resources as needed. If you do that you need staff with multi-competence and sometimes there may be long time intervals before an employee is in the same department twice. In a case like that procedure guides can be very helpful to avoid quality deviations.

Some people I met in senior positions in logistics believe that standardization is automatically done when implementing a WMS. Nothing can be more wrong. WMS is a complex environment and often you can do a task in different ways. It can have all possible consequences if you don’t know what you’re doing. I would like to say that it is even more important to standardize and document if you implement WMS

In production environments, standardization has been used for a long time, it is equally important in the warehouse environment. Standardization is also one of the most important components of lean.

Roberth Karlsson


  1. I fully disagree with the first paragraph, not with the rest.
    Let me give just one example. You would never assembly the same way a full pallet order and a lose units one, and both can be found the same day in the same warehouse.
    So, you may have several standards for the same process.
    I can refer to common sense, the less common of the senses. That’s why lean philosophy is now in the mood.
    Just one last thing. Staff may not always be right, but it is extremely important to count on them.

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