Can you afford to not implement lean in warehouse logistics?

Recently I have written about agility and resilience in warehouse logistics. I have received some questions about lean in warehouse logistics. Some people ask, why all this talk about agile? If you implement lean you are also agile.

I could not agree more! I am truly passionate about lean and have written several articles about lean in warehouse logistics earlier. The big problem is there seems like it is very little interest in lean right now. It surprises me a lot and I don´t know why this is the case. Lean has been proven a success story in so many cases and actually have a long history with proven success. There is so many scientific reports about the benefits of lean, no one can actually argue about it.

Maybe that is the problem. It is not a new trend, a buzz-word in social media. Many organizations in warehouse logistics is young. New and young leaders that is looking for quick fixes in the hunt for lowering operational costs in their e-commerce and omni-channel. Moreover, many leaders in younger generations trust technology more than “soft” values.

Implementation of lean is nothing you can hurry or do in a few days. You need to have the right leadership and mutual trust and respect through the organization from top to bottom. For best results, you need flat organizations with great communication between leaders and staff. You want your employees to be experts on the floor who work actively with continuous improvement. They should have ownership in the processes in order to take responsibility and have a critical mindset.  

Lean suits modern warehouse logistics very well because there is many similarities with production-based flow where lean is originated. According to a McKinsey report “Lean and mean: How does your supply chain shape up?” you can reduce warehouse operations costs with 20-50% when implementing lean! How can you ignore that? I have my own experience of implementing lean that can verify the benefits of lean warehouse logistics. Therefore, I know what I am talking about.

There is a lot of focus on technology like automation, robotics, AI/ML, digital transformation etc. in warehouse logistics. However, if you want to achieve maximum impact of your tech investments you need to have the analog part in place. That means leadership and organization, the whole management part. Lean is the perfect tool for managing efficiency, quality and secure continuous improvement. The static mindset is history. Lean has its origin from a volatile production environment with on demand mindset that is perfect in a retail e-commerce or e-grocery flow for example.

I will not go into any details about lean warehouse management but I strongly advise you to read about it carefully and strongly consider implementing lean if you have not done it yet. As I wrote before this I nothing new, there is a lot of literature about lean and if you google lean warehouse management you will find a lot of great information.

Roberth Karlsson


  1. I agree , I think with the pandemic businesses have shifted their focus, lean must never be ignored to maintain the edge.

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