What is Kaizen? Why is it Important?

What is Kaizen? Why is it Important?

Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy that emphasizes continuous improvement and forms the basis of modern manufacturing and supply chains, among other systems across the world.

The Kaizen philosophy asserts that organizational improvements are a result of small, incremental improvements on an almost daily basis, and require the contribution of all employees at all levels, from CEOs to managers to field staff.


What Does Kaizen Mean?

The word ‘Kaizen’ is derived from 2 words – Kai (change) and Zen (better). Together, the word Kaizen translates to ‘change for better’. It loosely translates to the word ‘improvement’.

However, Kaizen is more than just a word; it’s a business philosophy. It strongly endorses continuous improvement across the organization on a routine basis as the driving force of massive improvements in productivity, efficiency, employee satisfaction, customer satisfaction, elimination of waste, and other aspects of organizational performance.


Why Small Changes?

The Kaizen philosophy urges that every employee within an organization has a stake in its success, and therefore, they all should strive to make improvements routinely at all times. The changes need not necessarily be slow. Also, “small” does not mean insignificant. The Kaizen philosophy recognizes that small changes each day can accumulate together to create massive improvements in the future.


Why is Kaizen Important?

Kaizen is more than an abstract philosophy on self-improvement and continuous improvement. It is a time-tested and proven business philosophy that was developed in Japan to bring revolutionary improvements to the country’s manufacturing industry and supply chains.

Traditionally, Kaizen focuses on 5 guiding principles, which are known as Five S, as described below:


1.     “Seiri” Means “Sort Out”

The Seiri principle urges employees to organize their tasks and prioritize them. The tasks must be sorted into different groups and labeled ‘Necessary’, ‘Critical’, ‘Most Important’, ‘Useless’, and so on. Throw away everything useless.


2.     “Seition” Means “Set in Order”

Seition is all about efficiency. Reduce wastage of time and energy by organizing everything in a manner that makes it easy to retrieve and use when required.


3.     “Seiso” Means “Shine”

Seiso is all about cleaning the workplace and decluttering it. With a “everyone is a janitor” principle, Seiso inspires employees to maintain a clean work area that makes a good impression and, more importantly, keeps the workplace safe, lean, and free from errors.


4.     “Seiketsu” Means “Standardize”

Seiketsu is the standardization of the processes involved in Seiri, Seition, and Seiso. The establishment of standard processes and schedules for executing Seiri, Seition, and Seiso routinely ensure that they are done promptly.


5.     “Shitsuke” Means “Self-discipline”

Shitsuke is about developing the processes that will enable an employee to execute the other four S, without external stimulus. In other words, it is about inculcating a proactive approach towards self-improvement.


Final Thoughts

As may be evident by now, Kaizen focuses on self-improvement as the path towards organizational improvement. Small but consistent positive changes in oneself and organizational activities are critical to producing paradigm shifts in organizational effectiveness and efficiency.

How to Improve Order Picking

How to Improve Order Picking

Warehouse management is easy and tricky at the same time. The stakes are high, and as such, all the logistics have to be implemented the right way otherwise face the consequences. The traditional warehouse operations have combined with today’s home delivery and online shopping creating a harsh environment for warehouse operators. One of the logistics in mind here is order picking. Order picking determines the customers’ satisfaction and the warehouse’s organization. The accuracy of the process saves time and cost as well as avoiding costly inventory errors.  This is easy with the automated systems that can track orders from the moment they are placed. However, there is still some warehouse that does both the manual and machine order picking hence the need to improve the process. Lucky for you, regardless of the order picking method, we have compiled some of the ways you can adjust the process, and they are;

Analyzing product velocity

If a product is fast-moving, why then is it slotted way back? The order pickers will waste a lot of time if they have to make several trips. Even in writing, it doesn’t seem logical. Analyzing product velocity will hence save time by exposing items that should be near the shipping dock for easy access thereby optimizing the process. Such a system helps the warehouse to know the inventory that is needed most as well.

Proper inventory slotting

Order picking need not be complicated and organizing inventory is the first step to ensuring accuracy. By putting similar products together, as well as most popular ones, it makes it easy to pick orders in any method. Whether you are using zone picking, batch picking or wave picking, if the inventory has been organized strategically, the error chances are significantly reduced.

What are the picking routes?

If order pickers aren’t sure where products are, they may circle back several times leading to time wastage. Establishing picking routes based on the information obtained from the slotting and product velocity analysis helps take the guesswork out and improves accuracy. This can apply to automatic order picking as they have selected the right items in the least amount of time.

Keeping inventory data

Order picking is reliant on accurate inventory data. The data should be accurate and up-to-date. It makes identifying products fast, and less stressing. Keeping updated inventory data also assists the warehouse from committing themselves to deliver items that are out of stock and adds to the visibility of other items. Also, it shines a light on inventory that isn’t being used saving the warehouse space and money.

Using error data

Optimizing warehouse operation and order picking process will require analysis of error data. This reduces the chance of ever repeating the same mistakes.  It keeps the order pickers on their toes as well since this data can be used to evaluate their accuracy. However, it is difficult to eliminate order picking errors but at least this way, you can minimize mistakes that can cost the warehouse tons of resources correcting them.


Thanks to the digital era, man and machine can work together to improve the order picking process. Warehouse automation is the way to go if you want to improve your efficiency. Software and robotics are being used to control the production lines. At the same time, they can be used to advance order picking as it becomes more efficient and fast. Embracing automation has led to many warehouses fulfilling their word for quick deliveries, and there have been minimal errors.

When customers get the right delivery, the credibility of your warehouse is rated highly.  Using these few ways to improve order picking will help achieve this.

Three Tips to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

Three Tips to Improve Warehouse Efficiency

Timely deliveries and meeting customers’ demands are important in helping maximize the supply chain processes. It all starts with how well you manage your warehouse operations.  A poor warehouse management system will lead to huge economic losses. This is not what we are after. So we have to manage all aspects of the warehouse to ensure that at each level, we reduce cost and improve the warehouse’s efficiency.

Also, today’s rise in e-commerce demands that the warehouse is organized to fulfill customers needs. The increase in e-commerce creates pressure to the warehouse as customers expect quick home deliveries. Therefore, warehouses have to do all they can not to fail their customers otherwise lose their business. From processing the orders to loading them in trucks, their efficiency will be vital in avoiding mistakes and any delays. To achieve this, we manage the labor, freight, and inventory.

Managing labor

Even though we incorporate modern technology in the warehouse, there will still be employees to take care of picking and packaging. You will need to motivate them to double their efforts with the little time they have to do their day’s work. Offering incentive pay is a guaranteed way to boost morale and improve productivity.

Also, you will need highly trained frontline managers to manage warehouse operations on the ground. Having highly trained frontline managers will require them to know the warehouse workings, the customer’s and vendors’ needs as well as other aspects of the warehouse. That said, you can hire qualified managers or offer them training. There are several resources online, and locally that will assist frontline managers to become better.

Managing freight

If not well maintained, it dramatically affects the warehouse efficiency.  The terms of the agreement and laid out policies shouldn’t compromise on product packaging and timely deliveries. Consultants can help to make sure inbound and outbound freight aren’t the source of profits going down the drain. The consultant you turn to should be experienced and know the laws surrounding freight management and negotiations. The moment freight issues are taken care of; the warehouse operations can run smoothly improving warehouse efficiency.

Managing inventory

Inventory plays a significant role in supply chain management as well as warehouse efficiency. Overstocking and dead stock usually cost you more than you think. Consequently, it would be prudent to put in place measures to control inventory.

One way of doing so is using third-party fulfillment. Through the option, one can concentrate on other areas of warehouse management as the third-party fulfillment will ensure that the inventory meets the order throughput. Also, it helps increase storage hence offering more opportunities for growth.


Managing these three aspects of the warehouse should be easy especially now that technology has become part and parcel of the whole warehouse processes. Through technology, warehouse employees can be able to deliver and produce more products, and at the same time, it is easy to track your inventory to avoid cases of overstocking and overhead stock.

This is an excellent time to manage their logistics as a way of improving warehouse efficiency since they have the opportunity to use the latest software as well as modern technology to move things along. Consequently, customers will be satisfied with the fast and accurate operations following the warehouse’s services.

All in all, warehouse efficiency is the key to reducing cost and improving productivity.  Therefore, the warehouse management system you opt for should be geared towards increasing efficiency. And a system that will manage the three aspects, labor, inventory and freight, is a viable one. Thus consider the above when formulating your system.


What is Intra-Logistics?

What is Intra-Logistics?

Supply chain management is core to majority businesses. The way they handle the system determines their operating costs, customer service, financial position, and inventory management. Therefore, the supply chain logistics have to be strategized and implemented in a manner that businesses will realize the benefits of good governance. This has always been the case until recently when a new word was coined to help improve the supply chain. This word is none other than intra-logistics. Heard of it? There are even intra-logistic companies that have come up over the years.

Unfortunately, not many know the purpose of intra-logistics in warehouses and supply chain. Researching ‘what is intra-logistics?’ doesn’t help either as many become even more confused. Hopefully after this article, you will be able to explain intra-logistics in full.

So what is intralogistics?

Straight to the point, intralogistics is the management and optimization of internal production and distribution processes. To be more precise, it deals with how to efficiently handle warehouse operations. This may include, information flow, material handling, and how to integrate with modern technologies. It is not new to us that industries will embrace technological advancements and new methods to improve their businesses.

Therefore, applying intralogistics to internal processes within the walls of a fulfillment center and distribution center reduces costs, minimizes inventory, increases product time to be shipped to market and improves employees’ safety. Also, integrating these solutions in the supply chain helps to enhance flexibility.

Each day, companies are realizing these benefits and are implementing intra-logistics solutions in their daily operations. From process engineering, systems design and implementation, database design, project management, remote monitoring to warehouse automation, intra-logistics are being used to optimize and manage the processes.

For example, industries are integrating robotics and automation techniques to simplify the work of their staff and improve the quality and production of goods. Further, these techniques and systems are taking information processing to a whole new level, and they are improving connectivity, intelligence, and how fast processes move along.

Based on this example, intra-logistics finds a new definition as the art of optimizing, integrating automating, and managing the logistical flow of information and material goods within the walls of a fulfillment or distribution center. (According to invata.com)

In general, intra-logistics is all about the internal controls between information flow and material handling. Its benefits are quite fulfilling in the supply chain management answering why it has created a buzz in many industries.

That is about the size of it. Intra-logistics is a simple concept which hopefully you have understood.

5 Forklift Safety Tips for a Warehouse Manager

5 Forklift Safety Tips for a Warehouse Manager

Moving your inventory manually is tiresome and can take a lot of time. But with the use of forklifts, the job has been simplified. Warehouse management can, therefore, relocate their labor somewhere else or save a little money by cutting down on the labor force. However, forklifts, no matter how effective they are, they present some safety concerns that if not addressed can become a liability. Warehouses and any other businesses that use these machines should observe forklift safety. Proper use of the forklifts ensures employee safety as well as inventory safety.

While warehouses may have taken measures to ensure their employees are insured as well as the inventory, it is still logical to make the warehouse a safe environment for everyone. If employees feel safe, there is nothing preventing them from doing a perfect job therefore forklift safety and other measures acts as a good motivation. Also, safety should be emphasized as much as you underscore the need for speed in the warehouse operations. Below are five safety tips that should be observed;

Inspect the forklift

Firstly, you must make sure that the machine you are operating is up to standards. You do not want it breaking down in the middle of moving inventory. That could have ugly consequences to the driver and other workers around the warehouse. It could be carrying a heavy load when the break down occurs or even worse, it loses its brakes, and the operator has no control. So, check the forklift and do the necessary repairs. The shift supervisor should know of any problems and adhere to the safety rules. Also, the forklift should be fuelled and packed carefully when not in use. The inspection of the forklift should be a daily thing and never assume that its fine from yesterday routine check.

The operator must be qualified

Avoid putting your employees in danger by hiring qualified forklift operators. The operator must provide proof of certification and be assessed. The operator should wear the seat belt and the proper operating attire. After all, this is all part of training. A refresher course can be offered to ensure the qualification is completed to a certain standard. The training should be per the OSHA regulations which have been formulated to maximize safety in the workplace. Experience is a factor to consider since the operator knows how to conduct themselves.

Pay attention during operation

There is a lot of traffic in the warehouse. The pedestrians can be harmed if they bump into the forklifts. Another source of danger is loads falling off the fork. Paying attention is hence an critical forklift safety tip. It ensures you do not run into other forklifts and employees. If the load obstructs your path, have some help finding your way or drive in reverse.

Be considerate to others

Forklift safety dictates you put others in mind. That means no fast moves, sudden turns and always alert people you are around. Educating other employees is also another way to prevent accidents. That is, asking them to stand or walk at a safe distance from the forks.

Watch the load

Avoid carrying more than the forklift can handle. Do not exceed the limit all in the name of efficiency and completing the job fast. Also, ensure the load is stable to prevent it from falling off affecting the forklift’s balance and increasing the risk of an accident. When putting it on the shelves, be careful.

Forklift safety allows smooth operations. Watching out for your employees is your number one priority, and these forklift safety tips will come in handy.

Three Ways to Eliminate Waste in Your Warehouse

Three Ways to Eliminate Waste in Your Warehouse

A lot of work goes into managing a warehouse. From the time a product is produced to the moment, it reaches the customer, there are many processes involved, and these processes are the core of the warehouse organization. Warehouse processes are not immune to waste. The waste is usually the source of many warehouses failing to meet their goals. Therefore the reasonable thing to do is to try and eliminate waste.

The term used is lean manufacturing. It deals with handling waste from all corners of the warehouse. Be it on labor or inventory, lean manufacturing aids to enhance warehouse performance.  To start with, why don’t you try eliminating waste by;

Checking your inventory

The supply chain depends on warehouse inventory to maintain the flow.

For this reason, warehouses will produce and stock more inventory to ensure that there are no shortages.  It’s hard to believe that the inventory can be a source of waste. How this occurs is when there is overhead inventory.

The sales should determine the inventory. The production process, therefore, requires you utilize the sales data to minimize inventory overhead. Work to fulfill the short-term sales as you control the inventory.

Avoiding overproduction

Following inventory overhead, the next area to eliminate waste in the production process. Overproducing has its extra expenses.  The labor required may need to double to meet the deadline. In doing so, you will be forced to budget for the additional employees.  Overproduction also causes storage troubles. You will have to find extra space for the inventory which is difficult especially if it is slow moving.

The way to go about reducing overproduction is to cut the working hours accordingly and embrace lean batching. Also, do not overproduce so that you keep people working. If the demand doesn’t require an overproduction, do not do it otherwise you will have to face all the problems that come with this action.

Avoiding downtime

Time is a precious resource in warehouse management and other businesses. Halting a process for whatever reason, be it for additional inspection or waiting for parts, is another warehouse waste. This is what is referred to as the downtime. The downtime is eventually reflected in the overall quality of the product. You may miss a production step when trying to recover the time lost thereby compromising on quality. Also, the warehouse may need to spend a little more to reach the target on time.

Since customers are the ones who will suffer the consequences of downtime, it is essential to ensure that if it is unavoidable, it doesn’t affect the quality of products. Thus, eliminating downtime is the right thing to do and making early preparations assists warehouses to cut this time as they plan to ensure the warehouse processes are not affected by any inconveniences.

Taking into account these three wastes, the next thing to do is to use other methods of waste elimination to evaluate your warehouse operations. The evaluation, guided by lean manufacturing and six sigma methods of waste elimination, exposes the areas undermining smooth warehouse operations and those that need improving to achieve efficiency at low cost. Warehouse waste delays the processes affects the quality and the storage of the inventory.

If you want to improve quality, eliminate waste, reduce cost and reduce the lead times, this is how. Avoid downtimes, overproduction, and inventory overhead. In addition to these three ways, it is essential to use the lean manufacturing process to eliminate other kinds of waste in the overall warehouse operations.