The Lean Beverage Warehouse Part 1

Why beverage picking productivity should not be the primary focus

by John Fleckenstein – Learn more about our contributors here

Carton Flow in Beverage Warehouse

Carton Flow in Beverage Warehouse

Typically, when discussing improving warehousing operations in the beverage industry, we tend to focus on pick productivity. In fact, for many distributors, it may be the only measure around which a layout redesign is based. To achieve smarter operations, we need to examine all of the fundamental processes, and designing a beverage warehouse in conjunction with a lean manager can help accomplish this.

As in other industries, the beverage warehouse can be broken down into four major processes: receiving, putaway, picking and loading. Additional processes may be performed in between these, but these four are the core of the operation, and in the beverage business, there is little action beyond them. Each of these processes should be measured for effectiveness via the standard operational measurements.

Additionally, effective operational management requires attention to four major metrics: safety, delivery, quality, and productivity. These are listed in order of priority. Every decision made in regards to design, redesign, daily operation and continuous improvement must ensure harmony and balance in these measurements, and the impact to each of them must be considered when choosing operational technology. A technology solution that focuses singularly on picking could skew the balance.

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3 Comments on “The Lean Beverage Warehouse Part 1

  1. Reminds me of the days when we tweaked our WMS for a bev. wholesaler to handle 75K cases a night, giving about 6 to 7 minutes to load a truck – very little buffer. It was just not just about voice picking but orchestrating the whole workflow, from slotting fwd.pick locations to replenishment and picking.

  2. Being in the education business I found your blog very informative and easy to read. I appreciated how you broke down the beverage warehouse in to four major processes. Thank you for prioritizing effective operational management requirements too. I learned a lot from your blog.

  3. It always seems counterintuitive to divert manpower from a direct job function such as selection to an indirect, support function such as loading. However, in practice, productivity loss is minimal and load accuracy and quality are often much improved.

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