The term Lean Logistics (or Lean Logistics) refers to a specific industrial philosophy that involves the reorganization and improvement of internal logistics, leading to a significant increase in production.
The doctrine of lean manufacturing is of Japanese origin and encompasses a set of methods and logic aimed at identifying and eliminating all those industrial activities that do not bring value. Through this methodology, there will be a tendency to increase the flow of production and processing of finished products, satisfying the end customer immediately.
According to this ideology, any activity that can meet the parameters required by Lean Logistics will be defined as a company capable of optimizing industrial processes within the warehouse.
The simplification of activities within manufacturing plants has been one of the most coveted goals since after World War II.
Coinciding with American Fordism, the Toyota model was born in Japan. Toyotism is a system of industrial production invented by Talichi Ohno, the production manager of one of the first Toyota garages.
The whole method differs from the American method because it operates on the Just-In-Time principle, that is, producing only what is needed and in the time required. Doing so will enable smaller production batches, reducing waste and optimizing the ability to respond abruptly to market needs.
Characteristics of Lean Logistics
Customer centricity. In the current vision of the Lean model, the focus is placed on the figure of the customer. The buyer is no longer perceived as a number, but as an individual with needs and requirements that must be met. Thus, production goes to reduce inventory in the warehouse in order to be more flexible and respond to the changing needs of the buyer.
Eliminating waste. Lean Logistics therefore has as its main objective to reduce logistics costs and waste. Waste is defined as all those activities that do not generate value added to the product (or service) and, as a result, do not bring value to the customer. Examples include: excessive inventory, unnecessary processing on packaging, excess activity, and inefficiencies within the work cycle.
Once all the activities that do not add value have been determined, it becomes critical to create a new optimized production flow. It involves designing a new working method that does not involve wastefulness, but focuses on service quality.
Promoting automation. The last characteristic of lean manufacturing is definitely the incentive toward continuous improvement. In addition to organizational changes, to optimize the productivity of one’s company, one must invest in new technologies and systems.
Indeed, it is in many cases that the investment toward automation brings a significant improvement in terms of results.
Limitations and solutions for Lean Logistics
Although on a theoretical level the philosophy of lean manufacturing is correct, the practical application is not as simple as it appears. In fact, the main industrial models are still too closely tied to a static model, and it is therefore difficult to effect such a radical change as that proposed by the Lean Manufacturing model in a short period of time.
However, engaging and motivating workers through the key concepts of Lean Thinking could be a viable way forward. By guaranteeing them adequate training in order to facilitate the digitization of enterprises (Industry 4.0), it is hoped that an intervention plan will be increasingly directed toward innovative warehouse applications. The ever-increasing intervention of technology in the field of logistics will thus gradually go on to implement various production processes, reducing waste with a view to improving business performance.