Improvement is the name of the 3rd party logistics (3PL) game — it’s all about packing faster, shipping sooner and getting products into the hands of customers faster.
Although picking robots and computerization has helped to improve production fulfillment, there’s always more that can be done. This is where the lean warehouse comes in.
The lean warehouse concept is not necessarily about keeping fewer products or hiring fewer employees, but it is more a new attempt at moving shipments out the door at the speed of your customer’s clicks. The goal is to root out waste of every kind by starting on the picking and packing floor and carefully examining every part of the system and the chain.
Lean is About Rooting Out, Eliminating Waste
By working with employees, 3PLs are finding more places to cut wasteful processes.
In fact, a good 3PL will meet regularly with their employees to get their feedback on what parts of the product fulfillment process can be simplified to make the warehouse increasingly more lean.
Sometimes, these changes can be as simple as rearranging picking bins or creating custom kits for certain customers. Other times, more complex problems like paperwork reduction have to be addressed. In the end, though, the lean warehouse is all about the 3rd party logistics company staying in touch with their employees to create an organically flowing product fulfillment machine.
A lean warehouse is a warehouse that’s constantly improving, and that’s great news for your company. As your 3PL becomes increasingly streamlined, your costs will fall, giving you an even bigger bang for your buck. If your company was already saving money by outsourcing your warehousing and fulfillment, you’ll see that over time your outsourcing costs will shrink considerably as your warehouse becomes leaner.
What if My 3PL isn’t Lean?
The unfortunate reality of pick, pack and ship is that some companies are simply not keeping up with the latest innovations in warehousing and fulfillment. If you’re outsourcing to a company that clings to the way they’ve always done things, there’s definitely room for improvement.
Moving to a new 3PL can be a stressful time, but once you’ve got all your products under the same roof again, you’ll see a huge difference between the old-fashioned warehouses and a modern lean warehouse. Products will ship faster, returns will be handled more methodically and your customers will be happier because their orders get to their doors faster. By teaming with a lean warehouse, you’re telling your customers that their happiness is what matters most to you.