Lean Manufacturing has a long history dating to the post-world war II period when these techniques were used by the Japanese. Toyota’s Production System is usually pointed to as a world-class application of these techniques. Many of these techniques can be applied to Wholesale Distribution operations.
With a focus on eliminating all activities that don’t produce value for the customer or supplier, Lean is a set of techniques that helps the distributor eliminate of any kind of waste – errors, excess inventory, processing, waiting, wasted motion, transportation and overproduction – from business processes.
From the whitepaper titled, “Are You Ready for Little Miracles” published by MCA Associate, the effort to implement lean is defined as “the conscious effort to objectively examine one’s own workplace and working environment." The goals are searching out waste, increase productivity, lowering total cost and increasing throughput. One must look for evidence of “capacity constrained resources which limit output, create unneeded inventory or manpower, or use unnecessary resources that get in the way of smooth, accurate and timely operations.”
The articles to the right are a good place to start in understanding the application of Lean to the Wholesale Distibution industry.