In a previous post, we discussed the Practitioners of Lean Manufacturing often cite Warehousing, Fulfillment and Distribution as a form waste or muda, as spelled-out in the Toyota 7 Wastes. In fact, half jokingly, lean proponents have called a critical piece of internal supply chain technology – the Warehouse Management System as “Waste Management System”. But, that position is often more dogmatic than practical – Indeed, even Toyota has warehouses – several in fact – that provide replenishment of parts to their auto manufacturing plants.
Until there is pure pull up and down the supply chain, we’re going to continue to need buffer stock along the way to account for supply shocks. As a practical matter, we need Warehouses and they continue to play a critical role in Fulfillment and Distribution and in the larger Supply Chain.
Still, the goal of any Fulfillment and Distribution center is to enable quick response to the customer and highly-accelerated inventory flow, in order to cut the lead time from company to customer – a Lean Fulfillment Operation. To make sure this is accomplished, internal Fulfillment Center processes are necessary.
In general, below are the processes you’ll find in any Warehouse, Fulfillment Center, or Distribution Center:
In general, the above major Processes Paths such as Purchasing, Order Management or Order Fulfillment, Receiving, Inventory Management, and Shipping and their respective internal processes are core to any Fulfillment Operation.
Other ancillary but very important pieces of any Fulfillment Operation is Safety, Human Resources, Facilities Management, Process Engineering and Software Engineering, and Transportation Management.
In an upcoming post, we’ll discuss the metrics associate with these core Fulfillment Operation processes, entitle Fulfillment Services Metrics.