What is Lean Warehouse Management?

Simply put, Lean Warehouse Management is reducing waste (wasted resources, time, effort, etc.) while maintaining productivity. This technique focuses on changing operations and processes to accomplish that aim. To get the full effect, you’ll need the right tools, tools like Zangerine. We’ll get to that later.

Some of the benefits of lean management include:

  • Maximizing storage space
  • Simplifying movement of inventory
  • Optimizing inventory management
  • Minimizing bottlenecks
  • Simplifying all processes


Value Stream Mapping

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) functions as a major tool for implementing Lean Warehouse Management principles. VSM consists of describing the processes of the warehouse via a flowchart, including all transfers of information and additions of value. The goal of VSM is to show where waste is produced and productivity lessened. You can create a VSM in 8 steps.

With Value Stream Mapping, you will be able to identify choke-points, bottlenecks, and places where you can streamline processes.


For a simple example of VSM in a warehouse think of a diagram that shows the flow from suppliers to the warehouse to customers.Within the warehouse section, show the flow of goods from process to process. It’s a simplification, but if you can master VSM, you can really demonstrate instances of possible waste.


The 5 S’s

To help create a leaner warehouse, use the 5 S’s. Kyle Krug of Legacy Supply Chain Services explains that the 5 S’s are simply a technique to “make problems visible,” which is also the purpose of Lean Warehouse Management. With the 5 S’s you can implement Lean Warehouse Management easily.

The 5 S’s are:

    • Sort: Look critically at your sorting system; classify and categorize products correctly.
    • Set: Arrange inventory so critical distances are minimized (i.e. most common/important stock is stored closest to shipping)
  • Shine: Create a culture of cleanliness and order. This leads directly to fast processes.
  • Standardize: Establish standard operating procedures for everything. Standardize the flow of information and what gets communicated. 
  • Sustain: Reevaluate, reiterate, and implement continuous improvement.


Instituting a Lean Warehouse Management system comes with challenges, as all meaningful  changes do. Here are some of the most common issues:

Employee Training Level: To implement lean warehouse processes correctly, your employees will have to be well trained and educated on the principles and benefits of lean management in the warehouse. They’ll likely have to learn how to use higher-level tech, as well as learn better organization and communication techniques.

Technological Optimizations: You’ll likely have to use smart systems for lean processes. Simple spreadsheets won’t work anymore—use smart tools (like the ones offered by Zangerine). What we saw on the old tv show The Jetsons is becoming more like reality everyday.

Cultural Shift: Being “lean” will cause a shift in the culture of your warehouse, and some employees and leaders won’t hop on board. You’ll have to prove the value and get them to buy in for this management-style to work.


What Lean Warehouse Management Is Not

Lean Warehouse Management is not a magical way to reduce costs. It is a system of identifying waste, simplifying processes and generating more revenue as a result. To get the benefits of lean management, create a Value Stream Map and implement the 5 S’s. To get the full effect, you’ll need the right tools for your warehouse. For those tools, explore how Zangerine can help your warehouse. With all these tools and the principles of lean warehouse management you can streamline processes, eliminate waste and get your profits back..