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How to Use Lean Warehousing and Logistics Principles to Manage Waste

Warehouse managers are no stranger to the impact of waste. Whether they tackle wasted journeys, picks or miles, the key objective of any warehouse manager is to optimise warehouse operations to minimise waste in every area of the operation, very often through Lean principles.

Those same Lean principles can and should apply to your warehouse waste management program. Because as your warehouse scales to meet demand, so too does cardboard, plastic, and other packaging waste. After all, waste could be the difference between extra padding in your profit margins and even facing a loss despite working through a time of fast-paced growth.

Here’s how you can use lean principles to manage recycling waste and see improvements across your warehouse.

1. Reduce Excess Across the Board

The first step for minimising waste is optimising the rest of your core operations.

You can increase efficiencies across your warehouse and simultaneously minimise waste and recycling by getting rid of the eight wastes of manufacturing. In warehousing, these organisational waste elimination techniques look like:

  • Removing defects and defective processes
  • Reducing excess inventory
  • Employing route optimisation to reduce movement
  • Replacing manual processes with automation
  • Eliminating waiting

When you reduce these significant areas of excess, you’ll see recycling waste shrink simultaneously. For example, reducing excess inventory frees up space, minimises losses, and eliminates recycling waste all at the same time.

2. Scaling Waste Removal to Meet Demand

Your second task is to create scalable systems for waste management.

For warehousing, this can often mean adjusting processes seasonally and building agility into your program.

For example, if you run a retail warehouse, you might scale up your existing waste management program during the holiday period. Because you’ll receive and distribute more inventory, you will have more cardboard recycling waste to manage. As a result, you might rent one or more extra waste and recycling balers during this period to cope with demand.

Other ways to scale waste removal include:

  • Changing the pick-up or removal schedule to account for more/less waste
  • Building time into shifts or schedules to account for waste management
  • Tracking your waste management data (e.g., number of lifts, costs, weight, types of wase) to predict next year’s needs

LSM can help you scale your waste management according to your needs. We offer the option to rent baler machines, which makes it easier to increase your capacity during peak periods and reduce it again for true agility in waste management.

3. Lean into New Technology for Waste Optimisation

Waste management can and will benefit from the same technological advances enjoyed by the rest of warehouse operations. Many of these technologies are already available and allow for new cost efficiencies, particularly in large warehouses.

A grand example of technology-focused waste management is IBM’s Artificial Intelligence project for Hera, a utility waste in Italy. AI helps Hera recover as much waste as possible to return it to the circular economy by using software to identify waste from piles and sort it appropriately..

However, there are also many optimisation opportunities available for smaller operations. For example, Internet of Things-enabled smart waste monitoring through sensors can help you measure the waste you generate, so you can see current fill levels and predictive fill levels, which makes it easier to manage removal.

The same IoT, AI, and automation technologies can be deployed across your warehouse to generate seamless workflow, increased scalability, improved forecasting, and stellar cost control.

Lean Waste Management Improves Warehousing

As your warehouse operations grow and change, the volume, type, and impact of recycling waste will transform, too. Applying Lean principles to waste management can help you reduce general and recycling waste, like cardboard recycling, and run a more efficient waste management program.

LSM can help you transform your warehouse cardboard recycling into increased profits. Get in touch to learn more about our waste balers and compactors and how they can be a vital part of your warehouse management system.

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As the UK’s leading waste baler specialist, LSM supplies shops, garden centres, hotels,
hardware stores, farm shops etc. with waste solutions for various recyclable materials
including cardboard, paper and plastics etc.