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In any industry, the important thing to do is to start with searching for waste. First understand the The 8 Wastes and then start looking for them. Often the search doesn’t take too long to find waste!

GE Appliances is one organization that has applied Lean Six Sigma within their logistics and warehouse operations across the globe.

Here are some of the opportunities to remove waste that are often seen in logistics and warehousing:

  • Inventory: Too much inventory – how long as some of this inventory been at the warehouse? Are we receiving more product than we should? Are we holding on to it too long (aging)? These are all symptoms that waste exists. And because we have too much unnecessary inventory – that creates a lot of other waste! We have to count the inventory, store it, track it, and move it. There are costs associated with all of it!
  • Transportation: Too much movement of product (too many touches to get the product in place. It’s moved and moved again unnecessarily for whatever reason)
  • Defects: Too much damage occurring to the product (typically because we’re moving it a lot!)
  • Motion: How often are workers looking for inventory? Because, the “system” is wrong, or the product is in the wrong place, or the product is not actually there?

Once you discover the waste, then figure out how to reduce it, and start with what’s in your span of control. It’s easy to say everyone else has to improve, but more effective if we start in a place where we can be a catalyst for change.

Hope that helps!

Tracy O'Rourke

Tracy is a Managing Partner at She is also a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Instructor at UC San Diego and teaches in San Diego State University’s Lean Enterprise Program. For almost 20 years, she has helped leading organizations like Washington State, Charles Schwab and GE build problem-solving muscles.