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Often neglected in the steps of progress, the management of outgoing flows is however our only real interface with the customer.


The management of incoming flows is a key in the implementation of a Lean approach. With supplies delivered late, in unsuitable packaging or not complying with the requested quality, it will be difficult to be able to optimise the company. The approach calls for a few steps in the improvements, the purpose of which is clearly to work in full collaboration with the suppliers.

1-Standardize operations

We will standardize the shipping operations first. We will follow the process in 10 steps to create the standards. We will have to standardize the operations of unloading, storage… This standardization must result in a range of work in the same way as the Mizusumashi. Some rules will be respected:

  • No empty ride: We take a fill to bring a vacuum
  • The work of the stevedores must not be synchronized with the production: contrary to the Mizusumashi, the Warehouseman is independent. The work line must be designed to ensure that the Position is not cluttered with raw materials to store.
  • The range of operations should be designed Takt Time In the same way all the other ranges.
  • The ancillary tasks: be careful to foresee in the sequence the management of the waste or the loading of the battery of the material of handling.

2 – 5S

Then we put in place the 5S Which will aim to finalise the standardization work through a better organization of the Position : redefinition of the routes, of the storage zones…. It should also be noted that the Position must be organized in order to be able to unload the trucks sideways for 2 reasons:

  • Unloading is easier
  • This will allow the returnable packing truck to be loaded at the same time as it is discharged.

We will also use it to improve the visual of the workstation : Displayed range, followed by the advance/delay…

3-Storage areas

The organization of the storage area is a crucial point in the proper organization of the Position and also to respect the ergonomic recommendations. First of all, it is necessary that each reference can have its own storage area, this to limit the search times and to optimize the surfaces.

Next, the sizing of the storage areas must be done in such a way as to have about 20% capacity reserve. This in order to cope with the changing needs of the customers.

Finally, the storage mode will depend on the type of container and the level of consumption of the same containers. We find 5 types:

Type of Container


Flow Type


Small containers on homogeneous pallets

More than one pallet between two tours

Direct picking on pallet in dynamic

Small containers on mixed pallets

I don’t care

Dynamic Rack of small containers

Wholesale containers

1 container between 2 shuttles

Rack Storage

Wholesale containers

More than 2 containers between two shuttles

Flat storage

Wholesale containers

Less than one container between two rounds

Directly on a rolling base

3-Rethinking the packaging

3.1 – Returnable Packaging

Particularly developed in the automotive sector, the principle is based on the fact that we have a certain number of packaging that runs continuously between the customer and the supplier. There are many advantages:

  • The reduction of packaging costs as they are reused and the cost is also distributed between the customer and the supplier
  • They make it possible to organize the production better by choosing the containers that suit us best.

3.2-The Repacking

The supplier must deliver to us products directly in containers near to be put on the edge of line. If not, we can think of adding a repack operation. This repacking will be justified by the gain on the handling times, the surfaces and the organization of the Position .

Sample calculation

The supplier delivers us in cardboard of 2 000 pieces with a dimension of 25 * 20 * 35. On line, we would like containers of 300 pieces for a dimension of 10 * 10 * 15. The repacking operation for a full day has a cost of 1hr, i.e. €60, which we feel is possible to do by the forklift driver if we can remove Muda in his tour.

On the other hand, the production oversupply is as follows:

  • Loss of 1 SEC per cycle due to more distant movements.
  • Loss of 5 sec every 20 cycles to discard carton.
  • Loss of about 1 sec per driver delivery cycle due to more difficult handling.

In total, we figure out the daily cost of loss of about €180, or 3 times the price of repacking.

4-Implement the culture of problem solving

Here too, problem solving is a forgotten notion: broken pallet, faulty hardware, improper material, poorly sized parcel… One often finds a culture of ” ingenuity ” with a neglected staff who has the stakes to do as it can to empty the trucks.

5-Set up the pulled flow

5.1 Kanban Suppliers

As a first step, the flow from the Kanban can be set up. It will allow to put a first step towards the change of relationship with the supplier and towards the establishment of a logic of flow drawn and increase the number of delivery.

5.2 The synchronous flow

The principle of synchronous flux is the same as the Junjo. But, where the Junjo proposes to deliver the line in the order of the sequence of need, this at the start of the stock of the company, the synchronous flow proposes to deliver the line in sequence order directly from the supplier.

This type of operation requires a high level of performance. The organization needs to be precise and the variability weak to be able to hold such constraints. There are 2 types of synchronous streams:

the coordinated flow: the production at the provider is started upon receipt of the sales order specifying the receipt sequence.
the anticipated flow: The delivery of the customer is made from the stock of finished products of the supplier and places in the exact order of the Assembly sequence

The choice of the type of synchronous flux will be mainly based on the production time of the supplier and the time of transport. Thus, if the addition of these times is greater than the time required by the customer, one will have to set up an early flow. and conversely.

6-Creating Milkrun

The Milkrun is a logistical organisation concept that highlights the interest of short collection circuits dedicated to suppliers of the same geographical area. In some cases, the setting up of the Milkrun will also require the creation of Cross-Dock.

7-Improving management methods

And finally, we will manage the area in accordance with the principles of Gemba Kanri and the Hoshin Kanri : Increasing the autonomy of the staff, its versatility and implementation of routine management.

8-Develop suppliers

The development of the provider will help solve problems at the source. In partnership with the purchasing department, the company has to work with suppliers on sharing good practices and problem solving. This goes through business visits and many exchanges to create mutual trust and set up a win-win relationship. Historically, Toyota had set up a Jishuken system.

9-Set up the SSM

Last step in setting up the just in time, SSM. As an acronym for Shared supply Management, the principle is based on the fact that the customer partially or totally disposes of the replenishment management. In other words, it is the supplier, having a real-time view of the consumptions, that manages the orders itself. The benefits are numerous and always in the logic of reducing the delays, stocks and limiting the stock failures. Two models of SSM are recognized:

  • the SSM VMI : the vendor Management Inventory acronym, this is the case where the customer fully discharges the supply to the supplier.
  • the SSM CMI : Accronyme of Co-managed Inventory, this is the case where the customer only partially assigns the responsibility of the supplies to the supplier. So the provider offers an order, but it is the client that validates it.


A. Skrudupaite, R. Jucevicius (2011) – Critical Success factors for the implementation of the synchronized production system

C. Dudouet (1996) – Economic Justification for a global logistics approach in tire flows

J. D. Hall, W. H. Hadley (1998) – An Optimizer for the kanban sizing problem

H. ISAAC, P. Volle (2014) – E-Commerce: from strategy to operational implementation

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