Lean Logistics

A pull system with frequent, small-lot replenishment established between each of the firms and facilities along a value stream.

Let’s suppose that Firm A (a retailer) sells directly to the end customer and has been replenished by large and infrequent deliveries from Firm B (a manufacturer) based on a sales forecast. The adoption of lean logistics would involve installation of a pull signal from the retailer, as small amounts of goods are sold, to instruct the manufacturer to replenish exactly the amount sold. The manufacturer would in turn instruct its suppliers to replenish quickly the exact amount sent to the retailer, and so on all the way up the value stream.

Lean logistics requires some type of pull signal (EDI, kanban, webbased, etc.), some type of leveling device at each stage of the value stream (heijunka), some type of frequent shipment in small amounts (milk runs linking the retailer with many manufacturers and the manufacturer with many suppliers), and in many cases, various cross-docks for consolidation of loads along the replenishment loops.