Efficiency is crucial to our business because consistent and predictable delivery is central to our customers’ ability to provide personal, relevant and timely offers. Our efficiency has long been driven by Lean Manufacturing – the process of eliminating wasted time and resources from the production process through steps like Value Stream Mapping (VSM).
Now our efficiency goals are also being driven by collaboration. In an effort to tighten workflows and find better ways to work together for the benefit of everyone involved, we have reached out to our supply chain in the first of many collaborative efforts in the form of Kaizen events.
Our partner in the first such collaborative event was King Solutions, the logistics supplier we use to move finished mail across the nation. A cross-functional team was recently assembled across all IWCO Direct and King Solutions facilities to enhance our shared postal workflows. The five-day event was held at King Solutions’ facility in Dayton, MN.
The objective of the Kaizen was to map the information and operations workflow between IWCO Direct and King Solutions, identify gaps and prioritize solutions. My colleague Bob Rosser, director of postal affairs, products and services, said the Kaizen uncovered several opportunities for increased efficiency through the standardization of our mailing and logistics operations. Through a better understanding of problems that can occur from misinformation events, the team developed best practices to achieve increased quality and efficiency in our future state.
The benefits we’ll both experience when the future state is final include:
- Earlier load planning visibility, more responsiveness and limited delays
- Immediate and consistent recognition of over, short and damaged (OS&D) issues
- Reduced idle time for pallets
- Reducing the potential for error by converting manual processes into electronic
- More timely pickups and increased delivery predictability through better communication and monitoring
- Improved output and better collaboration between teams from standardized processes
This is the first Kaizen event IWCO Direct has held with an outside vendor, and it is sure to be the first of many that will involve our suppliers in an effort to strengthen relationships and workflow processes. There is no substitute for pulling teams together to discuss and better understand our intertwined processes while working together to come up with what works best for both parties.
Bob also said that our joint future state will benefit from better, more timely and accurate information with more near real-time resolution of shipment issues. King Solutions will also see new benefits with advanced forecast information which will create more opportunities to create fuller, more efficient loads that can be dispatched more quickly. This yields more consistent and predictable delivery patterns for our clients.
The team continues to meet on a bi-weekly basis to work on the opportunities that were identified during this event. As always, we’ll keep you updated with the progress of our Lean Journey and our goals to become more efficient with help from our suppliers.
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