Logistics Process Improvement at National Physical Laboratory

Over £1 million saved through process optimisation

Process cycle time reduced by 80%

Complete elimination of lost packages

Regained trust & confidence from the scientific community

CI Projects were faced with several challenges when undertaking the Lean Six Sigma exercise on the logistics service, but overcame them well and produced valuable outputs that enabled a significant and demonstrable service improvement. The overall result was an improvement in staff engagement, end-user engagement, process efficiency and an overall improved service that aligned to the customer’s expectations.

Robert Pearce, Contract Director

Define it

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), a world leader in scientific measurement and research, faced ongoing issues with their logistics services. Lost or delayed packages, mishandled import/export paperwork, and frustrated scientists plagued the department’s reputation. We undertook our Lean Six Sigma Review to clearly define the problem and root causes.

Improve it

We conducted a comprehensive review using the Lean Six Sigma methodology. This involved:

  • Voice of the Customer (VOC): Understanding customer needs and pain points through a series of interviews with scientists and other service users to capture direct feedback.
  • ‘As is’ process review: A deep-dive review of the current state processes.
  • Time-and-Motion study: Analysing the logistics process for inefficiencies and bottlenecks and capturing times taken to execute activities.
  • 5S Review of the logistics warehouse: A 5S Lean review of NPL’s warehouse to understand how space was being utilised and how it could be optimised.
  • Root Cause Analysis: Identifying the underlying causes of the problems.

Sustain it

Through a data-driven approach and a focus on customer needs, NPL achieved substantial cost savings, enhanced staff morale, and ultimately, ensured the smooth flow of essential scientific equipment and materials. To sustain the change, we assigned process owners and ensured ongoing controls were established. This included us supporting the leadership team with recruiting a new head of service to ensure effective ownership and control of the service.

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