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Supply chain management for the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Canada includes coordinating many complexities and intricacies. From ensuring that public utilities such as sewage and water services are running smoothly to providing community centers with all of their equipment needs, managing the inventory of the City of Vancouver can be quite a challenging ordeal.

This past week, Tina, a Senior Consultant here at Propel Solutions, was lucky enough to take a tour of the City of Vancouver Central Stores location, hosted by the American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS).

Our Top 4 Takeaways from an insiders look into the Vancouver Central Stores Warehouse:

1. Use Visual Management– When pickers are going through a warehouse looking for items, they’re keeping customers waiting and creating time loss for both parties. If you’ve created a visual workplace with a proper 5S layout, finding inventory will be quick and easy. The City of Vancouver has been in a state of transition for the past few years and had implemented a 5S warehouse system.  A 5S warehouse is an important tool that can be used in any organization; a place for everything, and everything in its place.

Visual Management with Propel Solutions

2. Create consistency of product administration for clear communication with customers – Consistency can come in many forms, whether it’s the consistency to create a 5S warehouse system and stick to it, or a naming convention for your parts and products. One of the pain points that was brought up during a discussion was a customer coming to an organization, whether it’s a municipal facility or not, and having trouble specifying what they’re looking for because there are different naming conventions from organization to organization. How do you reconcile your standards with those of your customers?  An interesting application of visual management was used at the City of Vancouver to create consistency for customers when asking for a specific product, was by having a visibility board that had each of the common parts that are required, as well as the naming convention used by the city.  These visibility boards helped to bridge the communication gap that was a pain point of city staff.

3. Ensure reliable product availability to enhance Customer Value – It’s important to customers that the products they want are readily available. The city holds inventory in all different industries, service areas, and customers. The Central Stores warehouse kept street signs, shovels, furniture, sewage pipes and fleet out of the central warehouse to make access to inventory more accessible.  One of the hosts mentioned that there are 11 “warehouses” that consist of anything from the central warehouse, to a stock cabinet in a facility theater.

4. Ensure safety protocols are clear and easy to follow – The city’s safety protocols were central to the of Vancouver Central Stores Warehouse tour. From the start, safety regulations were made clear and were followed. When the tour instructions mentioned that steel toed boots were required, visitors that did not have the proper safety gear were given temporary measures. This showed how prepared the city was for different scenarios.


Final thoughts

There were a lot of great things to see on the tour of the City of Vancouver warehouses.  As a consultant, it was great to see a lot of the practices we push to our clients being put into use.  In addition, it was nice to see a well-organized and effective warehouse system that is taking steps to continually provide value to us, as citizens of Vancouver.   A big thank you to the staff at the City of Vancouver for graciously hosting, and for APICS Vancouver for organizing a great event and tour!


Image Credit: Waiz

Questions? Contact Us

If you want to learn how to instill operational efficiency within your organization contact us at Propel Solutions today. We specialize in process optimization and have a proven track record of powerful results.

Propel Solutions 

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