Panalpina's new 'lean' business model

08 / 04 / 2014

  • Panalpina workers in Brazil

    Panalpina workers in Brazil

PANALPINA is the first global logistics company to gain accreditation for its ‘lean training’ programme.

The achievement comes two years after the company’s logistics division set out to incorporate lean manufacturing principles into its global operations.

The Lean Competency System (LCS) accreditation, developed in partnership with the UK’s Cardiff University, means that Panalpina’s in-house training programme is on a par with the university’s own world-renowned practices. 

In 2012, Panalpina’s Logistics division embarked on a quest to incorporate lean principles into its global operations. In contrast to other logistics companies, which adapt the lean approach to suit the logistics industry, Panalpina decided instead to change its own business model to adapt to lean principles.

The result is what Panalpina calls ‘real lean’.

“Panalpina has developed a whole new way of working in logistics where it operates like a manufacturer and runs its facilities like factories,” says professor Peter Hines of SA Partners, who has worked closely with the company to develop the new approach.

“The key to the success of this new way of working is involving and educating its global workforce to ensure that everyone contributes – and its training programme is at the heart of this.”

The introduction of a lean model has impacted every area of Panalpina’s work.

Recent changes range from the complete re-design of layouts and processes to increase capacity, in some cases by more than 200 per cent, to developing ways to capture and implement small improvements generated by front-line staff.

“We want our staff to challenge how we work and make suggestions – big or small – to help us constantly improve,” says Andrew Lahy, globally responsible for continuous improvement within Panalpina’s logistics division.

“By asking the simple question: ‘What can be done to make your life easier?’ we promote company-wide involvement that has quickly gained momentum.”