2nd Edition


Transform your warehouse into a competitive advantage

Jeff Lem, P.MM

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“This book is a true eye-opener and full of insights. It dives into

several case studies of how you could grow and optimize your cash

cycle by improving turns… this book is a must-read.”

Sam Gupta

Host, WBSRocks

“This book is a reality check. He points out all your inefficiencies and

makes you strive for improvements. Today, our warehouse is not only

a source of pride for our company but more importantly a competitive advantage.”

Herbert Ngo

Executive Vice President, Accolade Group

“No matter where your business is on its growth cycle, this book

should be your bible for Warehouse Management.”

Kim Worrall

President and lead VISUAL Specialist, Back To Basics

“If you’re in warehousing or want to learn more about warehousing

it’s well worth your time.”

Damon Pistulka

Co-Founder & Managing Director, Exit Your Way

Meet The Author

Jeff Lem, BBA, MBA, P.MM,

has helped thousands of warehouses become more efficient over a 30-year career. 

Jeff’s background includes a professional materials management designation from the Materials Handling & Management Society (MHMS) of Ontario, where he serves as Director of Education. And he also volunteers on the Canadian Visual Manufacturing User Group steering committee.

Jeff resides in Markham, Ontario, and has three grown children with his wife Mary. When he’s not helping companies with their inventory practices, Jeff can be found on his road bike training for his next cycling adventure.

Connect with Jeff on Linkedin

From warehouse hell
to competitive advantage​

Manufacturers take their warehouses for granted, treating them like a household refrigerator. No one questions the importance of a fridge and how it contributes to the well-being and health of the household, yet no one thinks twice about its care and maintenance, let alone managing the contents. This laissez-faire attitude results in a great deal of waste: 25% of the contents of the average American fridge are thrown away. Warehouses are on a similar trajectory, wasting 23% annually.

Warehouses aren’t an issue until you can’t find what you need, or the write-offs start becoming too big. Materials management doesn’t come naturally to manufacturers, who only view inventory as a cost to be minimized. This blind spot hinders manufacturers from scaling their material handling processes and ultimately impacts profitable growth.
This book shows how to achieve an efficient warehouse and, more importantly, transform it into a competitive advantage. Based on the author’s 30+ years of inventory management experience, you’ll find case studies, easy to implement ideas, and tools you can use right away to start transforming your warehouse.

Jeff runs an industry changing technology firm,
Portable Intelligence Inc.

Portable Intelligence is delivering the next generation of warehouse management systems using technology based on indoor maps of your facility. 

By correlating location metrics with standard production data, they can identify areas for improvement and increase efficiency gains. 

Portable Intelligence provides integrated solutions that improve warehouse agility and inventory accuracy.

About this Book

This book was written for small to medium-sized manufacturers currently using an ERP or Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP). Pairing your existing system with a WMS will allow you to scale your material handling processes which will, in turn, enable you to grow your business.

This book contains nine chapters, each of which can stand on its own. Topics run the gamut from setting up your facility to receiving, issuing raw materials, issuing returns, label generation, picking, and shipping.


Is Your Warehouse a Fridge?

In this chapter, we explore the similarities between the waste in a refrigerator and a warehouse. This chapter ends with the seven stages in the journey from made to order to too much inventory.


Inbound Processes

This is arguably the most critical area from a materials management perspective. This chapter covers the art and science of inbounding goods and includes required setups in your ERP as well as inbounding best practices.




This chapter is your inventory “user manual” and includes inventory care and maintenance. We’ll cover warehouse design, racking, cycle counts, and the all-important inventory turns statistic, including why it’s more than just an accounting number.


The Ten Steps to Competitive Advantage

In this chapter, we put it all together in the form of an action plan for becoming a best practices warehouse and transforming your warehouse into a competitive advantage.



I conclude the book with a call to action and the top five pitfalls leading to project failure. The right way is not always the easiest way. To paraphrase Robert Frost, this is the road less traveled by, and that will make all the difference.


Creating a Materials Management Program

This chapter covers the pieces that make up your materials management program, beginning with the four principles of materials management. These principles represent the core beliefs upon which we’ve designed and deployed our materials management solutions. From there, we’ll review the foundational elements of your program: people, processes, and technology.



I’m sure this chapter will be of significant interest to most manufacturers. This chapter takes you on a tour of a production facility, covering three main areas: engineering masters and bills of materials, issuing, and finished goods.


Outbound Processes

This chapter includes a full discussion on picking, packing, and shipping, along with a revealing look at how outbound can get so messy. The chapter ends with managing and containing all of the custom demands of outbound, including how you can access an untapped resource in your warehouse.


The Smart Warehouse

We’ll take a brief look at the future of materials management. The big surprise won’t be technological, per se, but rather how we’re going to work and interact with each other

The strategies in this book are developed from work with clients like...


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