Post-COVID Strategy Deployment Part 4: Lean Pull Systems / Optimizations

Not only is your company being impacted by COVID-19 related labor and material shortages in logistics, but your vendors and clients are also likely feeling the stress.

Optimizing your supply chain processes improves efficiency and reduces wasted time and materials. Taking it a step further and creating a pull system approach to order fulfillment — one that’s based on lean principles — is another way to reduce waste. It helps you improve your production quality and frees you of excess inventory.

‌‌A pull system also lets you build a stronger relationship with partners since they won’t see as many unexpected delays. 

What is a Pull Strategy?

‌The pull strategy is also commonly referred to as “just-in-time” production. It involves manufacturing based on orders rather than projections. The process was established by Toyota in the 1950s after Mr. Taiichi Ohno observed stock clerks in an American grocery store. He noted that items were replenished by stock clerks only after customers had bought them. 

‌‌Mr. Ohno noticed that this customer-driven system, in which you “pull” employees into the manufacturing process based on orders, was an effective way to reduce inventory and make the supply chain more efficient. 

‌How Can a Pull Strategy Contribute to Lean Logistics?

‌The main goal of a lean logistics supply chain strategy is to reduce waste in the process. In light of materials and labor shortages, your business needs to make the best use of what you have available. If you have an abundance of excess inventory, you’re not only losing money, you have lost the work hours that went into creating those products. 

Instead of manufacturing a set number of products based on estimates of need, a pull strategy is initiated by consumption. This prevents overproduction and excess inventory and improves the flow of goods, strengthening your relationships with your partners. 


As part of a lean supply chain management strategy, your pull strategy eliminates the need to order an excess of raw materials, which are in short supply in the current market. You only need to have materials on hand that let your workers fulfill existing orders. 

‌‌A pull strategy can also improve the overall quality of your final product. Each step of production is designed to make workers more fruitful, but also more efficient. By eliminating waste in the supply chain and encouraging workers to produce based on actual demand, you can also reduce the number of defective products. 

‌‌Rather than creating a set volume of units during each shift, your workers are focused on replenishment. This engages them in the standardization process and makes it easier for managers to assess team focus and workflow. Workers understand that the supplies needed to create each unit are limited, making them more likely to create quality products with fewer resources. Additionally, your processes become more transparent to workers at all levels, and this allows everyone to focus on your main concerns.

How Incito Can Help You Implement a Pull Strategy

‌Incito’s team of consultants is experienced with each level of the supply chain. They will assess your processes and procedures to reduce physical waste, alleviate redundant processes, and identify other sources of waste in the supply chain. 

  • ‌We will help you determine customer priorities and create an action plan that makes it easier for your employees to transition to the pull approach. 
  • ‌We will use proven tools and methodologies to help you streamline your processes and empower managers to audit each process, ensuring a smooth workflow that lets you deliver high-quality products to your customers. 
  • ‌We train supply chain workers on how to apply a pull methodology to their daily responsibilities, making them more productive.
  • ‌We design supply chain procedures minimizing the risk of overproduction and excess raw materials to save you money and allow you to operate with limited supplies.

‌We will engage your managers to create buy in on the pull approach, encouraging them to work closely with their teams to improve the process.  

Take the next steps with Incito

‌Although hiccups may still arise in production, a pull strategy is more effective and lets you avoid delays and meet actual demand. It will allow you to operate more effectively in light of post-pandemic shortages without sacrificing quality and customer service. 

‌Contact Incito to learn more about the pull system and how you can apply them to your lean strategy.

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