Have you observed a production operator stand up, look around, and walk away from her workstation to get more materials? This is a sign of a poorly-conceived logistical organization.
In that configuration, operators have to walk to the upstream process, or to a central warehouse, and look for the right materials. If they are readily available, the operator might come back with a container. But often the warehouse staff logs the request, gets the materials, and delivers a little later.
Think of all the inefficiencies in this setup:
Now let’s look at the alternative (called “point-of-use inventory” or “POU inventory”). Inventory is available close to point of use. Ideally, production operators simply have to extend their arm and pick a new component. When inventory gets a little low, an internal logistics operator notes it and delivers what is needed. (By the way, simple IT tools can help detect it and send a request to the right person, to save labor time and avoid shortages.)
People often don’t realize a few things about point-of-use inventory: