Opened in 2014, the Capability Center Karlsruhe extends McKinsey & Company’s global network of capability centers to cover the topic of warehousing. At the Model Warehouse in the Capability Center, successful approaches used in lean manufacturing for decades are innovatively applied to warehousing. The center offers the opportunity to optimize typical warehouse operations, such as storage, pick and pack, and dispatch processes, and even more importantly, to build the capabilities required for running a holistic sustainable transformation in an experiential learning environment.

The Model Warehouse is mobile and can be taken anywhere

The Model Warehouse is a partnership between McKinsey & Company and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) with its leading Institute for Material Handling and Logistics (IFL). It is based in Karlsruhe, Germany, just one hour south of the Frankfurt Airport. A subsidiary of the Model Warehouse already exists at McKinsey’s MCC Atlanta in the United States. The equipment used in the Model Warehouse is mobile and, therefore, can be shipped to any other global McKinsey Capability Center or any company location to support local training. By the end of its first year, the mobile Model Warehouse had already run in San Francisco, Cambridge, Zurich, and Berlin.

The Model Warehouse offers an experiential learning environment

Using the concept of “learning by doing,” the Model Warehouse offers an experiential learning environment in which participants can apply lean warehousing theory in practice. Key components of this environment are:

  • A fictional corporate identity of an automotive spare parts company, with background information and simulated data
  • Real warehouse equipment that participants can use to pick and pack automotive spare parts
  • Detailed training materials linking hands-on experience to the theory of lean warehousing
  • Customized templates to track performance during the hands-on sessions and support subsequent root-cause analysis

The lean approach helps capture the untapped improvement opportunities in warehousing

Warehouses are often an overlooked part of the global supply chain with regard to significant improvement potential. Lean warehousing aims to capture these improvement opportunities. The concept of lean warehousing stems from lean manufacturing, which originates from the world-famous Toyota Production System. Lean warehousing enables simultaneous cost reduction as well as service and quality improvements. For example, in order to increase productivity and ultimately lower costs, sources of waste, variability, and inflexibility are systematically identified in warehouse operations. Improvement ideas are developed in a structured approach and implemented to eliminate these sources and sustainably increase performance.

From lean warehousing awareness to full-scale transformation support – everything is possible

Customized trainings for different audiences and purposes are offered at the Model Warehouse. The scope ranges from creating awareness of lean warehousing among senior executives to in-depth training of change agents for a large-scale warehouse transformation program. Dedicated training supports buyers of logistics services in their procurement process and negotiations. Typically, trainings are 1 to 2 days and in group sizes of 5 to 15 participants. The setup of participants and timeframe can be adjusted to the specific needs of any company.

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CCK Karlsruhe


Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) Institute for Material Handling and Logistics (IFL)
Gotthard-Franz-Str. 8
76131 Karlsruhe