Lean Logistics—Is There Such a Thing?

With so many moving parts, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly where or how a global supply chain could be streamlined. And even when staff recognizes that a process could be tightened, their leaders may question whether the improvement will be substantial enough to offset the time and expense required to make the change. As such, some shippers dismiss lean logistics as an aspirational concept—attractive, yet unattainable.

Are they right? And if not, what does it take to achieve truly lean logistics operations—and bring costs down?

Identifying waste: A matter of perspective

The unfortunate truth is, many supply chain managers are too close to their own operations or too comfortable with the status quo to spot issues that may be staring them in the face. They may also lack visibility into what managers in other regions are doing, preventing them from seeing how their function stacks up.

Bringing in outside help can provide the perspective necessary to diagnose inefficiencies and waste. A fresh pair of eyes can quickly zero in on less-than-optimal processes that staff may have simply gotten used to.

At CTSI-Global, we can also provide insights based on what has worked (or not worked) for other companies we’ve encountered over our 60+ years in the business. Here are some of the most common issues we’ve encountered:

  • A lack of automation. Cumbersome legacy systems and manual data entry waste employees’ time and create opportunities for error—further slowing supply chains down.
  • Untapped data. Without an effective process for capturing, storing, and analyzing data in a timely manner, shippers struggle to monitor and measure their efficiency accurately—and miss prime opportunities for improvement.
  • Manual freight auditing (or no auditing at all). Consistently auditing freight bills is essential for spotting unnecessary waste—but burdening the accounting department is not a sustainable option.
  • Reluctance to outsource. Some processes can be handled more efficiently and cost-effectively by a trusted partner equipped with cutting-edge technology—like CTSI-Global.

Getting lean: The building blocks of a waste-free organization

No matter how long or complex your supply chain is, lean logistics doesn’t have to be a pipedream.

The key is to focus on problem areas and make strategic changes that create significant efficiencies. From there, you can further tweak and tighten your processes to shave off those extra minutes and dollars that eat into your bottom line. But without first putting the right infrastructure in place, you might as well be strengthening the handle of a bucket that has a gaping hole in the bottom.

How to Implement Lean Logistics

Here are some essential building blocks you can put in place to support lean logistics operations:

  1. Implement a robust transportation management system (TMS). From automating manual tasks to making it easy to select carriers and optimize loads, a TMS can consistently deliver time- and cost-savings. Investing in a native TMS like CTSI-Global’s also allows for seamless customizations and integrations, helping staff avoid the trap of time-consuming workarounds—or a wasteful replacement a few years down the line.
  2. Make the most of your data. Mining your data for actionable insights on an ongoing basis can help you grow leaner over time—making it easier to identify bottlenecks, plug leaks, benchmark your organization against your competitors, and more. Choosing a TMS that comes equipped with powerful business intelligence tools can make this possible, ensuring you don’t need an experienced data scientist on staff to make sense of the information that flows through your organization.
  3. Embrace strategic outsourcing. Outsourcing logistics management doesn’t have to be yet another expense. Handled thoughtfully, it can actually save companies money—while adding value. Relying on outsourced freight audit and payment services is often the most obvious place to start, ensuring shippers aren’t paying a cent more than they need to. But in many cases, companies we work with realize they could optimize their operations by taking a variety of tasks off their staff’s plate altogether—or even by entrusting us to manage their supply chain end to end.

A lean, efficient, money-saving machine

Lean logistics isn’t just a buzzword. By building strong foundations to stand on so they can relentlessly identify and eliminate waste, shippers can make their business leaner and more profitable—and outpace their competitors.

Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Streamline your operations by contacting us today.

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