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Incorporating Lean Principles into Small Carrier Businesses

When it comes to your business’s daily operations, determining the right processes to use is crucial. However, developing processes that work for each element of your small carrier business is something that can be time-consuming and often requires constant revision. 

You’re likely executing several tasks each day that take more time to complete than the products and benefits that you are meant to deliver. Regardless of your business’s size, as a carrier, you need to keep close tabs on your overall performance. Without the proper tools and processes in place, it’s difficult to see what areas of your business are working well and where you may need to focus on improving. 

So, how can you begin to streamline your business’s daily operations? Utilizing lean management principles alongside an intelligent transportation management system (TMS) may just be the solution to this particular challenge.

What is Lean Management?

Lean management is any set of principles meant to reduce waste and improve business quality and efficiency. A lean business model is focused on value creation and removing anything that is considered to be waste.  

What Are the Fundamentals of Lean Management Principles?

The following two items are the most important elements to consider when incorporating lean management principles into your small carrier business:

1. Eliminating Waste

Waste is anything that does not add significant value to your business or your customers. Incorporating lean management principles into your small carrier business can provide countermeasures that effectively eliminate the waste produced from production, transportation, processing and more. 

2. Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is focused on improving how processes are conducted to increase quality and save time. What is crucial to success here is that any efforts to improve remain ongoing. As new technologies, resources and business methods become available, your small carrier business should be incorporating them whenever and wherever it is possible to achieve greater efficiency. What may have worked in the past may not be the same case in your future endeavors. 

How Can a TMS Help You?

A TMS organizes and analyzes your transportation data, allowing you to:

  • Gain insight into your business’s operations to see what areas need improvement

  • Save resources like your time and money

  • Create a more valuable and satisfactory experience for your customers

  • Grow your business

How Lean Principles Can Work Alongside TMS Capabilities

Here are some ways that incorporating lean management principles into your small carrier business can work alongside a TMS’s capabilities:

1. Lean Helps With Collaboration

The first and foremost rule of incorporating lean principles is making sure that you are putting your people first. This refers to your network of employees, customers, suppliers and other businesses (including those identified as your competitors). 

Prioritizing your professional relationships will help you to better determine the waste to eliminate and keep. For example, not all downtime is waste. Sometimes, this downtime is both necessary and valuable to building stronger relationships. How you use your time to establish and maintain relationships within your TMS’s network can go a long way in determining your success as a small carrier. 

2. Lean Tests Your Operations

Lean management principles are constantly evaluating all operations to determine if they are truly adding value to a business. 

Once you begin identifying the value-creating work within your small carrier business, you will need to continue taking steps back from there. This will help you to uncover many more of the steps involved in your business’s operations. Thinking about the areas where you are wasting valuable resources like time and money can help you answer the question:

Are there other areas where my resources could be better utilized?

Taking some time to view and understand a TMS’s analysis of the operational principles you implement will help you to see improved productivity, cost savings and more, as value is delivered to your customers more consistently and efficiently. 

Find Out How Trimble Transportation Can Help You

As your business’s operations continue to grow and change over time, new challenges and trends are likely to arise. It’s up to you to respond in a way that not only helps your small carrier business to adapt, but continues to promote its future growth. An effective way to do this is to implement TMS technology alongside the lean management principles you have just read about. 

Regardless of your company’s size, Trimble Transportation is dedicated to helping you manage your business’s operations as efficiently and effectively as possible. With the help of our Innovative TMS solutions, you can better anticipate and identify challenges within your organization, and improve your operational efficiency.