Transportation & Logistics

Tracking Lean Logistics Data

There’s a reason “lean logistics” has an athletic connotation. Just like training for a marathon, lean logistics takes hard work, dedication, and practice. For some companies, the concept of lean logistics may seem impossible; for others, a fully efficient system isn’t as far-fetched. Though, both of these scenarios have something in common: room for improvement. So whether you’re looking to make your logistics strategy more manageable or you simply want to upgrade your performance to stay ahead of the curve, moving toward lean logistics is a move in the right direction.

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For transportation and logistics companies, the key to lean thinking is data – knowing what logistics data sets to track and what they mean for your business.

Learning to “Think Lean”

tracking lean logistics data with transportation dashboardsFor some, lean thinking is a goal; for others, it’s a necessity. In fact, lean thinking can be traced back to Japanese auto manufacturers who needed to produce a high volume of products with limited resources. The result was simple: doing more with less. In the logistics arena, the same idea applies. By eliminating waste, logistics companies can cut unnecessary costs and increase profits, not to mention efficiency, customer satisfaction, and more.

This is what lean thinking looks like in the logistics sector:

  1. Identify Value – From the perspective of your customer, define “value.” In the logistics game, this means fast and accurate delivery of goods. In short, any shipment that isn’t timely or correct is wasteful.
  2. Map Your Process – Create a detailed map of your logistics process, and the smaller processes within it. Determine which ones contribute value and which ones do not.
  3. Customer Pull – Nothing happens upstream until someone downstream (the customer) invokes pull. This demand is what moves products through the process.
  4. Reduce Waste – This step could also be called “striving for perfection,” but since processes are rarely perfect, the true focus is reducing inefficiency.

Putting Lean Thinking & Data Together

In the example above, waste reduction is your goal. The opportunities for this happen between each step in the lean thinking process. Once you identify value, you can remove things that don’t contribute to it. Similarly, once you identify all of the processes that make up your larger strategy, you can improve the ones that detract from your lean model. Every step should build on the next, creating a cycle that moves closer and closer to a “perfect” logistics strategy.

Some logistics data sets that can help you make these assessments are:

  • Pick rate
  • Pick accuracy
  • On time shipments
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Inventory levels
  • Utilization
  • Percentage of damaged goods

While some of these may seem like no-brainers, each contributes to efficiency (or inefficiency) of your logistics plan. Driver safety, for example, can have an immediate impact on your drivers and logistics; yet, it also serves long-term benefits. According to Automotive Fleet, drivers save fuel when they observe speed limits and carefully anticipate traffic flow. Not only, does this keep drivers safe, but it also saves on fuel efficiency and reduces brake wear.

Logistic variables can be unpredictable. Things like traffic delays, rerouted traffic, and inclement weather can happen at any time. When it comes to tracking logistics data sets like these, the ones you can’t predict are just as important as the ones you can. By recording time lost to weather, traffic, and other factors, you can establish a baseline and align your expectations for the future.

Read next: How to Optimize Data Reporting

Start Tracking Logistics Data the Right Way Today

iDashboards provides intuitive data visualization and reporting for transportation and logistics companies. By deploying this data to the right people, you can bridge the gap between lean logistics as a concept and higher efficiency – and profits – for your company. To learn more about effectively tracking lean logistics data with transportation dashboards, check out iDashboards or try it free today!

How do you track data logistics? We’d love to hear about it! Comment below or hit us up on social media to start the conversation.

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Mike Soave Client Executive @iDashboards

Mike Soave is a client executive and specializes in helping companies utilize their data more efficiently through data visualizations. He graduated from Lawrence Technology University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Technology Management.

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