Lean Guiding PrinciplesThere’s a reason why the martial arts are considered an art form and a way of life, rather than just another form of combat. Victory flows not from brute force, but from a laser-like focus on self-improvement, mental discipline and economy of movement.

The martial arts emerged around 1000 BC, tools of Samurai warriors who were expected to attain the highest possible mastery of combat skills, often without weapons. One such technique, jujitsu, disables the competition by manipulating one’s opponent’s force against himself in an elegant and efficient manner. Bruce Lee, regarded as one of the most influential martial artists of all time, said it best: “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”

The philosophy of efficiency can be applied just as easily to your supply chain, where a Lean culture can deliver tremendous rewards, enabling you to whittle away at waste, streamline processes and foster continuous improvement.

Move goods and materials like a martial arts master

Want to move goods and materials like a martial arts master? Here are five keys to unlocking efficiency and driving continuous improvement in your chain:

  1. Work within a framework of standardized processes to create the optimal balance of people, technology & services
  2. Streamline your transportation and distribution network by optimizing assets, routes, service levels and operating costs.
  3. Run smart with the latest technologies. The accuracy and precision of today’s transportation technologies, whether it’s satellite communication systems, logistics planning software, or on-board communications/GPS tracking can help you make routing and scheduling more efficient.
  4. Identify opportunities to reduce costs. As fuel costs skyrocket, it pays to engage value-added services like transportation network, asset utilization and fleet rationalization analyses/studies to optimize your fleet size, driver workforce and use of common carriers.
  5. Consider offloading the complexities of hiring drivers, securing capacity and running a fleet to a partner that offers time-, money- and energy-saving tools, technologies and resources.

Running Lean doesn’t have to mean re-engineering your operation. By working with a partner that has already made the investment, you can make continuous, incremental gains in quality and efficiency with a dedicated fleet and value-added services focused on harnessing the power of LEAN.

For example, at Ryder, five Lean guiding principles drive every activity the company conducts on its own and its customers’ behalf. They are:

  • People involvement: engaging every employee to root out waste, eliminate problems and make improvements
  • Built-in quality: preventing mistakes before they happen, engineering processes to make them “mistake proof”
  • Standardization: documenting best practices and making sure they are followed
  • Short lead time: continuous flow of people, materials, equipment and process to ensure that customers receive defect-free products that are pulled through the supply chain at the right place, at the right time in the right quantity
  • Continuous improvement: understanding that no matter how well a process works, there’s room to make it better

Do you use Lean processes to streamline operations, drive continuous improvement and boost the efficiency of your supply chain? Have you found innovative ways to root out waste and run your transportation/distribution networks like a samurai?

To learn more about Lean, download our Lean Guiding Principles White Paper Series here.

Written by Steve W. Martin, Vice President of Ryder Dedicated™, East

Steve W. Martin is Vice President of Ryder Dedicated™ for the Eastern portion of the United States. As part of Ryder’s Supply Chain leadership team, Mr. Martin oversees the development of new engineering capabilities to meet the growing demand for strategic modeling and analysis. He has led the inclusion of Lean Six Sigma and process standards across Ryder and has established a talent management strategy to ensure continued education and development of Ryder’s knowledge based workers.

In addition to his leadership duties, Mr. Martin is a core member of Ryder’s Corporate Compliance Steering Committee and Ryder’s Red Cross Partnership team.