Lean road transportation – A systematic method for the improvement of road transport operations

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Villarreal, B. ; Garza-Reyes, J. ; Kumar, V. (2016)

Road transportation has become an important factor in international trade and the management of supply chains. However, this form of product logistics has generally been considered inefficient. Traditionally, practical inefficiencies of road transportation have been addressed through mathematical modelling, operations research-based methods, and simulation. This paper presents an alternative systematic approach to improve road transport operations based on lean thinking and the reduction of the seven transportation extended wastes (STEWs). To do this, the paper reviews the extant literature in the area of lean road transportation, providing a structured research definition of the application of lean thinking in road transport operations and hence guidance on the limited research conducted in this field. The systematic lean transportation method is then presented and empirically tested through a case study in a Mexican firm. The results obtained from the case study indicate that the proposed systematic lean method is an effective alternative for the improvement of road transport operations, with the number of distribution routes and distance travelled being reduced by 27% and 32% respectively. The proposed method can be used by organisations as a guide to help them improve their road transport operations. In addition, the paper’s aim is to contribute by stimulating scholars to further study the application of lean thinking and waste reduction in road transport operations.
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