A lean thinking and simulation-based approach for the improvement of routing operations

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

Purpose: The improvement of routing operations performance has been of great concern for organisations. This has led to the development of alternative lean-based methods, however the literature research on the applications of lean thinking in the transportation sector is still considered rather limited. Therefore, this paper presents a lean thinking and simulation-based approach to improve the efficiency of warehousing and routing operations. \ud \ud Design/Methodology/Approach: The paper reviews the existing literature in the area of lean transportation and then presents and applies a novel approach to improve the vehicle routing operations of a Mexican firm. The proposed approach suggests the classification of wastes into those relevant to transport operations, their identification through a Transportation Value Stream Mapping (TVSM) study, and the use of the Transportation Overall Vehicle Effectiveness (TOVE) index for the measure of the overall performance of the transport operations. \ud \ud Findings: The results obtained from the case study indicate that the proposed approach is an effective alternative for the improvement of vehicle routing operations as the number of routes decreased from 30 to 22 and the distance travelled by 32%. Similarly, the average number of clients served by each route increased by 23% as well as the TOVE index increased from 6.9% to 19.3%. The TOVE component measures of vehicle performance and operating availability efficiencies also increased significantly while quality issues, in the form of number of customers not served per route, were reduced from 6 to 0. \ud \ud Originality/value: The improvement of routing operations performance has been traditionally addressed through operations research and mathematical modelling approaches. This paper presents an alternative and novel lean thinking and simulation-based approach to improve the efficiency of routing operations.
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