Lean Six Sigma represents "a real change in the way the marketplace thinks about quality within the supply chain," says Abernathy. The initiative brings together the best elements of the quality movement and Six Sigma's strict attention to errors.
“Within transportation management,” Abernathy says, “there’s a real need for elimination of waste and more efficient processes supported by technology.” Transplace has five or six employees in black-belt training at any given time. The exercise involves pulling people off the front lines for as long as one to two years, in pursuit of Lean Six Sigma certification. In addition, the third-party logistics provider conducts its internal own training of green belts.
The elimination of waste and process errors can drive “significant” savings, Abernathy says. It has allowed Transplace to expand its business volume with the same resources.
Benefits accrue to underlying shippers as well. They can uncover opportunities for cutting out waste in the procurement process, while promoting the adoption of routing guides for choosing more efficient transportation options.
Lean Six Sigma is at least a decade old. Still, says Abernathy, many shippers have yet to reap the full benefits of the concept.
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