How a modern yard management system (YMS) can help companies improve operational efficiency, increase supply chain visibility, and optimize their assets.
As the technological workhorses for the area outside of the four walls of the warehouse or DC, yard management systems (YMS) do everything from tracking the total number of units in the yard, figuring out how many are loaded versus empty, and determining how long it takes to load or unload a trailer, among other tasks. Highly sophisticated, this solution ultimately helps companies make better decisions, move inventory faster, and save money.
These “wins” are all critical in a world where customers want a high volume of small orders within very short timeframes. Add in the driver shortage, rising costs of transportation, and trucking capacity issues to the mix, and the end result is a “perfect storm” of challenges that a YMS can help solve.
“As transportation costs and capacity issues increase, yard management presents opportunities to improve operational efficiency through increased visibility and process optimization,” Gartner analysts Bart De Muynck and Simon Tunstall point out in their new Market Guide for Yard Management, which helps shippers better understand the yard management market and and its offerings.
“Historically, companies have not spent a lot of time improving yard processes or investing in yard technologies,” the Gartner analysts write. “Instead, companies focus on optimizing yard assets, cutting driver detention time, and adjusting priorities according to receiving and shipping volumes.”
No More Black Holes
A supply chain component that’s often referred to as a “black hole,” where visibility is minimal and decisions are largely based on guesswork, the yard is the place where employees stumble on inventory that they never knew existed. It’s also home to some nasty surprises, like reefers whose fuel tanks ran out weeks earlier, leaving behind entire loads of spoiled inventory.
“Companies have put considerable effort into optimizing their processes in the warehouse and in transportation. Operations in the yard that connect transportation and, specifically, the truck to the warehouse, for both inbound and outbound operations, have in many cases been left behind or ignored,” Gartner notes. “Often, the yard operations perform in a very manual and non-technology-driven way.”
Reducing Costs and Optimizing Operations
By providing visibility over all of the vehicles that are out in the yard, the stock they’re carrying, and the status of that stock, YMS helps companies reduce storage, removal, and disposal costs (for the spoiled reefer, for example), while allowing valuable human capital to be allocated to more critical tasks.
In its market guide, which identifies PINC as a specialized YMS suite vendor, Gartner also notes that:
Bridging the Gap
In modern, large, high-volume logistics operations, the yard has become an extension of the warehouse in terms of synchronizing the yard with dock doors for shipping and receiving, and in using the yard as a supplementary storage location. Coordinating and managing the flow and movement of vehicles and trailers throughout the yard (including the alignment of cross-docking activities) have become important activities for logistics operations.
Using an IoT sensor network, autonomous drones, real-time GPS, RFID, and optical and cellular technology, for example, the PINC Yard Management System provides real-time visibility and orchestration of assets, including tractors, trailers, finished vehicles, pallets, and other high-value inventory items. It also optimizes yard operations with real-time tracking of dock doors, trailers, and parking slots, and is suitable for both small and large enterprises.
To supply chain leaders who are responsible for technology and solutions for supply chain and operations, Gartner offers these recommendations:
Keeping the Wheels Turning
As transportation lead times shrink and transportation costs go up, more companies will be looking to increase the efficiencies in the yard, where extra time spent managing assets is both unproductive and costly. “More regulated hours of service (HOS) and an increasing driver shortage have a negative impact on the total number of hours trucks are on the road at any given point,” Gartner notes.
“Consequently, it becomes even more critical for shippers to find time savings elsewhere in their supply chains,” it continues. “Boosting throughput by using a YMS means trucks spend more minutes with their wheels turning.”
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