A national food ingredient distributor, Chicago-based Batory Foods had recently opened a 700,000sf flagship DC in Wilmington, Ill., when it realized that its manual yard management processes were in serious need of an upgrade. Over the past few years, Batory Foods had grown from being a Midwest-focused company to one that is focused on national growth.
As part of that growth, the company began offering 3PL services for one of its current suppliers, which also wanted to outsource its DC operations (from the same facility). “A part of that involved the import of a large volume of dairy product containers from New Zealand,” says Daryl Fisher, Director of Supply Chain Solutions and Analytics. “That meant we had to manage the container locations, maintain accurate inventory, and then share that information with our partners.”
The scope of that undertaking increased with the introduction of the FSMA regulations, which put an extra onus on yard security and Batory Foods’ ability to track driver activities and validate their identifications. “We were doing things manually, with a clipboard and a driver sign-in sheet in the office,” says Fisher. “We didn’t have to check driver IDs; it was a pretty simple process.”
A Cloud-Based Digital Yard Solution
Wanting to streamline its processes and be FSMA-compliant, Batory Foods went in search of a yard management system (YMS) that would allow it to automatically and accurately track containers in the yard, and that would give its partners a cloud-based system for improved visibility. It also wanted to be able to track drivers coming in and out of the yard. “We wanted to know exactly who was onsite,” says Fisher, “and then be able to confirm their identities as they drove out of the gate.”
After developing an RFP, Batory Foods enlisted individuals from its operations, IT, warehousing, and logistics groups to evaluate different YMS. “We did some research, visited several sites, and spoke to our peers that were already using a YMS,” says Fisher. “From that process, we selected PINC’s YMS.”
Integrating with All Yard Activities
Currently in use at Batory Foods’ new 700,000sf facility, which encompasses a warehouse and 300 yard container spots, that YMS integrates with all yard activities and allows the company to identify “hot loads,” expedite the movement of those loads, track driver activity, and improve overall customer service. Using its new driver kiosk, Batory Foods can automatically validate drivers, capture order or container numbers, and then direct the drivers to the appropriate location in the yard.
“We’re using RFID for locating and tracking containers/trailers,” says Fisher. “When a driver is at the kiosk and we’ve been able to identify him and the load that he’s carrying, he takes an RFID from the dispenser there and scans it on the kiosk and then pulls into the right yard.” And as that driver is navigating the yard, the system is automatically scanning his location and recording that location on the map in real-time.”
Fisher says Batory Foods is also gaining some unexpected benefits from its yard management system, including several value-added features like being able to quickly identify drivers who have already been onsite (to avoid having to re-register them) and the expediting of urgent loads for easier cross-docking and fast unloading. “And with outbound loads, if a driver is picking something up that we already have staged in the warehouse,” says Fisher, “he’ll be directed immediately to go to the closest door to where that inventory is staged to make that loading process easier.”