As one of the world’s largest producers of food packaging and disposable dinnerware, Pactiv not only supplies food processors, but it also supplies products to the foodservice industry (such as Sysco, US Foods) and consumer brands (Walmart, Sam’s Club). Up until recently, the company had very little visibility over its yard processes, which were monitored and tracked via Excel spreadsheets.
Responsible for the flow of product, and ensuring that all spotters and shuttle drivers are operating as efficiently as possible, Chris Snow, Midwest Fleet Manager says the company’s manual yard management approach presented numerous challenges for Pactiv. Individuals often forgot to “update” the spreadsheets, or neglected to save it to the shared drive.
“Spotters would get out into the yard and spend 15 to 20 minutes looking for a trailer that we needed to unload or load quickly,” says Snow. And with 200 to 300 trailers in Pactiv’s yard at any given time, those 15- to 20-minute increments could quickly add up to hours wasted every day.
Pactiv was also challenged by high inbound trailer detention fees, namely because carrier trailers weren’t always unloaded in a timely fashion. “After three days, the carriers would start charging us trailer detention fees,” says Snow. “If you’re talking about a week, that’s an extra $100 right off the top. If you’re not keeping a close eye on it, that total can grow pretty quickly.”
Streamlining the Yard
Seeing an opportunity for some real improvements in its year, Pactiv started talking to PINC about its YMS and how it could help the company streamline its yard activities, gain efficiencies, and save money. One of the key functionalities that the company wanted was trailer location identification—a capability that would all but eliminate the need for spotters “searching the entire yard for the right trailer to move from one dock door to the next,” says Snow.
Pactiv has also benefitted from the PINC YMS’ electronic moves, which have eliminated the need for manually writing out move lists and making radio calls to spotters. “We’re sending messages right through the platform, so we no longer have to use a cell phone or a radio,” says Snow.
Inside of each spotter’s truck, a mounted Toughbook connects to the truck’s ignition for a power source. On the back of the truck, two antennas pick up the PINC RFID tag signals (the tags are mounted on the trailers) as the spotter moves about the yard. This not only helps with quick vehicle identification, but has also helped shore up the firm’s security processes. “This gives us a real-time data check as to what we have in the yard at all times.”
Since implementing its YMS, Pactiv has been able to reduce its spotting labor force by 20%, reduce the number of people needed to “shuttle” drivers back and forth between its manufacturing plants and DCs, and gained complete visibility over its yard operations.
Using its yard management system, Pactiv has a full map of its yard and identification of every trailer in that yard.
These new levels of visibility are saving Pactiv money and time on several fronts. For example, trailer detention has been reduced significantly, says Snow, “and functionalities like automated emails to carrier partners (i.e., notification to pick up a loaded trailer) have greatly improved our on-time delivery to our customers.”