Venture Global Solutions provides 3PL logistics and network optimization via a fleet of 1000 tractors, 3000 trailers, and 2500 partner carriers.
When your biggest customer starts asking you for more support and begins sending more of its business your way, you sit up and take notice. That’s exactly what Venture Global Solutions did when its business with Subaru grew from 100 trailers to 1,000 trailers. “From a yard management perspective, our existing approach wasn’t able to give us the robustness and flexibility that we needed,” says Mike Meier, president of the 3PL logistics and network optimization provider. “We started looking around for alternatives.”
The new system would not only replace a largely manual approach, but it would also incorporate advanced technology like flying drones. After looking at several Yard Management Systems (YMS), the 3PL selected the PINC YMS.
“When trailers are getting pulled at a high rate of speed, by the time you perform a yard check for 1,000 trailers, the whole yard has changed,” says Meier. “We wanted a very flexible, robust system that would give visibility, KPIs, and tracking to know exactly what parts and what containers were in which location at any given time.”
Deploying Drones in the Yard
Meier, who has previous experience in IT, says that once Venture Global Solutions selected the YMS, it assigned one “super user” to learn the software and its various capabilities inside and out. Playing an integral role in the implementation process, this super user put together a plan of action for rolling out the new software and currently leads the 3PL’s yard operation. Subaru also provided support throughout the process, says Meier, knowing that the YMS would be a “huge improvement” over the previous yard management approach.
The 3PL is also using PINC Air, the world’s first FAA approved autonomous drone for the supply chain and logistics industry. By moving the tracking process into the air, the drones execute automatic inventory checks of trailers in hard to reach locations. All trailer information captured is automatically updated into the YMS, making it easy for the yard truck or shuttle driver to promptly locate a trailer.
Once Venture Global Solutions rolls out the drones, Subaru will also be using them at its own locations (where there are no tractors or yard trucks) to perform readouts and gain better visibility over the yard activities. “We’ll also use the drones to do a good yard check and make sure we’re getting 100% accurate reads both out in our own yard,” says Meier, “and at our customer’s location.”
Plans to 2018
Since implementing its YMS in early-2017, Venture Global Solutions has been able to reduce the size of its trailer fleet (in the yard), gain better “visuals” over the vehicles that are located there, and measure key performance indicators (KPIs) for its yard drivers, tractor trailers, and other equipment.
Next year, the 3PL wants to further leverage its YMS-generated data to reduce the number of drivers in its yard while making its vehicles more efficient. “We want to take it to the next level in 2018,” says Meier. “The data doesn’t lie, and now that we have good metrics around what’s being captured—and our moves per hour, areas of efficiency, and areas in need of improvement—we can use that data to drive better business decisions.”