Matt Yearling’s articles ranked on both Logistics Viewpoints’ and Talking Logistics’ most-read article lists for 2019.
As CEO of PINC, Matt Yearling contributes thought leadership and insights to a number of industry publications every year. For 2019, he holds the distinction of being one of the top-read authors for both Logistics Viewpoints and Talking Logistics. Here’s a synopsis of his most-read articles for the year and the evergreen insights that he shared with readers:
Excess Inventory? No Problem. You Have Trailers in The Yard. (Talking Logistics)
In this article, Yearling covers how with the national warehouse vacancy rate hovering at record lows and warehouses bloated with inventory pulled in from China during 2018/2019 to get ahead of impending tariffs, companies could combine flexible storage options with advanced technology to create an end-to-end supply chain solution that works.
“Much like your neighbors use portable on-demand storage to store their household items during move-ins, move-outs, or home renovation projects,” he writes, “truck trailers in yards increasingly are being used to hold goods as mobile warehouses.”
Discussing how this trend gathered steam last year thanks to a warehouse vacancy rate of 4.3% nationally—the lowest since CBRE began tracking that data in 1989, Yearling also highlights the trade war/tariff issues and how PINC was seeing increased yard activity in its customer base and across all industry verticals.
He goes on to say that companies can get the best of both worlds—affordable storage space and high levels of customer service—by using a digital yard management system (YMS) that incorporates passive radio frequency identification (RFID) technology and real-time location systems (RTLS) to manage their yard assets.
“A digital yard management system also enhances the value of existing warehouse management systems (WMS), transportation management systems (TMS), and other systems through easy integration and the provision of real-time trailer and inventory information via web API,” Yearling says. “This allows organizations to realize additional dock productivity by expediting gate appointments and automatically triggering trailer moves to the dock based on rules from their WMS or TMS systems.”
Transportation Trends: First Autonomous Spotters, Then Autonomous Trucks. (Logistics Viewpoints)
In an in-depth look at how autonomous spotters and trucks will impact the supply chain over the next five to 10 years, Yearling discusses the growing interest in self-driving vehicles and related technologies. Focused on lessening their reliance on human drivers in the midst of a significant truck driver shortage and leveraging the capabilities of modern technology, he writes, these companies are leading a charge that one day could give autonomous vehicles a real presence on the world’s highways and byways.
“Those vehicles won’t be limited to passenger automobiles. Also making their way into the autonomous realm are trucks, buses, and yard and shuttle trucks,” Yearling says. “In my opinion, these autonomous vehicles which operate in controlled environments, such as ports, manufacturing plants, and distribution center yards will be the first to go mainstream.”
For example, ZF revealed the autonomous Terminal Yard Tractor to the world in 2018. Running defined lanes within a restricted area, the yard trucks present an easy use case for moving freight from point A to point B autonomously. An extended sensor set enables the Terminal Yard Tractor to monitor its surroundings, while the central computer – ZF ProAI – coordinates the functions of longitudinal and lateral guidance, allowing the tractor to take the trailer from the truck and autonomously maneuver it to the ramp for loading and discharging.
To run properly and operate safely, companies using an autonomous yard and shuttle trucks will lean on robust yard management systems (YMS) like PINC to orchestrate the vehicles, optimize their usage, and expedite yard operations, Yearling adds. ZF’s electrically-driven Innovation Van, for example, combines an electric powertrain with advanced autonomous technologies, using a smart algorithm that factors in customer requests in real-time, while also calculating the most efficient delivery route.
Yearling highlights some of the autonomous vehicle testings that was underway in 2019, and that included organizations like the U.S. Postal Service and Daimler Trucks, the latter of which was in the midst of testing high-automation trucks on public roads in Virginia.
“Ports and trailer yards certainly represent the best short-term opportunities for autonomous vehicles to be operational and evolve,” Yearling concludes. “These are controlled and safer commercial environments with processes in place and lots of technologies available to empower these ATs to operate to their full capacity.”
The High Cost of The One Percent Inventory Accuracy in Your Supply Chain (Logistics Viewpoints)
In an article focused on the convergence of inventory management and technology, Yearling discusses the transformation taking place in the supply chain industry, with changing customer expectations and the labor shortage creating the biggest pain points. “If you add to that the national warehouse vacancy rate hovering at record lows and warehouses bloated with inventory pulled in from China during 2018 to get ahead of impending tariffs,” says Yearling, “managing inventory effectively has become an even more challenging task.”
With over 100,000 plants and warehouses in the USA alone, inventory accuracy at distribution centers, warehouses, and plants ranges from 89% to 99%. In retail stores, this number drops to below 60%. “That’s because most of the inventory management process is still a manual activity,” Yearling points out.
“I can guarantee you that every company that runs a significant supply chain operation is plagued by inventory accuracy issues,” he continues. “It’s just the nature of the game, and a challenge that companies have historically used better forecasting, shifting safety stock levels, and enhanced order point and order quantity processes to overcome.”
Pointing out that inaccurate inventory has a significant negative impact on any product-oriented business, Yearling explains that the more accurate the inventory process, the more successful a company can become. “Managing inventory is a critical exercise that directly impacts the entire supply chain,” he explains. “Without a good inventory management approach—and the advanced technologies needed to streamline that system—companies may experience long-term profit losses and added operational complexity driven by a wide variety of inventory-related issues.”
As a solution, Yearling points readers to digital inventory solutions that leverage the power of robotics and automation to support good inventory management. “These robotics solutions allow companies, large and small, to apply autonomous drone technology, coupled with computer vision technology, artificial intelligence, RFID sensors, and cloud computing,” Yearling concludes, “to significantly improve accuracy beyond the one percent.”