Yard Labor Challenges: Turning To Technology, Not Your Human Resources Team, Might Be The Answer
Labor is expensive. It’s also getting harder and harder to find good logistics workers and supply chain workers right now, thanks to a recovering economy and brisk growth in certain sectors (like construction and information technology).
The average wage for a warehouse and distribution center (DC) worker is $11.82 an hour, CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly reports. “There has been speculation in recent years that businesses will be facing a chronically acute shortage of labor—especially e-commerce firms, which have experienced tremendous growth,” the Quarterly states, “and whose fulfillment centers normally employ twice as many workers as do typical warehouses and DCs. That figure spikes to four times normal during the peak holiday period.”
Paying Attention to the Yard
As a key part of any company’s logistics operations, the yard tends to be one of those places where firms elect to throw more logistics workers at problems instead of applying technology, applications, and automation. While the approach may seem logical at the time, in reality, it can quickly eat away at your company’s profitability and productivity.
“Companies tend to throw people at yard problems because, on the surface, it’s relatively less expensive to do this,” says Matt Yearling, PINC’s CEO, “versus actually fixing the problems in the first place.”
It’s time to stop the insanity and let technology not only solve the problems, but also ward off those challenges in the first place. By focusing on technology you will be able to:
- Improve processes
- Rely on information
- Gain insights not available before
- Allocate logistics workers to more “core” tasks
"Thanks to advancements in technology, including cloud computing, internet of things (IoT), drones, and mobile, the digital yard management experience is now real-time, data-driven, automated, integrated, and connected. It also provides immediate value to both warehouse and transportation operations and across the enterprise. We’ve seen that this is an important win in a distribution environment where efficiency, agility, and flexibility are a must," wrote Matt in his recent article.
Are your yards connected to the supply chain ecosystem?
Technology will enable your logistics workers to operate more efficiently. Your facility can reduce yard management expenses by 30% and increase overall yard productivity by 25%. Here are some of the benefits you can immediately reap:
- Labor Savings: Faster gate check-ins and check-outs, eliminate the need for manual yard checks, less search time for trailers by supply chain workers or yard truck drivers, and no dock delays.
- Improved Yard Truck Staffing: Increased moves per hour, productivity monitoring and comparison, and better training.
- Reduced Demurrage And/Or Detention: Better collaboration and communication with carriers and electronic documentation of all movement, alerts, and reminders.
- Reduced Shrinkage Through Visibility: Fewer incidences of spoilage, theft, and delays.
These are just a few examples of how applying technology in the yard can help reduce labor costs while increasing both visibility and productivity. So the next time you’re tempted to send logistics workers out into the yard to locate a specific trailer, check a reefer's thermostat, or see if a certain dock door is operable, turn to technology instead. You’ll alleviate one of the biggest pain points that today’s warehouse managers deal with on a daily basis: knowing where all of the yard assets are at any given time and the condition they’re in.
For more information, download PINC's Yard Management Solution Brief.