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Yard labor challenges: Turning to technology not your human resources' team might be the answer

Rafael Granato
by Rafael Granato on Jul 12, 2017 1:47:22 PM


Labor is expensive. It’s also getting harder and harder to find good professionals 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 human resources at the problems instead of applying technology, applications, and automation. And 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 team members 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 team to work more efficiently and your facility to reduce yard management expenses in 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 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.

This is 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 a team member 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. Take this step and you’ll also 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.   

For more information, download PINC's Yard Management Solution Brief.

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Rafael Granato
Written by Rafael Granato
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