Technology Trends and Selection Considerations For Yard Management Systems

gartner yard management

Top Gartner analysts say there’s no time like the present to invest in a YMS that can help you offset COVID-19 challenges and future-proof your yard.  

A valuable supply chain asset, the physical area “outside of the four walls” of the typical warehouse or distribution center (DC) is becoming a focal point for companies that are realizing the value of their yards. As part of this trend, more of those organizations are turning to technology to help them run their yards efficiently and safely.

In Yard Management Technology Trends and Selection Considerations, Gartner’s Bart De Muynck and Simon Tunstall discuss how the lack of focus and uncoordinated activities among the yard, transportation, and warehouses—all exacerbated by disruptions like COVID-19—is pushing more companies to adopt yard management technology.

Historically, the need to improve yard operations was overlooked, even where there were well-identified improvement opportunities. De Muynck and Tunstall blame this on an “overfocus” on warehouse and transportation management processes, priorities, and systems.

“Due to this overfocus on warehouse management and transportation management in isolation, there was a frequently missed opportunity to coordinate an efficient flow across all three areas,” they add. “As the impacts of COVID-19 continue to unfold and constrain warehouse and distribution center operations, supply chain leaders are renewing focus on this area.”

Who Should be Using a YMS?

The pandemic is creating longer dwell times for carriers, more congested yards and DC operations, and other inefficiencies. It effectively exposed major interruptions in today’s supply chains and the workflows that they support.

“Yards remain notoriously inefficient as companies waste time and resources searching for trailers and inventory poorly located in the yard,” the authors point out. “Lack of timely location of assets can lead to misaligned inbound processes, incomplete assembly, missed deliveries, and spoiled goods.”

Regardless of their current challenges—or how their WMS and TMS solutions are set up— Gartner says these companies should be considering a YMS:

  • Users with large fleets
  • Users with a high volume of supplier and customer shipments
  • Users who suffer yard, dock door, and throughput congestion
  • Users operating a campus of yards or who need to manage networks of “yards of yards” holistically, to effectively deploy their resources across their network

The authors say DCs and warehouses operating in a high Level 3, Level 4, or Level 5 complexity environment also have a greater need for extended components, such as YMS and advanced dock scheduling to better coordinate their workflow.

“These needs may exceed their WMS capabilities,” De Muynck and Tunstall add. “Additionally, users with significant yard operations and no WMS (i.e., manufacturing sites) should also consider [using] a YMS.”

Steps to Take Now

To prepare their warehouses, DCs, and yards for the future, Gartner says supply chain technology leaders should be taking these steps now:

  • Model yard operations across the network and review the performance of yard activities to determine opportunities for process improvements.
  • Assess the benefits of yard solutions, and the capabilities within and across warehouse management systems (WMS), transportation management systems (TMS), and YMS solutions that best address the operation’s complexity, logistics priorities, and the firm’s current portfolio of logistics solutions.
  • Review technology and market trends and use those insights to determine how you want to bridge the gap between warehouse and transportation management (and, how you can adapt to the external pressures changing these environments).

Selecting a YMS isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Supply chain leaders should grasp trends, existing capabilities, and selection criteria to support their needs, they add.

“Organizations typically understand and prioritize investment in, and use of warehouse management and transportation management solutions,” De Muynck and Tunstall continue, “while neglecting the sometimes more impactful benefits that yard management solutions offer.”

Gartner’s “Yard Management Technology Trends and Selection Considerations”, Bart de Muynck, Simon Tunstall, November 2020.

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