Frequent readers of our blog are well aware of the benefits for adopting a yard management system (YMS), either as standalone or as a complement to their transportation management system (TMS) or warehouse management system (WMS). In their report on trends within yard management technology and selection considerations, Gartner summarizes the key use cases well:
- Process improvements (gate management, flow of goods and material in the yard, yard automation)
- Visibility (of yard operations, of trailer location, product inventory stored in the yard)
- Cost reduction (detention and demurrage expenses, dock labor)
- Carrier analysis (follow-up on carrier commitments and performance, wait time and unload time)
Even if it could be considered as subsets of above use cases, we would add based on our experience and customer’s challenges:
- Scalable and streamlined communication as automated check-in at the gate (or even before arrival) can easily be enhanced with information to the visiting drivers regarding site routines and safety instructions, tailored depending on the type of goods that is being loaded or unloaded. In unpredictable times, having the capability to rapidly adjust routines, and at scale communicate them, has for our customers been proven to be highly beneficial. Add on the complexity of drivers speaking foreign languages, something that is almost default in Europe, and you might recognize the benefits of this utilizing a YMS to communicate at scale in a, for the truck driver, relevant language.
- Safety enhancement by ensuring that everyone who is moving in your yard is aware of the site routines and safety instructions. This is not only an important mitigator for costs and poor processes, but could more importantly be a difference between life or death. Truck drivers are (at least in Sweden) one of the groups that are most prone to workplace related incidents, and especially those with fatal outcome. Putting safety ahead of process improvements, visibility and cost reductions should be a high priority and an important driver to improve reputation among carriers and overall reduce reputational risk.
To reap the benefits of a YMS, it is important to model the yard operations and the specific requirements for each site. However, there are 3 key capabilities that most logistics sites typically have and these are the ones worth focusing on in order to improve overall yard operations.
- Gate: the capability to manage access of trucks entering and leaving the yard. Depending on need and complexity, the gate can be manned or unmanned, or even fully automated. The gate passage is naturally the point in the yard management flow where check-in happens and it is recommend that the sites communicate their site routines and safety instructions at this step. Some of our customers even choose to implement knowledge checks at the end of the check-in to ensure that the driver has fully understood the instructions prior to being granted access to the yard.
- Yard: the capability to have visibility in the yard, i.e. knowing the location of trucks and trailers that need to be parked before loading or unloading. For the sites who manage “yards of yards” i.e. that have both long and short-term parking of trailers in their yards and thereby are extending the “warehouse” out into the yard, the capability also encompasses visibility for “spotters”, i.e. those who move trailers between docks and parking spots in the yard, in order to determine location and destination of trailers. In addition to location of trailers and trucks, this capability can also involve “audits” of goods and equipment such as weighing or temperature monitoring.
- Loading / Unloading Docks: the capability to schedule and call-in specific trucks to docks for loading and unloading. Combining this capability with slot booking either by a logistics planner or by the carrier ahead of arrival can improve workforce and production planning. As many of our customers don’t manage “yard of yards” on their site and sometimes end up having queues of trucks parked outside of their sites, being able to efficiently and timely call in carriers directly to the correct docks is critical to improve flow and reduce congestion.
Not all sites will weigh above capabilities equally, which is why we at Lup Technologies offer our customers the opportunity to pick and choose among the functionality that best meets their requirements, and when required scale and integrate with other systems and hardware to continuously improve their yard operations.