Inbound Logistics | May 2022

ifteen trucks are stuck in line at a company’s yard gate, waiting for the gate operator to manually instruct them where to go. Warehouse forklifts idle impatiently in each of the five loading docks, all completely empty of trailers. While truckers honk in vain to avoid detention fees, foremen explain to superiors that their priority shipments will be late, despite the cargo being right outside the building. Improper yard management is an all-too-common issue that leads to costly delays and at worst, a loss of customer trust. Companies can solve many of these issues, and may even profit further, with the help of a dedicated yard management system. A yard management system (YMS) is a software or application that orchestrates the efficient movement of yard equipment (trucks, trailers, employees, materials) through the area around a facility. Most warehouse management systems (WMS) have basic YMS functionality, but more demanding work calls for more robust solutions. A dedicated YMS acts as a bridge between transportation and warehousing, and it tracks asset locations, collects performance data, and optimizes workflow across a yard. A YMS works between the transportation management system (TMS) and the WMS to manage inbound and outbound events through the yard. A YMS offers key features such as asset visibility, task optimization, dock scheduling, gatehouse management, TMS/WMS integration, demand planning, real-time communication, and data collection. These features decrease latency and increase smooth operation of assets, and provide users with real-time feedback on shipping schedules, truck locations, and other information to streamline yard management. Manufacturers, distributors, and/or warehousers may consider a YMS for a few reasons: • Yards span multiple locations, where it is impossible to manually collect real-time information. • Inefficiencies like miscommunication or bottlenecking detract from the bottom line. • Third-party logistics (3PL) providers and other supply chain parties request shipping updates and other real- time information related to the yard. A YMS generates value in the following five areas: 1 Drivers know the headache of arriving to a yard, only to find a long line. Poorly managed gate systems bottleneck

both receivers and carriers, causing unnecessary delays and detention charges. A YMS automates the gate process, where drivers self-check-in using their smartphone. After passing a set geo-fence, drivers are guided by their device to exactly where they need to be and are given site-specific information for dropping off their trailer. 2 Multiple shipments arriving at once cause gate congestion and warehouse throughput issues. An automated schedule for drivers, where carriers choose when to arrive at their convenience based on the master schedule, can minimize these problems. Automated scheduling not only smooths inbound and outbound traffic, but also provides a set time for drivers to arrive and leave without worrying about unforeseen delays. 3 Trailer moving is a sore spot in dock operations—a lack of strategy leads to congestion and delays in priority shipments. A YMS solves this issue with a process-driven trailer moving order, where trailer moves are optimized based on loading location and deadline. In complex operations where there are multiple loading locations for trailers, a yard management system also ensures partially loaded trucks are not lost in the move. 4 Trailer detention fees occur when a trailer dwells for too long in/around the yard beyond its grace period; these fees pile up once delays accrue. Carriers must be quickly notified of their available equipment, otherwise these fees apply and create an unproductive and time-wasting situation. A yard management system not only organizes received trailers to minimize detention time, but it also provides real- time notifications to carriers and other interested parties when equipment is available. 5 Yard truck operations are the most costly expense in yard management. A haphazard yard truck operation has significant downstream effects and results in missed service commitments, or even a loss of valued partners. Automating task-management processes using self-learning algorithms and data collection allows a YMS to eliminate unnecessary moves, and can assign moves to specific drivers based on previous performance. The enhanced efficiency enables the yard to serve the business at a lower cost and reduces time investment, all without active input from users. The return on investment for yard management technology tools is often more than justifiable. A company investing in yard operation technology not only optimizes current capabilities, but also future-proofs the business for growth and expansion.  n

May 2022 • Inbound Logistics 71

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