When it comes to managing yard operations, most large scale organizations and corporations still tend to rely on the same old spreadsheets, card systems, and chalkboards. This traditional and outdated method of doing things has its benefits. No one’s denying that. But, it has more than its fair share of problems; the most significant problem being human error. All it takes is just one or two errors and you could be looking at millions in losses.
For example, an error in manual yard management can show up as a trailer being misplaced. The misplaced trailer could be one with a lot of valuable goods inside; goods that probably need to be delivered into the hands of the customer immediately. Of course, locating the trailer using a yard driver is a solution and a cheap one at that.
However, the actual damage is done in the form of poor sales revenue. When the goods are lost, especially before a major seasonal or promotional event, the impact on sales revenue can be lower than one can imagine.
In order to avoid this, smart corporations and organizations rely on Yard Management Systems (YMS).
What is a Yard Management System or YMS?
A yard management system or YMS is, to put it simply, computer software. It’s designed to supervise the movements of vehicles such as trailers and trucks within a manufacturing facility or yard. It’s also used in distribution centers and warehouses for the very same purpose.
A YMS can provide information about a trailer’s location in the yard and what’s important is that this information is available in real-time. Employees who use a YMS at a yard find it easier to move trailers from the stage to the docks and fill orders efficiently.
In many cases, a YMS is used along with a WMS or Warehouse Management System and a TMS or Transportation Management System.
A YMS also comes with in-built RFID capabilities, which helps improve the accuracy of tracking.
Investing in a YMS
When working out the ROI (Return on Investment) for a YMS, it is necessary to get an idea of the costs (direct and indirect) associated with your logistical operations.
The obvious benefits of a Yard Managment Solutions are the operational costs that you manage to cut down on. This includes standard yard operations such as fleet equipment expenses, yard driver labor costs, and other extra charges.
That’s why it is important to chart out these operational expenses in the context of your yard operations. Companies that use a YMS manage to acquire an efficiency of 25 to 35 percent with regard to yard labor. This is possible because the YMS manages to completely get rid of manual searching methods, while boosting yard driver efficiency.
The implementation of a Yard Managment Solution has seen yard operations enjoying significant benefits such as an increase in trailer move rates. For instance, some yards have seen trailer moves go up by 2 to 3 per hour. Another key benefit is that fewer hours are spent on yard checks, while improving data integrity. The increase in efficiency with a YMS brings down the need for increased labor and also cuts down on yard truck requirements.
Trailer utilization rates also go up with a YMS because trucking assets are better managed. The standard time required by trailers to cross the main security gate can be brought down from 10 minutes to 30 seconds if the YMS handles all the check-in procedures, while the load is on the way to the site.
The number of trailers needed to manage large scale logistics also drops because Yard Managment Systems can offer drivers advance appointments and manage the trailers with higher efficiency. In fact, trailer requirements can be brought down by almost 15 percent. As a result, either trailer leasing expenses come down or the investment needed for transportation drastically reduces.
Accessorial charges from third party carriers can also be eliminated. A good YMS system is designed to eliminate as many expenses as possible. For instance, companies that implement YMS manage to get rid of such costs by using the system to monitor third party assets. When needed, third party assets can be liberated according to dwell-time limitations.
A YMS also comes dock scheduling, which means trailers are assigned to the right door instantaneously, which saves a lot of time.
Such a system also offers indirect benefits, which are basically non-measurable savings. For instance, warehouse wait times are cut down, labor efficiency is increased, order fill rates are improved, and product spoilage is minimized. Order fill rates can be improved when trailers are instantly sent for receiving according to prioritized inventory.
Spoilage of goods, especially perishable is quite common in yards. But, with a YMS, notifications about low fuel or temperature changes can be sent in real time for refrigerated units. This will bring down the rate of inventory loss significantly. Trailers with perishables can be prioritized according to the expiration date of the inventory. This will prevent newer inventory from being moved before the older inventory.
Increased warehousing efficiency is another key benefit with a YMS. For instance, loading delays that are normally caused as a result of trailers being brought to the wrong door can be prevented. This, in turn, eliminates or minimizes congestion on the shipping dock and improves the efficiency of outbound labor productivity.
In fact, warehouses that rely on a YMS have, in the past, reported of increased throughput efficiencies, with regard to outbound operations, in the range of 10 to 12 percent, in peak season. This is one of the most obvious indirect benefits of a YMS because such systems are designed to prevent the delays commonly associated with trailers being delivered to the wrong doors.
A delayed trailer causes a chain reaction of inefficiency and overtime costs. For instance, if a trailer fails to make it to a retailer on time, then the retailer has to incur losses in sales revenue and also pay overtime costs for hired labor resources.
However, with a YMS in place, all the regular inefficiencies associated with manual yard operations are brought down to a minimum.