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Michele CasertanoDirector of Product, FourKites

Last month, FourKites hosted Visibility 2020, our annual user conference. One of the most well-attended sessions focused on the value of yard management solutions. Recent global events have shed light on specific areas of weakness in yard management, highlighting opportunities for preventing future breakdowns through automation and digitization.

As companies increasingly turn to technology to ease mounting challenges in the yard, we wanted to take a moment to delve into yard management systems (YMSs) within the broader context of supply chain visibility and end-to-end supply chain optimization.

How a YMS increases productivity in the yard

A modern yard management system helps customers extract more value by increasing dock productivity, and reducing detention and demurrage costs. There are four ways a YMS promotes productivity in the yard:

  • Trailer check-in is a manual process that takes too much time and creates long wait time at the gate. Facilities can leverage a gate module within the YMS to speed up the check in process at the gate.
  • Dispatchers make many difficult decisions when moving trailers around the yard.  A modern YMS helps facilitate moves to the dock by automatically determining the best moves and sending trailers directly to the appropriate spotter to increase dock utilization and spotter productivity.

In any facility, inventory management is paramount to success. Still, many systems require manual yard checks, forcing organizations to spend valuable time manually identifying trailer locations in the yard. A YMS eliminates this step by keeping a real-time count of assets on the yard via a real-time locationing system (RTLS) that utilizes RFID and GPS technologies.

Curious to see what Gartner has to say about the importance of a yard management system? Watch our recent webinar!

Top 5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Looking for a Yard Management System

Yard management systems come in various shapes and sizes, each prioritizing various functions in the yard. In order to extract the most value from your YMS, regardless of the size of your facilities, it’s important to ask yourself the following:

    1. Does your organization struggle to manage inventory and equipment in the yard? If so, a solution that provides live yard visibility to your assets via a site-specific map will empower your organization with accurate trailer inventory counts, current trailer status and efficient trailer movements.
    2. Are you paying high overtime costs due to inefficient spotter operations? Yard jockey efficiency tools can minimize spotter idle time and streamline yard asset movements within the yard.
    3. Do you have an effective way to communicate across your supply chain? Comprehensive communication tools work wonders to align stakeholders across sites.
    4. Are you able to pull reports and metrics in order to optimize operations? Continuous improvement is the hallmark of any well-operating supply chain. Being able to look closely at metrics detailing things like dwell and carrier performance, as well as gathering deep insights is the most reliable way to measure success and continue to hone your operations.
    5. Are your carriers empowered with tools to help them do their jobs more effectively? Carriers are an essential piece of every supply chain, so they should be high on your priority list when considering a YMS. Self-service, automated appointment scheduling tools with integrated messaging and rescheduling functionality can help improve your carrier relationships and ensure that your goods make it to their destination on time and in full.

When FourKites introduced Dynamic Yard in July, these were the considerations we prioritized. But we also recognized that legacy yard management systems were coming up short by not integrating real-time in-transit visibility and analytics. This integration has the power to empower proactive management of every aspect of yard operations – from appointment and dock scheduling to gate operations and spotter tasking. For instance, if a trailer is six hours late to its original appointment, FourKites’ integrated Appointment Manager will alert you of the delay.  Dynamic Yard allows you to be proactive with your yard operations, while legacy systems leave you merely reactive.

What Results Can You Expect by Implementing a Yard Management Solution?

In a recent YMS implementation, a top-5 CPG shipper saw the following results within just a few months of deployment:

Backed by a proven technology platform, the success of the yard visibility tools led the shipper to roll out the solution at nine additional distribution locations.

At the heart of YMS technology is data-driven business intelligence empowering all parties to further optimize yard, gate and labor activity. And with the additional horsepower of a YMS coupled with in-transit predictive visibility and analytics, like we introduced with Dynamic Yard, every aspect of yard operations can now be managed proactively – from appointment and dock scheduling to gate operations and spotter tasking – shedding light on a part of supply chain operations that was previously siloed and in the dark.

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Looking for more information on yard management systems? This marks the beginning of our YMS blog series! Come back next week to learn about our customers’ most frequent challenges in the yard, and how they leveraged a YMS to resolve these issues.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to request a demo from our resident yard management experts!

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