The Supply Chainiacs Talk YMS: Yard Digitization & Inventory Management

Over the last two weeks, FourKites has released two new episodes of The Supply Chainiacs, our podcast hosted by logistics veteran and FourKites’ Senior Vice President of Customer Success Glenn Koepke. In the second episode, Glenn and our resident yard management system (YMS) expert, Seve Carnera, discuss the value of digitizing the yard, while the third installment tackles inventory management. Each episode dives deep into data pulled from our recently released YMS Industry Report to explain how the latest trends in the industry are influencing technology adoption.

FourKites’ YMS Industry Report surveyed over 300 Fortune 500 companies and found that only a quarter of respondents had adopted a yard management solution. Even though YMS adoption rates were relatively low, over 80% of respondents believed that a YMS would or could help their yard function more efficiently.

Why is there such a stark difference between those who see value in a YMS and those who have taken the plunge to adopt one? Carnera hypothesizes that this is largely due to two factors: the priority organizations place on investing in warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS), as well as the large number of internal stakeholders involved in implementing and using a YMS.

The sheer number of users a YMS can support is a strong reason for adoption, but some may see it as a roadblock due to the training and implementation needs surrounding the tool. This is where selecting the right provider comes into play. By choosing a provider eager to partner with you to make implementation and training simple and straightforward, you can significantly reduce the internal resources needed to kickstart a yard management solution.

Learn more about Yard Management Systems

How can digitizing the yard improve operations?

Manual processes plague workflows across the yard, from the gate to the dock. Modern yard management systems are designed specifically to streamline and automate many of those antiquated workflows. When selecting a yard management system, it’s important to consider where the bulk of your costs are coming from, and then determine which provider offers the most effective solutions for the related workflows to help minimize costs. For example, FourKites’ Dynamic Yard® offers spotter task workflow automation to help spotters complete tasks more efficiently, which is important for organizations over-spending on labor.

Koepke dug deeper into the survey data surrounding manual processes, noting that 22% of respondents manage gate operations manually, on paper. Carnera explains that the value of digitizing the gate comes from the ability to track equipment and goods as they enter and leave the yard. In addition, he notes that offering gate personnel the ability to in- and out-gate trucks in multiple ways, in addition to the ability to leave the gate house to gather information, adds significant operational value. By digitizing the gate, processes become more repeatable and trackable. If gate operations are sluggish and unnecessarily costing the organization money as a result, digitization enables managers to view performance metrics and isolate areas of improvement across the organization or individually by site.

How can a YMS help organizations better manage inventory?

Inventory management is one of the toughest and most important challenges for facilities to tackle. Carnera has stated that this is a leading reason for customers initiating conversations about adopting a YMS. And while every industry can benefit from maintaining real-time inventory logs, the Retail industry — more than any other industry represented in our survey — seems to put yard management systems to work for this task. According to our survey, 41% of Retail respondents have adopted a YMS, far surpassing the average adoption rate of 25%. Carnera hypothesizes that this is likely due to the sheer number of deliveries (and inventory) the retail industry must manage every day, as well as the larger size and inherent complexity of retail yards. Lost inventory is a costly mistake for any organization, regardless of industry, but yard management systems can step in to ease that burden.

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We welcome you to join us next week for our final episode of this Supply Chainiacs series as we delve deeper into The State of Yard Management and everyone’s biggest yard management system concern: ROI.

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