A report recently issued by Chicago-based FourKites, a provider of real-time tracking and visibility solutions across transportation modes and digital platforms, examined how yard management can present a “massive and costly blind spot” for shippers and their supply chain partners.
The report, entitled “The State of Yard Management: Industry Report 2021,” was based on feedback from 375 respondents in various sectors, including consumer packaged goods (CPG), food & beverage, retail and manufacturing, with a focus on how shippers in various sectors and approach specific pain points, among other topics.
The report observed that 92% of its respondents maintain that a yard management system (YMS) is something that can add value but only 25% are actually using a YMS. And the report explained that this gap in perceived value and real-world adoption of YMS is related to a few different factors, such as organizations prioritizing investments in transportation management systems (TMS) and warehouse management systems (WMS), as well as deficiencies in legacy YMS offerings.
“Companies need real-time visibility into every mile of a product’s journey,” said Matt Elenjickal, Founder and CEO of FourKites, in a statement. “Now, a new generation of yard management systems, integrated with real-time in-transit visibility platforms and other key systems, can help facility managers optimize the yard — reducing dwell times and increasing operating margins in the process — and track a product from point of origin to destination.”
Among the report’s key findings were:
- more than half of respondents cite manual processes as their biggest challenge when it comes to both yard and appointment management (55% and 52%, respectively);
- after manual processes, 21% listed locating equipment as their biggest yard management pain point, followed by 15% citing excessive operational costs;
- after manual processes, just over 20% of respondents cited poor dock door utilization as their biggest challenge with managing appointments, followed by 18% citing siloes between appointment management and TMS/WMS;
- 27% of respondents do not maintain any kind of yard or appointment performance metrics;
- more than 1 in 5 (22%) respondents are still managing gate processes on paper, and only 5% have taken steps to automate these processes; and
- over 40% of Retailers have adopted a YMS, representing the highest group of users among the industries surveyed
In an interview, Seve Carnera, solutions consultant for FourKites, explained that while most organizations place a lot of effort and resources on both WMS and TMS systems, organizations have been slower to embrace YMS systems in the same manner.
“ROI and the efficiencies of a YMS system are not always clearly understood or measured, although that is starting to change, especially with the IoT solutions becoming more common these days,” said Carnera.
When asked how companies can overcome the manual processes related to YMS, Carnera observed that, first and foremost, it is critical to automate manual processes at the gate, which includes organizational awareness of current trailer inventory that includes size, type and status, as well as additional information are critical.
And Camera also noted that organizations must also focus on dwell time for trailers in the yard, which can help them significantly reduce costs.
“Yard drivers and dispatchers or dock workers traditionally are very manual/paper intensive,” he said. “And finally, using a YMS for task management can eliminate manual processes for yard drivers, and can dramatically increase moves per hour and eliminate human error.”
With more than one-fifth of the report’s respondents still managing gate processes on paper and only 5% automating those processes, Carnera said that this discrepancy relates to how WMS and TMS systems have traditionally taken higher priority over yard management systems.
“Organizations don’t always have a strict budget allocated to YMS, making it more difficult to adopt and implement,” said Carnera. “So many companies will first try out a low-cost solution for gate operations, accessibility and effective use of those systems can be challenging and limited with respect to functionality, data capture and data-sharing across all of the company’s technology platforms.”
“The dramatic numbers of companies that are still managing these time-intensive processes on paper indicates a general lack of understanding of the hefty costs associated with manual yard operations,” he said. “As we've always said at FourKites, 'You can't fix what you can't see,' and we applied that thinking as we pioneered and have proven the value of real-time in-transit visibility. With Dynamic Yard, we're now helping our customers do the same in the yard. Greater visibility in the yard will help companies of all shapes and sizes transform their operations, and provide true visibility from point of origin all the way to destination.”
About the Author
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review and is a contributor to Robotics 24/7. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis.
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