The network effect is at the heart of supply chain transformation. Essentially, the network effect exists when all components of the supply chain technology ecosystem work together to improve the performance of the end-to-end supply chain. A yard management system (YMS) is an integral component of this technology ecosystem.
As part of our Supply Chain 101 series, we bring you a beginner’s guide to various supply chain technologies. Today, I’m going to write a little bit about a yard management system. A YMS is an application software program responsible for the management of information about facility yard activities, resources, and locations. Processes include yard check-in and check-out, asset presence and location, dock door scheduling and capacity management, and yard task and activity management.
As mentioned above, the yard management system needs to be part of an integrated ecosystem. The warehouse needs to know who is coming and when, which begins with the estimated time of arrival. Beyond that, warehouse workers need updates on what dock the truck is arriving, when the truck is loaded, what papers they will pick up, what needs to be signed, and when they are leaving the warehouse or yard. The YMS can be looked at as a bridge between your transportation management systems and warehouse management system.
There are a variety of benefits to deploying a yard management system. The fist benefit is around visibility into the yard. Without an advanced yard management system, organizations are reduced to doing a daily yard check with pen and paper and spending hours reconciling what they found with previous checks. This can also be a safety issue; having a yard management system in place removes the need to have people walking around the yard.
A second benefit is cost reduction. The ability to control container demurrage and trailer detention costs is a cost bucket that companies should and can manage better. The first challenge is the ability to identify containers and trailers that are about to incur additional charges, so that these can be unloaded and released in time.
A third benefit is velocity. A yard management system provides real-time visibility into asset locations and their operational status including dwell times in various states. By monitoring all the delays in the visit lifecycle, it becomes possible to accelerate operations, such as rapidly identifying available empty trailers for outbound loads.
A fourth benefit is the ability to maximize throughput capacity of the yard. The combination of improved dock door scheduling, and visibility of empty trailers sitting idle in the yard, enables yard throughput to be increased. Typically, yard management systems generate a 20 percent throughput increase. The cost benefit of avoiding additional building construction or renting/acquiring satellite yards can often justify the investment in yard management systems.
As mentioned above, a yard management system can provide a variety of benefits to an organization, from cost savings to increased throughput. As part of the larger supply chain ecosystem, these applications help to advance the network effect, making the yard a competitive advantage rather than a cost center.