What is a Yard Management System?

Current Challenges in the Yard

  • Long driver wait times 
  • Manual processes across the gate, yard and dock 
  • High overhead costs 
  • Lack of yard and warehouse efficiency

Yard and facility management have historically been a blind spot for shippers. Shippers have assets moving through various warehouses or distribution centers (DC) and if challenges arise, it can impact the final delivery of a shipment. Thus, these disruptions will have significant downstream impacts on an entire supply chain. 

Facilities or DCs often lack visibility into what goods are delivering to their warehouses and the estimated time of those deliveries. Due to the manual processes that yards often operate, there is poor collaboration with drivers around delays or appointment scheduling. As a result, shippers experience increased yard overhead costs, extended trailer dwell times, and ultimately missed shipment delivery windows, all of which disrupt supply chain operations and negatively impact customer satisfaction.

What is a Yard Management System?

In the complex world of logistics and supply chain management, efficiency, and precision are paramount. Amid the hustle and bustle of warehouses and DCs, one key area often overlooked is the yard – where trailers are staged, loaded, and unloaded. 

This is where a Yard Management System (YMS) comes into play. Gartner defines a YMS as a tool that supports the efficient flow of work, equipment and materials through the normally enclosed area outside of a warehouse, distribution center or manufacturing facility (the yard). It provides an overview of yard operations and supports the planning, direction and control of scheduling, movement, parking, inspection and reassignment of trucks, trailers and containers in the yard.

Understanding Yard Management

  • Facility efficiency
  • Transportation management
  • Inventory visibility

A Yard Management System acts as the central nervous system for yard operations, managing the flow of vehicles, trailers, and inventory in the yard of a distribution center, manufacturing plant, or warehouse. Providing visibility and control over the movement of goods and assets, a YMS integrates with other systems like Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) and Transportation Management Systems (TMS) to create a seamless flow of information and operations from inbound logistics to outbound deliveries.

Key Components of a Yard Management System

Various tech solutions can tackle specific yard issues, but the intricate, complex workings of a supply chain yard demand a more unified approach. A YMS is the most complete, holistic, comprehensive way to control yard operations. It combines essential components into a unified solution, ensuring a significant improvement in how a yard runs.

Predictive ETAs: With real-time visibility into ETAs, yard managers can see if a driver is late, early or on-time to a destination to improve equipment readiness, staff scheduling and other operational planning.

Asset Tracking: With GPS and RFID technology, managers can track the location and status of trailers and containers, monitor movements, and make informed decisions quickly. Tracking the location and status of trailers, containers and other assets. 

Dock and Gate Scheduling: Efficient dock and gate scheduling is vital to avoid bottlenecks and delays. A YMS automates the scheduling process, ensuring that docks are utilized optimally and reducing idle time for trailers. It can dynamically adjust schedules based on real-time conditions and priorities.

Gate Management: Managing the entry and exit of vehicles is crucial for security and efficiency. A YMS streamlines gate operations by automating check-in and check-out processes, verifying appointments, and directing drivers to the appropriate locations, without human intervention. This often comes in the form of IoT and self-service kiosk capabilities to automate the arrival and departure process.

Task Management: Yard operations involve numerous tasks such as trailer moves, yard checks, and inventory counts. A YMS assigns and tracks these tasks, ensuring that yard staff are always aware of their responsibilities and deadlines. Thus, reducing errors and increasing productivity.

Integration Capabilities: For a YMS to be truly effective, it must integrate seamlessly with other systems. This includes WMS, TMS, ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), and IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Integration ensures data consistency and provides a holistic view of supply chain operations.

Benefits of Implementing a Yard Management System

While we’ve touched on the high-level benefits, here is a breakdown of the key takeaways and immediate advantages of implementing a YMS. This blog discusses specific tools that improve yard management even further.

Improved Efficiency: By automating and optimizing yard operations, a YMS reduces manual processes, minimizes errors, and accelerates the flow of goods. Ultimately, leading to faster turnaround times and increased throughput.

Enhanced Visibility and Control: With real-time data and analytics, warehouse personnel gain complete visibility into yard operations, allowing for better decision-making, proactive issue resolution, and improved resource allocation.

Cost Savings: Reducing idle times, optimizing labor, and preventing delays contribute to significant cost savings, a YMS helps in maximizing asset utilization and minimizing demurrage fees and other operational costs.

Better Customer Service: Efficient yard operations directly impact delivery times and service levels. A YMS enhances customer satisfaction and strengthens customer relationships by ensuring that shipments are transferring in and out of a facility on time, and exceptions are communicated upstream.

Compliance and Security: A YMS helps in maintaining compliance with regulations and security protocols by providing accurate records of yard activities, vehicle movements, and inventory status. This is crucial for audits and safety management.

Future Trends in Yard Management

The evolution of technology continues to shape the future of yard management. Emerging trends include the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning to predict and optimize yard operations further. Drones and autonomous vehicles are being tested for yard checks and trailer movements, promising to revolutionize traditional yard management practices.

Additionally, advanced analytics and big data will play an increasingly significant role in providing predictive insights and enhancing decision-making capabilities. The IoT will continue to connect more devices and sensors, creating a fully integrated and intelligent yard ecosystem.

In the fast-paced and evolving world of logistics, a YMS is a necessity. It provides the tools and insights needed to manage yard operations efficiently, reduce costs and enhance overall supply chain performance. As technology advances, YMS will continue to evolve, offering even greater capabilities and transforming the way yards are managed.

The Benefits are Clear. Now What?

Investing in a robust Yard Management System is a strategic move that can yield significant benefits, driving operational excellence and competitive advantage in the logistics industry.

Increased visibility in the yard can lead to a more efficient and cost-effective operation. With project44 Facilities, automated workflows eliminate manual processes and human error in day-to-day tasks while increased communication improves collaboration between yard employees and drivers.

We’re pros at helping household brands manage their facility operations. Schedule a personalized demo with us today.