Who's Minding The Yard?

Warehouse yards can be messy at best and chaotic at worst. Technology can help companies better take control over their yards.


Harris adds it used to take one of his clients up to three hours to complete a yard check, prior to implementing YardView. "The yard check was obsolete before it was even completed."

Synchronization:Having YMS integrated with WMS and TMS provides synchronization, notes Kozenski at Red Prairie. "They are all part of the same data model because when a receiver in the warehouse finishes his work and the trailer is empty, he can immediately instruct the yard jockey to move the truck. That is the handshake I like to call synchronization between the systems allow them to know what's going on on both sides of the warehouse walls."

Staff monitoring: Gollu notes YMS helps companies manage staff more effectively. "You can identify employees who are not performing well so you can remedy that through additional training. By monitoring the speed of yard trucks, companies can prevent accidents. When one does occur, you know who was at fault."

How It Works

PINC's YMS programs use passive RFID and MEMS-based sensors to determine the position of items, eliminating the needs for heavy, up-front infrastructure, notes Gollu. PINC tracking units are installed in yard trucks. These units have an RFID reader with 802.11 capabilities, as well as GPS and motion sensors. The gate system consists of a laptop; Internet connection enables communication and PINC hosts the system.

When a trailer arrives at the gate, PINC's Yard Hound YMS program reads the RFID tag and directs the trailer to a particular parking spot. "As yard trucks do their work around the yard, they are gathering all information about which trailers are in the yard and where they are, so they are essentially the eyes and ears of the yard," explains Gollu.

The solution can integrate into a company's WMS or TMS programs, releasing richer information about a trailer's activities on the yard and when it's ready to leave.

PINC's partnership with C3 delivers a complete solution. "Our strength is visibility and theirs is scheduling and optimization," says Gollu.

Harris at Cypress Inland says when he designed YardView, he wanted to create a system that's easy to use and configure. "We started with a proven paper-based process and revamped it to take advantage of technology. Then we integrated a lot of could-we-do-this ideas from our customers to create an easy-to-use Web-based program running on the customer's Intranet or over the Internet to do things like in-cab (or in-truck) real-time trailer updating and WMS and TMS integration." Aberdeen Group named YardView a Best-of-Breed solution.

"The minimum we need is a carrier name, trailer number and a parking spot to track a yard effectively," continues Harris. "Companies generally track up to 12 additional pieces of data like the products onboard, loaded status and seal number. All a guard at the gate has to do is find the trailer on an online report and click a link and the trailer gets inbound without having to key in much information."

YardView sends out automatic e-mails alerting carriers when trailers are loaded and ready for pickup.

"Everyone is on the same page and you don't have to wait for the guy who updates the Excel spreadsheet to return from lunch," continues Harris. "We don't have to send yard jockeys out looking for trailers during the day. If one of your departments wants to know what equipment is out there, they just click an icon on our drag-and-drop page and they get a report showing them all the information they need in real time."

Manhattan Associates offers Load Management Solution, which contains a yard management program and an online self-serve, appointment-scheduling program.

"Your vendors or carriers can go online and schedule their appointments into your DC and the yard management program takes the appointments and optimizes where the trailers will go when they arrive, based on the dock door schedule," explains Nix.

Event management alerts give companies a heads-up into situations that could turn critical. "If you have trailer shortages or detention charges because your carriers can't get their trucks unloaded, the system will help reduce these problems," Nix says. "It can also increase your customer service and store service by lowering out-of-stocks and spoilages because you know exactly where that inventory is when you are about to have a problem."

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