Yard management systems are a key part of overall supply chain visibility, says Gollu, whose company provides automated yard-management systems. "Knowing where your trailers and shipments are, and applying best practices around that knowledge, translates into velocity and cost savings."
Knowing a trailer's location, particularly in a big yard with hundreds of trailers, can save a driver significant time when picking up or dropping off, he says. "You want to get that driver in and out so you can maintain reasonable velocity across the supply chain." Additionally, since the average driver earns $50 an hour, getting drivers in and out of a facility faster can amount to substantial savings. "You don't want to learn about a driver when he or she shows up at your gate; you want to be able to anticipate his arrival and you do that through visibility to shipments and trailers across the network," says Gollu. "The visibility provided by advanced yard management systems is not limited to the four fences but goes across the network," he says.
Yard management also supports other key metrics like asset utilization. "You don't want trailers to sit idle in the yard, but industry statistics indicate that it takes about 72 hours to complete a typical truck shipment. Only eight of those hours are on the road, so the rest is spent idle," says Gollu. With the ability to track trailers, managers can determine dwell time and prioritize handling, he says.
PINC introduced the use of passive RFID tags to track trailers inside a facility and to identify them at the gate, enabling rapid check-in and check-out. "There previously were systems that used active RFID tags, but those were significantly more expensive and cumbersome to install and maintain," Gollu says. This is because active tags run on a battery that needs to be replaced every couple of years.
Typically yard management systems tie into warehouse management systems and transportation management systems, says Gollu. "With most of our customers, we primarily integrate with TMS because that is where shipments are planned - what is going where. The yard management system then has to pick the right trailer with the right tare weight and the right volume and assign it to the right carrier, so we work closely with TMS to get the day's inbound and outbound shipments into our system."
Yards of any size are able to see a return on investment in under 12 months on yard management systems, Gollu says. "Clearly, if a company has more than 200 parking slots the pain becomes quite real; if you don't know a trailer's location you may walk an hour and a half to locate it." This is less of an issue for smaller facilities, "but even then you may have someone looking across a network of multiple facilities who needs that visibility," he says. Customers typically start their deployment with their larger facilities, "but eventually they implement across their network so that they can manage end to end and gain that visibility that translates into cost savings or velocity," Gollu says.
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Keywords: supply chain, rfid, supply chain management, supply chain management scm, inventory management, transportation management, logistics management, warehouse management, logistics & supply chain, supply chain solutions, logistics it solutions, supply chain planning, transportation management systems, wms, warehouse management systems
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