Why Implement a Yard Management System?

Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of a research report published recently, “A Supply Chain Executive’s Guide to Yard Management Systems: How to Evaluate, Select, and Successfully Implement a YMS.” The research, conducted by Adelante SCM and commissioned by Kaleris, serves as a guide for supply chain executives looking to evaluate, select, and successfully implement a Yard Management System (YMS). Please visit the report page for more information about the research and to download the full report.

Is it time to modernize and automate your yard management operations? For many companies, the answer is a resounding Yes! 

The need for supply chains to become more agile, flexible, and responsive is more critical than ever, due to (among other things) the rapid growth of e-commerce, more stringent customer requirements like On-Time In-Full (OTIF), and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Historically, yard management has been the weakest link in the end-to-end supply chain, with many companies still relying on clipboards or low-tech solutions to manage their operations. As a result, they are incurring significant costs in the form of unproductive labor, higher demurrage and detention fees, lost or misplaced trailers, product spoilage, and excess inventory (among other cost factors). They are also failing to meet customer expectations around service, visibility, and responsiveness, which limits their ability to differentiate themselves and compete on customer experience.

In addition, carriers are becoming more selective in who they work with. Therefore, companies with very inefficient gate check-in and check-out processes, which keeps drivers off the road and waiting, will experience higher tender rejection rates. This ultimately translates into higher transportation costs (not just in detention charges, but higher spot and contract rates too) and more delayed shipments. 

Simply put, companies can no longer afford to ignore yard management, which is why yard management is moving up the digital transformation priority list for supply chain executives. But how do you begin the journey?

Getting Started

The famous author and speaker Simon Sinek tells us that we should always start by asking “Why?” So, why implement a Yard Management System?

The answer to that question depends on answering a different question first: What supply chain and logistics problems are you trying to solve and/or what new capabilities are you trying to enable?

This is the most important question companies need to ask themselves before embarking on any technology evaluation and implementation project. Like the great Yogi Berra famously said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”

The answer to “Why a YMS?” varies by company, but here are some common challenges that companies often mention:

  • We are experiencing excessive detention/demurrage fees
  • We spend too much time and resources looking for trailers in the yard
  • We don’t have accurate and complete visibility to inventory in our yard
  • We have a lot of manual processes and data entry
  • We have a lot of congestion at our gates due to poor visibility to inbound shipments, lack of appointment scheduling capabilities, and/or manual check-in/out processes
  • Our yard operations are poorly integrated with our transportation and warehousing operations
  • We have poor visibility to the real-time location of our yard trucks and drivers and their statuses and activities
  •  We have a lack of visibility to dock door utilization and availability, and to turn times of trailers at the doors

Before putting together a Request for Information/Proposal and reaching out to YMS vendors, you first have to clearly identify and define the business problems you want to solve and/or new capabilities you want to enable. To get started, it’s important to map your current yard management processes. “Why do we do it this way?” is a good question to ask along the way. It helps you to identify which processes are truly important and add value, and which ones are wasteful and inefficient due to poor design or manual processing.

In short, mapping your current yard management processes will help you develop your list of “must have” technology requirements, as well as identify opportunities for innovation and improvement.

For some case study examples and an overview of important capabilities to consider and questions to ask in your YMS evaluation process, please download the research report.