Better supervision, streamlined workflows, and reduced costs are just a few of the benefits of yard management systems.
It’s no surprise that technology far surpasses the effectiveness of clipboards and paper logbooks when it comes to running a yard. But just how necessary are yard management systems (YMS) to an efficient supply chain in today’s market?
“It’s table stakes,” says Steve Silverman, Senior Vice President of Supply Chain at Bargain Hunt. In fact, Silverman’s first initiative when joining Bargain Hunt a few years ago was increasing visibility into inbound and outbound freight — one of the major benefits of yard management systems. Since implementation, the company’s YMS has been critical to transforming this fast-growing regional retailer from its entrepreneurial roots to operating at scale.
Bargain Hunt puts new merchandise in its stores two or three times during most weeks. Rapid inventory turnover is part of the fun for customers, but it makes running the yard extremely challenging. Without a YMS in place, says Silverman, Bargain Hunt would not have been able to scale comfortably and quickly “without adding an army of people.”
What benefits of yard management systems have been most crucial to Bargain Hunt’s successful growth? Here are the top 10.
10 Benefits of Yard Management Systems
1. More visibility
The yard operation is critical to moving freight in a timely manner, and visibility is essential to avoid bottlenecks and get trucks in and out. Everything is visible in a yard with a fully integrated yard management system. It’s easy to find loads and track SKUs. On the other hand, lack of visibility creates confusion and wastes time.
2. Smarter planning
Better visibility goes hand in hand with better planning. When you see what’s coming at you — from a supply perspective and a financial perspective — you can plan for it before it arrives, set appointments for drivers in advance, schedule labor accordingly, anticipate yard moves, and only bring merchandise into your building when you’re ready to handle it.
End-to-end visibility through the YMS also lets you turn assets faster. Productivity improves when you can find, move, and load/unload containers more efficiently. For example, Bargain Hunt turns their fleet two or three times a day, and a YMS reduced their trailer pool by almost 50%.
4. Accurate labor forecasting
In a manual yard (the one with the clipboards and paper logbooks), people are looking for inventory and drivers are waiting to get in or for their trucks to be loaded/unloaded. Yard management systems eliminate the need for manual yard checks, so your team can focus on more critical tasks while drivers (and everyone else) work, not wait.
5. Better communication
Use yard management software to send emails and text updates directly to customers, drivers, and yard hostlers about what’s in, what’s out, and what’s on the way. A YMS will also make real-time data from the yard easily accessible to the rest of your supply chain.
6. Security and loss prevention
The yard is where you can lose visibility into inventory and things can go missing. Yard management software keeps track of who’s on the premises and where goods are from the moment they reach the gate. This saves time and money on security, check-ins and check-outs, and all other aspects of loss prevention.
7. Improve your reputation
A smart yard at the heart of your supply chain can be a competitive advantage with carriers and customers. Greet drivers at the gate with all the information you need to get them registered and through the yard quickly. A courteous welcome and more efficient operations can make you a preferred partner in a shipping climate where becoming a shipper of choice is essential to finding capacity.
8. Real cost savings
More visibility, better planning, and more accurate forecasting add up to real cost savings. Better workflows can reduce labor, fuel, and retention costs and minimize the amount of freight on shelves instead of trucks. With a YMS you’ll need fewer trailers, make fewer errors, and incur less costs for spoilage and expired inventory. Some companies report savings in the range of 25 to 35% of labor costs because of less searching and more driver efficiency.
9. Happy employees
A YMS can promote a better work environment. At Bargain Hunt, for example, yard hostlers have all the information they need to do their jobs on easy-to-use tablets. According to Silverman, “Since we implemented the YMS, efficiency is way up, and everyone’s daily anxiety and stress levels are way down.”
Better supervision, streamlined workflows, reduced costs — these benefits of yard management systems are critical for scaling operations without cost-prohibitive headcount proliferation. As Bargain Hunt plans to double its number of locations in the next 18 months, Silverman recognizes that the YMS is critical to supporting that growth. “You gotta have it,” he says.
The benefits of yard management systems make the investment worthwhile, even — or, especially — if a full-scale TMS is out of the budget. We might even argue the days of running a yard operation without a YMS are numbered for those wishing to remain competitive in today’s market.