January 2013 | Commentary | IT Matters

Yard and Dock Management Tools: An Extra Set of Eyes in Your Facility

Tags: Logistics I.T., Loading Dock

Eric Breen is Systems Manager, 4SIGHT, 866-691-1377

Facility managers and warehouse executives face unique challenges as global supply chain complexity grows. While many issues and costs associated with moving materials and products are out of their control, optimizing yard, dock, and warehouse processes can increase operational and logistics efficiency.

Designed to eliminate common and costly logistics problems, yard and dock management systems use real-time and physical data to help facilities efficiently manage operations such as loading dock visibility, live and staged trailer coordination, and turn times.

These systems integrate loading dock equipment with intelligent software to monitor, communicate, and manage loading dock status, helping companies avoid costs related to detention charges, product spoilage, and employee accidents.

These systems do more than simply monitor trailer movements—they act as an extra set of eyes to track facility operations. Here are some tips for implementing yard and dock management systems to maximize their benefits:

  • Start beyond the dock. Tracking costly problems before they start is the foundation of yard and dock management systems, so why not begin outside in the yard before problems make their way to the dock and warehouse?
    Many systems use RFID and sensor technologies, as well as GPS tracking, to record every trailer movement. This increased visibility and monitoring creates real-time performance reports, with the ability to reduce yard check time by 90 percent, and yard labor and equipment resources by up to 30 percent.
  • Use tools to control the variables you can. Yard and dock management systems provide a single interface that captures dock status, while many types of paging devices can be provided to drivers to make trailer movements timely and efficient. This increase in dock efficiency can improve positive dock utilization by up to 20 percent.
  • Run at full potential. Receiving real-time loading dock status updates from a single interface can reduce labor hours while increasing dock utilization by 20 percent or more. And in response to the increased productivity, some systems can even eliminate unnecessary service through scheduled maintenance based on actual equipment usage. These updates can also help reduce energy costs through sensors that guarantee dock doors are closed when not in use.
  • Track, measure, change, repeat. Proactive change on the loading dock and in your logistics operations can help reduce excess costs associated with moving products and materials. But how do you know what to change and when?

Yard and dock management systems do more than simply track and provide raw data. Many of these tools develop detailed reports based on parameters such as carrier arrival and departure times, loading and unloading times, and labor hours. These reports provide the information you need to make important decisions that can affect the productivity and profitability of your entire operation.

On the Right Track

Integrating yard and dock management systems can help take your operation to the next level by optimizing your yard, loading dock, and warehouse logistics, and integrating them with software to manage tasks and trailer movements. From the moment a trailer enters your yard to the time it leaves, you'll know exactly where it is, what's on it, where it needs to be, and how to get it there as quickly as possible. That's the definition of efficiency.