SaaS Breathing Life Into Yard Management Systems
Q: How has SaaS rejuvenated Yard Management?
A: Cloud-based systems have been an enabler in many industries and yard management is no exception. The type of operations that are looking to better manage their yards today don’t want to be bothered with installing complicated infrastructure and initiating the type of complex projects that go along with these environments. The traditional approach to YMS does not provide an acceptable return on investment and has been a barrier to entry for many operations. Furthermore, operators want their solutions to be collaborative and easily integrated with other systems. Providing clients or carriers visibility on what is happening in the yard should be easy.
Q: What are the market forces driving the need for Yard Management?
A: The biggest issue affecting the demand for yard management is the lack of capacity in the transportation network—also known as the driver shortage problem. Common carriers are becoming increasingly intolerant of operations delaying their drivers. Operators are being told if they don’t support a "drop and hook" program, carriers will simply not carry their freight. Therefore, operators are under the gun to better manage their yards, not only as a means of reducing cost and improving efficiency, but as a prerequisite to accessing transportation resources.
Q: How does a YMS address these challenges?
A: When identifying bottlenecks in the yard, most often the biggest issue is at the gatehouse. Most operations don’t have the visibility to be proactive when it comes to receiving trailers at the facility. Gate guards not only have to perform a security function but they’re also constantly on the phone with the warehouse determining where to send trailers. Therefore, to avoid delaying drivers, a YMS needs to provide visibility to which trailers are on-site and which trailers are due to arrive.
This visibility can be gained by receiving a feed from a TMS or a scheduling system. The latter system is essential not only in providing visibility, but also to ensure the schedule adheres to the constraints of the operation and allows the warehouse to proactively assign drivers to parking areas before they arrive.
Q: What other opportunities are out there?
A: There are massive opportunities in the area of streamlining the driver arrival process. We need to look at the advances the airline industry has made with passenger check-in and ask ourselves why can’t we apply this technology to driver arrival at the distribution center?
A truck driver destined to a warehouse should be able to pre gate arrive (check-in) at the DC with their smartphone. Once the driver arrives, the gate guard can simply verify the details and send the driver to his pre-assigned spot. Similarly, a self-serve kiosk (touch screen) can direct pre-arrived drivers to their designated parking spots. The added benefit of streamlining the arrival process is it provides precise driver ETA information to the operation.
For these reasons, a cloud-based YMS is not only more financially accessible but opens doors to new solutions.