YMS: Your Yard, Optimized

YMS: Your Yard, Optimized

Yard management systems optimize a sometimes-overlooked supply chain link, helping shippers maximize the potential of their yard and strengthen KPIs.

As with the rest of the supply chain, the challenges of the yard—the area of shipping/receiving activity located outside of a warehouse, distribution center, or manufacturing facility—have become more complex in recent years. As a result, shippers increasingly are turning to sophisticated tech-based solutions to help.

While sometimes overlooked, the yard serves as a crucial connection between transportation and warehousing—two prominent, heavily analyzed components of the supply chain. Despite that, the yard has not always been recognized as the critical supply chain link that it is, says Yemisi Bolumole, Ryder-endowed professor of supply chain management at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Yard management hasn’t gotten enough attention, but it’s finally starting to get the attention it deserves,” Bolumole says.

Improving a Crucial Node

For many shippers, paying attention to the yard means using a yard management system (YMS), a software solution that monitors movements inside the yard. Similar to warehouse management systems and transportation management systems, a YMS can help shippers operate their yards more efficiently.

Without a YMS, the yard can become a neglected space and fall into a visibility gap between transportation and warehouse, creating inefficiencies and other challenges. With a YMS, the yard can become an area of strength.

“Yards are crucial nodes in shipper supply chains—they can either accelerate operations or be the origin of disruptions that cascade throughout the logistics process, driving up costs and partner frustration,” says Scott Holland, chief product officer at Kaleris, a global provider of supply chain execution and visibility technology headquartered near Atlanta.

“Yards are also powerful indicators of the overall health and effectiveness of a shipper’s supply chain,” he adds. “When optimized with a YMS, shippers can maximize the potential of their yard, accelerating key KPIs such as throughput, capacity management, and spotter productivity, which leads to an increase in overall operational velocity.”

Transforming Yards From Ineffective to Efficient

A YMS can help shippers effectively plan, schedule, and coordinate yard activity, which includes not only trucks and trailers but also staff and other resources at a facility. It can also bring vital agility to yard operations, touching on everything from the movement of trucks and trailers to parking and inspection.

In addition to the yard itself, a YMS often supports activities at a facility’s gate as well as the inbound and outbound dock doors.

One factor driving increased interest in the yard and in yard management systems is the supply chain sector’s struggles with idling and dwell among trucks when they reach a warehouse and wait in the yard to load or unload. Both the inefficiency of dwell and the environmental implications of idling have helped bring yard management to the foreground.

“How are we managing these trucks as they get into the warehouse yard?” Bolumole asks. “How are we assigning them to doors so they can be unloaded in a way that not only cuts down on dwell time, but also cuts down on the idling of trucks in the yard—or worse, the detention when the driver just drops the container and races off?

“It’s a perfect storm of conversation that is bringing yard management to light,” he adds. “It’s a case of technology and need coming together.”

Without yard management, processes often remain ineffective, for instance, trucks check in at the gate and then fall out of visibility. When a dock door is ready, it then requires a team member’s time to locate the truck.

“It’s the epitome of inefficiency,” Bolumole says.

Companies can improve their yard operations with one-off optimizations, such as improving the design and layout of their facilities, and with a yard management system to boost everyday, operational improvements.

Technology, in the form of yard management systems, is there to make yard processes efficient, using tools such as Internet of Things (IoT) and digital twins. A YMS also takes everyday operational data and constantly mines it, enabling a data-driven focus.

A more detailed look at the Kaleris YMS solution helps illuminate how yard management systems can bolster a critical element of many shippers’ supply chains.

Kaleris YMS: A flexible solution for dynamic supply chains

A YMS, like the one offered by Kaleris, can help shippers effectively plan, schedule, and coordinate yard activity, bringing greater agility to yard operations. YMS benefits include reductions in fuel costs, detention charges, and dwell time, among others.

Configuration flexibility is at the heart of what makes the Kaleris yard management system distinctive. Shippers can easily configure the solution to meet their unique operational needs and requirements, and every interface can be tailored to surface the information most relevant for that user.

“This level of flexibility makes the Kaleris YMS highly adaptable to support the dynamic conditions of a facility,” says Holland.

One example of the solution’s configuration flexibility is its Asset Operations feature, which can digitize a wide range of operational workflows. Instead of manually updating an asset’s status on a dry-erase board as it moves through its yard lifecycle, Asset Operations optimizes the process digitally.

By simply clicking on the asset, the system guides the facility team through the workflow, automatically updating the status after each step and simultaneously tying in other execution functionality.

“This is a great example of leveraging technology to connect processes and people for increased productivity,” Holland says. “The team is clear on what actions to take, making it easy for them to follow a process flow that optimizes yard utilization.”

With the Kaleris YMS, self-service features give shipper partners the freedom to schedule and manage their own appointments. Carriers can see current inventory and asset status, and drivers can initiate a check-in before or upon arrival at the facility.

“The YMS manages all these inputs to help shippers craft an optimal operations plan and execute it while keeping stakeholders informed,” Holland says.

Kaleris’ clients span a wide range, including large enterprise shippers with 25 to 50 facilities, regional shippers with 6 to 12 sites, and single-site operators—all using the Kaleris YMS to optimize yard operations.

For example, a national auto parts retailer launched the Kaleris YMS across their network of yards in 2023 and has successfully reduced detention charges, resulting in significant cost savings.

Meanwhile, the number-one producer of refrigerated sides in the United States leverages the Kaleris YMS to reduce its reefer load hours by nearly 40%, saving almost $500,000 in fuel in three months while also improving loaded-trailer tracking.

Eliminating the operational visibility gaps that act as obstacles to mitigating yard disruptions is a common challenge that Kaleris’ YMS users are targeting with the solution.

“By leveraging the Kaleris YMS, shippers are now able to proactively monitor and manage operations around assets, shipments, appointments, and drivers in the yard,” Holland says. “With watches, alerts, and notifications configured to their KPIs, such as managing trailer pool targets or mitigating detention, they can take preventive action.”
Kaleris YMS users also benefit from the seasoned team behind the solution.

“The Kaleris YMS is a proven solution, backed by more than 20 years of deep industry and on-the-ground experience,” Holland says. “We serve a wide variety of customers across all verticals, including food and beverage, grocery, automotive, CPG, manufacturing, and retail, and are extensively familiar with each operation’s unique needs.

“Our team of subject matter experts guides customers on how to realize the most value from the solution,” he adds. “Kaleris understands the importance of future-proof resources, and we build emerging trends and technology into our roadmap.”

YMS Solutions Continue to Evolve

Yard management systems are evolving into collaborative hubs that invite external partners—vendors, suppliers, carriers, freight forwarders, and drivers—into the process to create connections that reduce friction between nodes.

“Shippers of choice leverage two-way communication via the YMS to share important information that improves productivity,” Holland says. “Self-service features enable partners to make business decisions powered by real-time data without the need for manual administrative activities from the shippers.”

For shippers considering a YMS, Bolumole advises that they should ensure it can integrate seamlessly with their existing logistics tech systems. Yard management systems can look at real-time data to help optimize operations including arrival rates of trucks, space allocation in the yard, how many doors are available relative to how many trucks are received, how much labor is available to empty those trucks, and the number of workers on shifts relative to when trucks arrive.

For companies that struggle with meeting performance goals tied to those metrics, a yard management system is a particularly worthwhile consideration.

“If you cannot seem to match space allocation with arrival rates, or to match turnaround time with detention penalties,” Bolumole says, “then a YMS might top the list of things to consider.”