Yard management is an integral aspect of logistics operations that affects how quickly and effectively goods can be delivered. It makes sense, then, that a key priority for yard managers is maximizing uptime, or the percentage of time that assets, such as trailers, containers, and trucks, are available and in productive use. Let’s take a look at the most important aspects of yard management, the role asset tracking plays, and the different ways effective yard management promotes increased uptime and increased profits.
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Overview of Yard Management
Yard management is an aspect of trucking and logistics operations which involves the systematic organization, coordination, and optimization of activities within the transportation yard where trailers and critical equipment are stored between deployments. The key aspects of yard management include:
1. Managing Inbound and Outbound Flow. The arrival and departure of trailers, trucks, and equipment must be strategically coordinated to prevent congestion while maintaining schedules. This includes adapting to any early or late arrivals, attempting to minimize the downtime of individual assets, and ensuring that the proper staff is available to facilitate the necessary processes.
2. Optimizing Yard Layout and Design. The yard must be organized and maintained in a manner that facilitates easy access to loading docks and expedites movement throughout the site. Workers must be able to easily locate and access the trailers and equipment that they’re looking for to help schedules stay on track.
3. Isolating Trailers for Inspection and Repair. Yards are often responsible for the inspection and repair of trailers and other equipment. As part of yard management, workers must be able to isolate trailers and equipment that need to be inspected or repaired and conduct the necessary actions before their next deployment. All of this must be done without disrupting the yard’s other activities.
With all these aspects in mind, the primary goal of effective yard management is to promote ease of operations and maximize the utilization of resources through strategic planning and coordination. The yard must be a well-oiled machine that can stay on top of daily tasks while responding to the unexpected aspects of trucking and logistics. Clearly, this requires a complete understanding of yard activities and a high degree of responsiveness. To achieve this, many managers turn to some form of asset tracking.
The Role of Asset Tracking in Yard Management
At the heart of effective asset tracking is the use of advanced location tracking technologies such as GPS. GPS and similar technologies allow for accurate location tracking of assets, providing real-time information on their movements within the yard. This helps logistics managers monitor the status and location of assets in real time, providing complete visibility and control over the yard’s operations. When properly integrated with existing yard management systems and fully incorporated into daily processes, asset tracking technology lends itself to effective, efficient yard management and smooth daily operations.
One of the primary roles of asset tracking in yard management is to provide real-time monitoring and visibility of critical aspects. Logistics managers can use the system to access up-to-date information on the location and status of trailers, containers, equipment, and other assets within the yard. This real-time visibility enables them to track asset movements, identify any deviations from the planned schedule, and generally locate specific assets without having to physically search the entire yard.
Moreover, the data collected from asset tracking can be used to generate valuable reports and analytics. By analyzing tracking data, logistics managers can gain insight into yard operations, which can help them identify areas for potential improvement and make strategic decisions based on the data collected. It can also be used to generate reports on inventory levels and asset movement within the yard, which can help automate the process of optimizing asset usage by providing historical data for last movement, last deployment, last inspection, and even last round of maintenance.
This ready access to location data, condition data, and the derivative analytics can help bolster a yard management strategy by giving managers the tools they need to embrace a continuous improvement mindset. Without technology to help with the daily drudge of locating, moving, and sorting through trailers and other assets, there’s very little time to think about the future and gather the data needed to make strategic decisions. An asset tracking system helps automate these processes while simultaneously gathering the relevant data, making it easier for managers to try new approaches and quickly analyze the results.
How Effective Yard Management Increases Uptime
When your yard is effectively managed, you’ll begin to see a positive impact on your turnaround time and the amount of work you are able to accomplish within a day. Effective yard management increases uptime in a couple key ways.
Reducing Dwell Times
Dwell time refers to the duration that assets, such as trailers and containers, spend in the yard before being loaded, unloaded, or moved to their next destination. It is a critical metric in logistics, and it can significantly impact not just the yard itself, but the entire supply chain. When assets spend too much time in the yard, it leads to a bottleneck in the logistics chain, causing delays in the movement of goods and increasing the time it takes for shipments to reach their destinations. Reducing dwell time is essential for optimizing logistics operations and meeting customer demands in a timely manner.
By effectively managing your yard with asset tracking, dwell times can be quickly reduced. Trailer trackers are designed to alert managers when a trailer has arrived, which signifies the start of some task. If the trailer is empty, it likely needs to be loaded; if it is full, it might need to be unloaded; others might require inspections, maintenance, or simply scheduled down time. This alert means that workers can immediately begin or prepare for the required tasks, rather than only learning of the trailer’s arrival a few hours later. Trailer tracking also lets you know how long it’s been from a trailer’s last movement, which can then be used to establish a priority order. This helps increase uptime by ensuring each trailer is loaded, unloaded, or serviced in a timely manner so that they can be used for more deliveries and the yard can proceed to the next critical task.
Minimizing Trailer Detention
Trailer detention is similar to dwell time, but not entirely the same. Trailer detention refers specifically to the time that a trailer spends at a facility beyond the scheduled loading or unloading time. Dwell time is the time that occurs while the trailer is waiting for these tasks to be completed; detention time is the time that trailers sit idle after the necessary tasks are completed. This might occur for any number of reasons, most involving simply miscommunication or oversight on the part of workers. It is a widespread issue that can have a domino effect on the entire supply chain, leading to delayed shipments, increased transportation costs, and decreased customer satisfaction. It can also result in fees for carriers and reduced fleet efficiency.
Effective yard management can help you minimize trailer detention in much the same way that it can help you reduce dwell time, as both are ultimately a matter of keeping track of what’s been done and what needs to be done next. The last movement asset tracking features can help you identify trailers that have been sitting for extended periods. Also, if you designate a certain area of your yard for trailers that have already been loaded or unloaded, you can set up a geofence around that area to alert you when a trailer enters. That way, you know immediately when a trailer is ready to leave.
Improving Dock Door Turnaround
Dock door turnaround time refers to the duration it takes for a truck to complete the loading or unloading process at a warehouse or distribution center. It is not the time before or the time after; it is the time that the task itself takes once it has begun. Like extended dwell time and detention time, extended turnaround times can lead to delays in shipments, increased transportation costs, and reduced customer satisfaction. It’s important to have the hands and the tools necessary to complete this task once it has begun, especially since only so many trailers can be unloaded at a time.
Efficient scheduling and planning are essential for reducing dock door turnaround times and promoting uptime. Luckily, asset tracking is poised to help. Asset tracking data provides valuable insights into the arrival and departure times of trucks, allowing logistics managers to create efficient schedules and assign personnel accordingly. Asset visibility can also be used to identify when trailers are likely going to run late or run early, allowing managers to make informed adjustments in the schedule instead of remaining beholden to the one established before the day began. This makes the process of dock door loading and unloading far more responsive to the unexpected conditions of daily operations, letting yard managers make the most of their time no matter what happens.
Preventing Yard Congestion and Bottlenecks
Yard congestion and bottlenecks can disrupt the flow of goods, leading to delays, increased costs, and customer dissatisfaction. Yard congestion occurs when a high volume of assets occupy limited yard space. This congestion can hinder the movement of assets across the yard and the ability to get where they need to go for entrance, exit, loading, unloading, or maintenance. It is a physical blockage that results from a busy yard. Bottlenecks in yard operations refer to points in the yard where the flow of assets is restricted due to a blockage in the process, whether because something took longer than expected, something cannot be located, or another issue entirely.
However, with the right approach and technology, such as asset tracking, businesses can effectively prevent and mitigate yard congestion and bottlenecks. Asset tracking systems can be used to analyze flow patterns and truck movements to identify the areas that are most prone to both congestion and bottlenecks. They can then make the necessary changes to reduce the chance for blockages. Real-time visibility can also be used to remedy both problems, providing a “bird’s eye view” of operations so movement can be strategically planned around the assets present and a way of ensuring the efficiency of individual processes and location of necessary equipment. This increases uptime by reducing the amount of time spent “untangling” these blockages, and ideally improving operational efficiency as a whole.
Supporting Seamless Information Flow
Central to successful yard management is the seamless flow of information between various stakeholders, including warehouse staff, yard personnel, carriers, and drivers. Information flow refers to the smooth and accurate exchange of data and updates between all parties involved in yard operations. It includes essential elements such as real-time location tracking of assets, inventory status, truck arrivals and departures, and communication between individuals affected by these processes. Effective information flow is essential for avoiding delays, reducing idle times, and maximizing resource utilization in the yard; none of the goals we’ve discussed can be achieved without effective information flow.
In this digital age, asset tracking technology plays a vital role in enhancing information flow and optimizing yard operations. Asset tracking systems equipped with communication features facilitate better coordination, providing drivers with essential information about trailer assignments, dock availability, and delivery schedules. These systems automatically provide updates about the movement of assets throughout the facility, which can help workers know when, where, and how they’re needed. There’s no need to stop and ask for directions when all information is available at a central location. This streamlined information flow also helps managers keep customers informed about any potential delays or disruptions, as well as to provide updated delivery information.
Improve Yard Efficiency with AirFinder Everywhere
Link Labs provides a yard management solution through our AirFinder Everywhere system. With our system in place, you can set up geofences around and within the facility to alert you when trailers arrive or depart from a given zone. Our solution can also go beyond trailers, with tags appropriate for tools, equipment, containers, pallets, personnel, and more all available and able to operate on the same base system for even greater operational visibility. Our data and reporting features can also be used to help you make decisions to further improve operational uptime, and our platform is fully capable of integrating with existing yard management software and telematics systems to promote a thoroughly robust solution. Book a demo with our team to learn more about how AirFinder can work for your yard management needs and beyond