When we talk about warehouse and inventory management, we focus immensely on the interior of the warehouse itself. We talk about boosting efficiency through automation, improving processes, and increasing productivity by implementing warehouse management systems (WMS). Yet often we forget about the exterior of the warehouse, that is the yard, where trucks come in and out of the gate, go to docks for loading and unloading, park trailers, confirm loads, and more. When talking about warehouse management we should probably bring the yard into the conversation more often than we do.
Organizing and managing the tasks and processes of the yard is just as crucial as those of the warehouse itself. A yard management system, or YMS, can go a long way in delivering this organization. Unfortunately, YMS’ tend to be undervalued. Yet it’s through this undervaluation that organizations are forced to face the issues that arise from a lack of yard management. And as scale and complexity are introduced into the supply chain these challenges continue to grow. Yet what is a YMS and what benefits can be gained by implementing one?
A yard management system is designed to organize and track the logistics of the yard of the warehouse, central depot, or distribution center. It brings together the scheduling, coordinating, and directing of trucks/loads of the warehouse yard and docks.
The benefits derived from a YMS are numerous. Scheduling is one of the aspects that are greatly improved. Rather than having multiple points of contact through multiple emails with potential information gaps, that then need to be tracked down, the YMS can provide a carrier facing portal to manage this. Here the organization gives carriers, logistics providers, or customers access to the portal. Each one is provided with their own space where they can schedule appointments. From this space you can communicate and confirm the appointments, request or receive documents, and send out information to the drivers, like a scannable QR code so that details about the appointment can be easily confirmed as they arrive at the gate.
By consolidating the scheduling process, you gain immense visibility of the expected appointments, days or even weeks in advance. This reduces the need for tasks like constant checks of inbounds and outbounds and reconciling them with your schedule. As well if unforeseen variables arise, like truck breakdowns or other issues, you can quickly adjust appointments and inform drivers and warehouse staff quickly through the YMS.
A yard management system can greatly improve worker safety as well. Between trucks, trailer jockeys, and personnel moving about, the yard of a warehouse can be a busy environment. The busier the yard becomes the greater the chances of an accident happening. YMS’ reduce or eliminate the need for people walking the yard to do manual checks or tasks. Instead, everything can be reviewed from the comfort and safety of the warehouse or office. This not only makes the work of staff more efficient but adds a layer of safety to their job.
When it comes to efficiency a YMS helps to standardize your processes. Rather than doing things in a manual fashion where errors may occur or steps may be skipped, or even added, the YMS ensures that the workflows are consistent. This involves everything from load confirmations, inbound and outbound gate control and checks, dock assignments, and general throughput. The YMS thus ensures that each truck and driver entering the facility is checked-in and out in a consistent and organized fashion. This avoids issues like yard traffic congestion, misassignments, loss of time, and confusion. Furthermore, just like a WMS provides insights into your warehouse processes a YMS will produce actionable data so that you can adjust or improve yard associated processes and workflows.
Your YMS also improves and complements the efficiency of your WMS. It helps warehouse workers and managers plan and manage their workloads and gives greater visibility of the entire operation. It helps them understand what is expected during a given period, manage and prepare outbounds to coordinate with carriers, and flexibly adjust when unforeseen issues arise. This keeps the warehouse rolling smoothly while reducing downtimes and bottlenecks. The warehouse teams are thus more productive and proactive.
Most often the WMS and YMS are viewed as stand-alone systems that can then be integrated to support each other. Yet Akatia views the yard as part of the warehouse itself. This being the case Akatia has developed a YMS into the WAM warehouse management system. By taking this approach WAM managed warehouses have a completely holistic WMS that accounts for the entire warehouse environment, including the yard. There are huge advantages to this. For example, workflows between the yard and warehouse become seamless without the need of third-part integrations. Furthermore, data sharing and information is easily communicated and accessible by all parties without the necessity of moving from one system to another. In this way the entire facility supply chain and logistics management is consolidated, making it more efficient while at the same time reducing costs.
As we can see a yard management system helps not only optimize the yard environment but the warehouse facility as a whole. Yard management allows for better scheduling, real-time tracking, communication, enhanced safety, improved collaboration with logistics carriers, and standardizes processes. The YMS further provides actionable historical data to help managers plan better and predict outcomes. In all a YMS facilitates your WMS in managing the storage and fulfillment of inventory and creates a holistic approach for warehouse management overall.
If you’re planning to digitally transform your warehouse and need a WMS with YMS capabilities, or you have a WMS but need YMS functionality, get in contact with Akatia by clicking the link below. We’d be happy to speak with you.