What is a Yard Management System (YMS)?

In today's complex supply chain Yard Management Systems are critical for efficient yard operations. This article explores how a modern YMS improves time visibility and automation, ensuring trucks, trailers, and cargoes move smoothly.

aerial view of industrial warehouse

Consider a vast distribution center. Trucks continuously move in and out, carrying shipments that need to be processed, stored, or shipped. Every minute trucks spend waiting at the gate or shipments sit unattended on the dock, the business loses money. With the supply chain becoming increasingly complex, expectations from logistics are higher than ever. Like other parts of the supply chain, the yard must match the pace of technological advancements. Otherwise, it can quickly become the bottleneck.

A modern yard management system allows companies to streamline their yard management processes, ensuring maximum warehouse efficiency and benefiting the overall supply chain.

What is a Yard Management System?

A Yard Management System (YMS) is a specialized software solution focused on overseeing, optimizing, and streamlining yard activities inside a warehouse. Think of it as the air traffic controller of a busy airport but for trucks, trailers, and cargoes.

One of YMS' benefits is to provide real-time visibility into the yard operations. It helps logistics managers find out the exact location of a trailer, get the status of dock doors, or even forecast potential bottlenecks in advance. This bird's-eye view is precious. It helps not only for immediate plan Bs but also for long-term strategic planning.

Then there are the optimization capabilities of YMS, which unlock the next level of supply chain agility. Instead of manual processes, which are prone to human error, delays, and inefficiencies, YMS brings in the power of automation in the yard. Automation ensures that every yard process, from inbound to outbound deliveries, operates like a machine.

The contribution of YMS doesn't end inside the yard. A YMS indirectly strengthens other parts of the supply chain, like warehousing and distribution. A delay in the yard can cascade into delays across the supply chain, resulting in missed timelines, higher costs, and disappointed customers.

If you want to dive more into the topic, we have created a complete guide on yard management.

What are the Challenges in Traditional Yard Management?

With the standard yard management practice, many companies still rely heavily on age-old manual processes. The question arises: What challenges do these traditional methods pose in today's fast-paced logistics landscape?

First and foremost, manual processes, by their very nature, are inefficient. When the yard processes are manual, a spotter usually runs around the yard, using paper lists to check trailers' positions or talking through walkie-talkies to manage cross-dock operations. These methods are highly time-consuming. Add to that the external variables like weather changes or unexpected equipment failures, and the job becomes even more challenging and inefficient.

When the tasks are manual, human error is another big concern. Even the most diligent employees can make mistakes, misplace documentation, or overlook a crucial yard check. The ripple effect of such oversights can range from delayed shipments and misrouted trucks to missed delivery windows or even more.

Then, there's the challenge of gate management and routing. In bigger facilities, trucks queue, waiting to enter, unload, or pick up cargo. Without a yard management system, this leads to long waiting times, increased fuel consumption, demurrage charges, and unhappy drivers.

The challenges in traditional yard management highlight a pressing need: automating and streamlining operations. A reactive approach to such challenges will only make the situation worse. Instead, proactive yard management solutions that predict issues and optimize yard processes are the way forward.

Further reading: Why Yard Management Systems are inevitable in your supply chain
aerial view of goods storage at yard warehouse
Automated Time Slot Management and Dock Scheduling Software
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Take control and enhance your yard operations with GoRamp Yard Management Software
Take control and enhance your yard operations with GoRamp Yard Management Software

4 Factors Affecting Yard Management Software Costs

The price tag of the YMS can vary based on several factors. Here are the 4 types of costs that a YMS might incur:

  1. Complexity: The size and complexity of your operations play a significant role. A smaller facility with a straightforward process can work with a simpler, less expensive solution. However, a massive complex with complex routing for hundreds of vehicles would need a more refined system, increasing the cost.
  2. Software Solutions and Subscription Type: An off-the-shelf YMS company or a customized solution can be a factor for the varying costs. While both will require system maintenance, there can be differences in licensing requirements, like a one-time licensing fee or a recurring monthly or yearly subscription for cloud-based offerings.
  3. Integration Needs: The next factor that determines the cost is integration. How much and how well does the YMS play with your existing infrastructure? Integration can add to the price if you have legacy systems or proprietary software. Cloud-based or SaaS solutions offer flexibility and scalability with monthly or yearly pricing models.
  4. Training: Implementing a new system requires training staff. Whether it's the yard truck drivers, gate personnel, or logistics managers, ensuring everyone is up-to-speed with the latest software is crucial.

While YMS has a setup cost, the long-term gains can provide substantial savings. GoRamp has flexible agreements and a 90-day money-back guarantee. It offers efficiency, flexibility, and unbeatable pricing compared to competitors like Opendock.

How to Integrate a Yard Management Service into a Warehouse: A Phase-wise Approach

Getting a new Yard Management System (YMS) into a warehouse is like adding a new pillar to a structure: it strengthens the building, but the transition must be smooth. So, how does one successfully integrate a YMS into an existing warehouse operation?

Pre-implementation Process:

Before diving into a new YMS integration, a solid yard management process foundation should be in place. It begins with the process blueprinting, which provides an understanding of current warehouse processes like inbound and outbound flows, bottlenecks, and technological landscape.

Next, gathering feedback from stakeholders on the ground, such as yard truck drivers, dock managers, and warehouse teams, can provide valuable insights. Understanding present and future needs ensures that the YMS aligns with the warehouse's objectives.

Implementation Phase:

During the implementation, several factors can decide whether it is successful or not. Here are the factors that must be kept in mind while implementing the YMS:

  1. Interlinking Systems: Warehouse operations are critical and highly time-bound. So, while adding a new YMS, seamlessly connecting with the Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transportation Management Systems (TMS), and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platforms should be ensured. It helps ensure connected operations and real-time data flow to all the systems.
  2. Implementing Trackers along with YMS: With the technological backing of RFID and barcode systems, assets within the yard become traceable in real-time. This facilitates quick decision-making and better space utilization.
  3. Ecosystem of Real-time Alerts: Setting up real-time notifications ensures stakeholders remain informed. Instant updates can drastically improve reaction times, be it an unexpected delay, a dock becoming available, or an unscheduled truck arrival.
  4. Enabling Teams: Teams across the company should be educated about the YMS and given hands-on experience. Adoption of the early users decides whether the project becomes a success or not.

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Post-Implementation Support:

The period right after the implementation of the YMS is crucial. While the initial phase may have ensured a smooth integration, teams often have a learning curve to adapt thoroughly. Here are some points to keep in mind:

  1. Ongoing Training and Workshops: Continuous training sessions should address any uncertainties and ensure that teams make the most of the new system. Immediate training can bridge knowledge gaps that emerge during the initial weeks of integration.
  2. Dedicated Support Teams: A dedicated YMS support team is essential during the transitional phase. This team can swiftly address real-time issues, provide troubleshooting, and gather feedback for further system refinements.
  3. Feedback Loops: Establishing structured feedback mechanisms with regular check-ins with ground teams, managers, and other stakeholders. This constant feedback ensures that the system evolves per the warehouse's dynamic needs.
yard aerial view

5 Ways to Prove the ROI of a New Yard Management Software 

While investing in any new YMS system, the company should ascertain that it really provides the ROI it promises. After all, the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

But how does one tangibly measure the return on investment (ROI) of a Yard Management System? Here are the top 5 parameters to look for:

  1. Operational Cost Savings: The reduced operating expenses post-YMS integration indicate YMS's success, like savings from reduced demurrage charges, manual work, and better yard space optimization. Comparing these KPIs before and after YMS adoption provides a tangible measure of financial benefits.
  2. Increased Throughput and Efficiency: Evaluate the growth in trucks or shipments processed daily after YMS implementation versus the past averages. YMS should show better efficiency, leading to higher revenues without increasing operational costs.
  3. Inventory Holding Cost Reduction: YMS can minimize the need for safety stocks by enhancing real-time visibility and reducing lead times. Compare the reduction in inventory management and holding costs post-YMS implementation.
  4. Downtime and Delays: By streamlining operations and ensuring optimal appointment scheduling, the YMS can drastically cut downtime, ensuring smoother and cost-effective operations. Quantify the reduction in yard-related delays and its cost implications. 
  5. Stakeholder Satisfaction Metrics: While not always an immediate financial ROI, the satisfaction levels of drivers, yard managers, and warehouse teams are a solid qualitative improvement and a long-term ROI. Improving stakeholder satisfaction boosts efficiency and cuts costs, ultimately benefiting the bottom line.

Becoming Future Ready with a YMS

The yard has become crucial for the supply chain's operational efficiency, acting as a bridge between transportation and warehousing. A Yard Management System is inevitable and has transformative powers for making any yard more efficient.

Imagine a world where real-time visibility is standard. Warehousing is free from the chaos of unpredictable delays and inefficiencies. This is becoming a reality for many companies recognizing and harnessing a modern Yard Management Software, like GoRamp. Contact us today to know how your yard can be future-ready, setting your supply chain and business for success.

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