Companies that operate a warehouse facility know that yard management is an important part of your overall operations. But if your yard management system (YMS) still involves manual checks and Excel spreadsheets, it’s time to think about how much better it could be. The right logistics software could help your team better manage the flow of traffic and goods in and out of your warehouse, and protect the personnel who come and go—your team and the delivery drivers—to ensure their safety.
Some companies have a kind of hybrid system, where you have some computer software to help with the yard management process but still do a lot of things manually. Here are four reasons that it’s time to ditch that old-school approach and go with new YMS that could help improve your overall operations.
Let’s start with the most important thing that you will get from a comprehensive yard management software solution: the safety of your team members. There is a lot of traffic in and out of your facility, and without a software program to help you manage vehicles and inventory, your employees have to walk through the yard to do manual checks. This puts them at risk for injury in a bustling environment where it might be hard for drivers to see people on the ground.
You can also collect data on things like yard truck speed, as well as everyone who enters and exits. This can help if something goes wrong and you need to produce a record of who was in your facility on a given date at a specific time.
All warehouse operations strive for better efficiency, and yard management software is one of the easiest ways to have an immediate impact on so many areas of your overall operations. It can help streamline multiple functions:
- Appointment scheduling – shippers and carriers can easily use your system to review and schedule appointments. This eliminates the need for time-consuming and costly back-and-forth by email and phone with your employees.
- Cross-dock processing – bring your warehouse and yard scheduling together with efficient door-dock scheduling that allows you to move more materials through your facility. Many warehouse facilities have both systems, but they are separate and don’t work well together, so your employees have to manually transfer information back and forth between the two systems.
- Automated notifications – carriers and 3PLs want information about their shipments and expect it to come in real time. If your employees are currently sending notifications out via email, you can eliminate these time-consuming tasks with automated communications.
- Improved accuracy – automating tasks that you have done manually can improve the accuracy of information in your system by removing the chance for error in data entry, download, upload, or data transfer between systems.
- Reporting – keeping tabs on what is happening is critical to improve operations, but if you do most of your tasks manually or through various disjointed software systems it can be hard to get valuable data. A streamlined system can provide better information to help you make informed decisions that improve performance and efficiency.
Better Visibility of Your Overall Operations
Companies that have effective yard management software systems have a greater degree of visibility into their overall operations.
One of the biggest challenges for a warehouse facility is the scale of your operations and the size of your facility (or facilities). Delivery trucks are coming and going, productsare moving in and out of the warehouse, and it can be difficult to keep it all in sync. Delays, bottlenecks, and inefficiencies can have a ripple effect that frustrates staff and could be costing you money or customers in the long run.
Yard managers and facility managers who don’t have software to help them see the entire operation at a glance are wasting valuable time every single day. The real-time visibility that you get with YMS helps you:
- Avoid “lost” trailers sitting somewhere in the yard (and manual efforts to find them)
- Track down missing shipments and inventory
- Look at the operational status of various loads in an instant
- Find excess capacity and empty trailers to move outbound loads
Instant visibility and data also means that when something isn’t working the way it should, you have the information you need to pinpoint where and why it’s happening so you can deploy resources to correct it without causing further delays.
The final reason to consider upgrading to a better yard management software solution is cost. Many companies mistakenly believe that they are saving money by using old, outdated systems or a patchwork of disparate software programs that are already “paid for,” but that’s not the reality.
Investing in a new software solution today can actually save you money in several ways because it:
- Eliminates maintenance costs to upgrade and update an aging software program
- Protects your data with improved security
- Creates consistency in your processes so everyone is performing tasks in the most efficient way possible, and you can easily train new employees on how things work in your yard
- Reduces or eliminates time-consuming manual tasks that employees have to perform, and that take them away from other critical job functions
- Allows you to process shipments and loads quicker so you can move more product in and out of your warehouse, increasing profits
- Helps you collaborate more effectively with your carriers and 3PL providers because your systems are up to date