What Bottlenecks Can Be Removed When You Install A Yard Management Software System

Written by: 
Nate Harris
Posted on: 
May 19, 2023

Image of trucks lined up behind each other with cargo trailers piled up in the background

Operations are often complex, dynamic, and moving very quickly when it comes to the docks, yard, warehouse, or distribution center.  Any challenges or issues that arise in the day-to-day functions can create bottlenecks that may take hours or even days to unravel.  Bottlenecks can occur at the gate, in the yard, at the docks, and inside the warehouse or distribution center causing slowdowns for all parties involved. The operation may come to a halt, carriers may incur detention, raw materials may not be available for manufacturing, and outbound loads may miss their departure times. Bottlenecks are a huge issue that affects the overall success and efficiency of any operation. When your processes are managed and driven by today’s best software, like a yard management system, you can help alleviate and remove bottlenecks before they occur. Let’s dive deeper into the areas of an operation where bottlenecks occur, why they occur, and how to remove them with today’s best software tools.  

What Areas of the Yard Have Bottlenecks

Bottlenecks can occur in all areas of warehouses and distribution centers. Inside the buildings, as well as the outside operations.

Some include:

At the Entrance and Exit Gates - If the process at the gates is unable to move arrivals and departures through quickly while capturing necessary data and information, you may have an issue. Some yards have hundreds of inbound and outbounds a day. If the number often tries and exits multiplied by the time it takes to process the arrivals and departures is equal to more than the operations hours, it just won’t work. For example – 300 inbounds times 4 minutes per inbound is 1200 minutes. Divide that by 60 minutes and you get 20 hours. If your operation isn’t 24 hours a day, you may have a problem.

At the Docks for Unloading– Most arrivals with goods will need to get to a door for unloading. Depending on the number of dock doors, the time it takes to unload, the number of receivables in each time period, and your dock personnel or available equipment to perform the task, you may be upside down on the time required to avoid bottlenecks. Add in an issue with the process or a shortage in staff, and you are fighting a bottleneck.

Yard Capacity – If you have assets waiting for pickup, storage trailers that always take up space, or unique layouts to your yard, you may have issues with space. If you have too many assets in the yard, and more are coming in, this creates a multitude of issues.

Through-Put and Traffic Flow: If your operations do not process things quickly or have challenges with the flow of the inventory, including multiple touches and poor visibility of the location and status of trailers, this can cause bottlenecks.

Outbound Side Loading - It may start in the warehouse and bleed into the yard when the pace and the plan on the outbound side are not adhered to. When assets are not loaded and moved away from the door, and then picked up according to plan, you end up with plugged doors that will stop further outbound progress and create a congested yard with loaded assets waiting for pickup.

These are some key areas of the yard to analyze first and identify if there is a problem. The issues are often closely tied to one another, causing a domino effect of issues.

Why Do Bottlenecks Occur

Image of three workers in the yard, discussing the next steps over a laptop

Bottlenecks occur when there are insufficient tools, communication, processes, and systems that hinder the flow of operations. Many of today’s operations rely on the tribal knowledge of only a few resources to keep processes moving, understand what needs to occur next, and handling of all exceptions. Also, processes may be defined but not followed. Carriers may arrive early, late, or at any-and-all time of the day or night. Gates may have to perform tasks that are just not manageable quickly, with no process at all, and no plan for handling exceptions. Dock visibility, including a view of what is occupying a door, how long it has been there, and the status of the loading or unloading process is unknown and inconsistent. Yard visibility to information like how many empties, storage trailers, or loads waiting to get to a dock is a blackhole. Communication between departments is non-existent or only information that one department cares to share with the other is known. Overall, bottlenecks occur for a variety of reasons, all of which seem difficult or impossible to tackle. However, with today’s best YMS systems, all areas and processes are accounted for and will help achieve greater performance and efficiencies.

How You Can Remove Bottlenecks From Your Operation

Image of traffic congestion with trucks

Below are tried and true practices that will help you to take steps at removing bottlenecks in the operation. Keep in mind, the right tool will help you design and adhere to a plan that works for all.

  • Create a process for all users and departments to follow- The right tool will guide the creation of the process and when all users are working in the same system, visibility, information, and data will drive success.
  • Utilize a system to execute the process- Software systems are the foundation of the process and where all tasks and work is performed, within the bounds of the process.
  • Communicate- Again, the software system is the platform for communication. When tasks are performed, changes made, and plans developed, all users can see and are updated in real-time.
  • Accountability- A software system will record who did what, when, and how long processes take, and help departments to work together.
  • Stick to the Process- It can’t be said enough- with the right systemin place, the processes are more easily followed and executed, while managing the complexities of the entire operation.

Additional Thoughts on Bottlenecks In The Yard And Working With A YMS Provider

Image of two employees talking in the yard. One has a clipboard and the other has a laptop

Complex, fast-paced, and active operations will encounter bottlenecks at times.  Busy season, resource issues, projects that disrupt the normal flow, and other factors that are hard to account for will occur.  The ability to monitor the operation and proactively make changes, when necessary, can reduce the impact on your operations and help achieve greater efficiencies.  The insights from a comprehensive yard management system including visibility, data analysis, reporting, departmental accountability, and identifying problems before they become a bigger issue are all available in the best-of-breed yard management systems.  

Taking the first steps to solve common problems may be simply making a phone call and discussing your operation with industry experts.  

With over 25 years of service and a team that has solved the challenges of hundreds of sites, the experts at YardView yard management software are eager to help.  We offer a solution that is affordable with a quick return on your investment (ROI) and can be installed in weeks.  We start by identifying your most pressing issues, custom configuring a system to your requirements, and then building on the success for years and the duration of our partnership.  

YardView yard management solution integrates with any system, including any WMS, TMS, RTTVP,ERP, and more.  

To learn more and schedule a call or demonstration, contact us today at 303-781-3430 or on the web at yardview.com .

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