What a 3PL Should Be Looking for in a Yard Management Software and Why

Written by: 
Kimberly Mertlich
Posted on: 
April 6, 2020

More than ever before, it’s crucial that our global supply chain is doing everything possible to streamline the, deconsolidation, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery processes. With so many software solutions available, it can be challenging to differentiate between what will work best for your company and where you might need to streamline your operations. Have you considered the impact of your current yard management processes? Do you have a yard management software solution? If not, there are several areas to consider. We’ve narrowed down four areas 3PL providers should look for when shopping around for a YMS (Yard management system).

1. Global Visibility of All Your Facilities with Your Assets

Running multiple facilities and working with multiple clients means there is a lot of information being tracked and documented. Do you have one system to track visibility into all locations? All facilities can be viewed from one yard management system with your entire network inventory. Global data access is another perk that your selected customers, carriers, and vendors can all have access to, making a yard management solution and easy choice to add to your digital software portfolio.

2. Integration, Implementation, and Automation

Integration and implementation can be a challenge pain point when starting up a any new software. Some systems take several months to implement, others claim a few weeks, what can you trust? Additionally, what systems does a YMS integrate with? And where does automation play into the process? As with any new addition, reallocating your time to this process is an important consideration. Be realistic in your expectations and communicate those to your potential YMS vendor. Make sure you know the full scope of integration and automation capabilities before picking your yard software.

3. Reporting and Analytics

Data is king, we’ve all heard it before, and we will say it again. Knowing your yard turn times, dwell times, dock load/unload times and detention/demurrage fees help you to make better business decisions. What about driver management? Keeping tabs on staff productivity will highlight where improvements can be made and a yard management solution should be able to track every aspect of your yard. From contents of trailers to dock scheduling processes and drivers, a robust reporting feature is essential to drive cost savings. Ask how much custom reports cost, and how quickly they can be delivered?  Its your data, so consider what you want from it, and how your YMS vendor can deliver it to you.

4. New Sites and Setup

As most companies strive for growth, what is the process to set up a new site location, or overflow yard? How long does it take, can I do it myself, and does it cost extra? Be sure to ask your YMS vendor these questions before you grow so you’re not investing in something that can sustain down the line. How flexible is the platform and can I add or remove values and parameters based on each facilities specific profile and needs.  Make sure not to get boxed in to one YMS vendors setup and be forced to jam your facility in to their configuration.   You need to make sure you can decide what you need configured.

“The term ‘third-party logistics provider’ means a person who solely receives, holds or otherwise transports a consumer product in the ordinary course of business but who does not take title to the product” according to the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.  The whole purpose of a 3PL is to provide a service to their customers.   This service is very important as the customer is putting their product in possession of some other company for a certain period of time to move from one point to another in their supply chain.   As a 3PL provider, the more real time visibility and information you can provide your customer the more comfortable they become with you (the 3PL) servicing their needs.  

As more and more companies, both large and small, move towards using a 3PL to handle their logistical needs, a Yard Management Software system provides a key link in the supply chain to give customers visibility to their product.   Having a well integrated YMS allows you to provide real time updates to your other systems, ERP, TMS, WMS or whatever system you are integrated with to give your customers, vendors, carriers, and management team real time information about their product and assets.  Having a software that can produce this data for your business will save money and resources.  Freight is often moved from trailer to trailer and spot to spot while in the yard.   A supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so it’s important that a good YMS is in place to play a key link in the supply chain.