What is a Yard Management System (YMS)?

Written by: 
Kimberly Mertlich
Posted on: 
January 28, 2020

Outside of the warehouse or distribution center is a yard full of trucks and trailers. A yard management system monitors the movement of trucks and trailers in the yard and tracks important data including who brought it in, who owns it, where it is, what’s on it, how long it’s been there, where it’s supposed to be and when. Yard management just might be the most expensive mile in transportation.

Regardless of industry, every company deals to some degree with manufacturing, distribution, warehousing and transportation all connected with several different software systems that hopefully work well together. From fleet management systems, warehouse management systems (WMS), transportation management systems (TMS) and GPS tracking, what is a yard management system and what role does it play in the supply chain?

What Does a Yard Management System Do?

The ultimate benefit of a yard management system is visibility into the trailers located on the yard and better communication between purchasing warehousing, sales, operations and accounting. You may be surprised that large, sophisticated companies use legal pads, grease boards, card racks or Excel spreadsheets to manage hundreds of inbound and outbound trailers. In such a dynamic environment, physical inventories become obsolete moments after completion. Manual yard management can really cause unnecessary charges and wasted time in the yard. Who has time for that in a modern society with “need it now” expectations?

Let’s take a look at the benefits of utilizing an internet based yard management system.

9 Benefits of Yard Management Software

1. Visibility

A yard management system provides real-time visibility into the assets on your yard including location, contents of the containers, number counts, time at dock and helps keep the movement in your yard efficient. Everyone on your network has access to what is on the yard through their web browser. No need for phone calls, faxes and e-mails - the information is always ready and available.

2. Reduced Lot Check Time

Print a check list of everything in inventory by location and the lot check is finished in half the time. Direct labor savings and planned trailer movements can now start sooner.

3. Reduced Detention and Demurrage Expenses

Some think of detention and demurrage expenses as one in the same because they are both charged daily per container per day but they are distinctly different. Detention fees occur when a truck stays too long at the pickup or delivery location based on carrier. Demurrage expenses are when equipment is used past the allotted amount of time.

A yard management system allows your to automatically calculate time in inventory to monitor detention and demurrage charges and ensure products are ready when they need to be and equipment is staying too long. This will eliminates the congestion cause by staying too long and minimize if not completely eliminate potential fees. You can even have e-mail alerts to remind you the clock is ticking.

4. Faster Trailer Spotting

With loads constantly coming and going each day, it can be difficult to keep track of every trailer status. Knowing when a trailer needs to be requested to (or away) from a door is easy with a yard management system, increasing the number of items that can get staged and loaded every day.

5. Reduced Turn Times

The visibility of a yard management system and fast trailer spotting helps keep your yard running at optimal efficiency and increases the number of trailers you can get in and out. Being organized in the yard is crucial to avoid congestion.

6. Driver Management

The current ELD mandate is already tracking drivers from the time they start their engine to the time it turns off and everything in between but that does not help them in the yard. Yard jockeys can move through the yard efficiently with a yard management system and utilize metrics to track their own progress. Managers can also tap into reports to see how their team is doing pinpoint areas of opportunity to create the most successful environment.

7. Gate Management

Every transaction at the gate is recorded. Missing little details at a gate check can prevent access on the other end, lost time for carriers and frustration for everybody. A yard management system ensures the required information is captured and in return, you have faster gate checks with little to no mistakes. Of course there is always the possibility for human data entry errors but with a digital record, corrections can be found and implemented much faster.

8. Dock Management

Scheduling appointments is necessary for dock management and yard management to seamlessly integrate. Fortunately, yard management software includes a dock scheduling solution to prevent empty trailers and drivers from sitting around. You know what’s ready, and what’s not.

9. Analytics, ROI, and Reporting Metrics

With all transactions, schedules and gate checks recorded in the software, reporting couldn't be easier to really gauge how well your operational efficiency is and where improvements can be made. A yard management system helps teams to view graphs and charts in a simplistic way that tells a powerful message.

How Yard Management Software Works

Barcodes and radio frequency identification (“RFID”) tags are used to track the location and contents of trailers, however there is a lot of debate on which is better. While RFID in yard management may seem like a no brainer, the costly addition is unnecessary in most cases and the biggest impact of utilizing RFID is expense. Each tag has a price and you need specific hardware to ensure it functions properly. Click here to learn more about the use of barcodes in yard management.

Is Augmented Reality in the Future of Yard Management?

Logistivew is an augmented reality visuals and voice system that is changing the way warehouses operate and function, increasing put rates by 20% with training in 15 minutes or less. Operations staff are more connected and wear specific small devices, similar to glasses with an attached earpiece allowing them to hear instruction as well as see where in the warehouse to go. Studies confirm that humans learn much faster through visuals over audio, 65% of the population are visual learners and visuals can improve learning by up to 400% stimulating imagination and faster processing in the brain. Paired with audio, no wonder augmented reality is increasing productivity in the warehouse.

Imagine the yard is a warehouse and pair that with augmented reality. Not only do you have a great software telling you on tablets and desktops where everything is located and/or scheduled to arrive or depart, now you can be at the dock or in the yard with these glasses and just look up with the naked eye to see any trailer you are looking for. Additionally, what if you could now see what dock you need to get to just by looking at the doors instead of down at the tablet? These efficiencies could make a big impact and transform the way yard management operates today.