Who's in Charge of the Operations Yard? How to Tackle the Last Mile of the Supply Chain

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November 12, 2021

Aerial view of a container yard as yard drivers and fork lift drivers move container assets

The success of implementing and successfully tackling the last mile of the supply chain is critical to the long-term success of your yard management system. The key to having a seamless last mile delivery is through automating your yard management system. This article is going to discuss the importance on improving last mile logistics, last mile delivery best practices, and how yard automation impacts the success of your yard operations.

Who’s in Charge of the Operations Yard?

Within an operations yard, a Yard Operations Manager oversees the entire operations process. However, with multiple moving parts happening in the yard, it is impossible for one manager to oversee everything in the yard. Everyone is responsible for their part in the yard by ensuring their tasks are completed successfully to complete a last mile delivery. The Yard Operations Manager requires oversight from everyone in the yard by collecting status updated, data insight, and tools from essential personnel. When everyone in the yard is moving efficiently and is swiftly getting tasks done, it will result in a seamless last mile delivery to the end-user.

What is the Last Mile of the Supply Chain & Why is it Important?

Blue semi-truck trailer containers parked and lined up in a row sitting in an operations yard

The last mile of the supply chain is considered a crucial last step of logistics because if it is not executed properly, it can significantly impact the customer experience. The last mile delivery is the step where the package is received at the hands of the customer and is the only step that they see in the supply chain process. From distribution to delivery, the last mile does not end until the package is on the doorstep of the customer. It is important to note that customers appreciate and prefer speedy deliveries. How can this happen? Through automation and technological advances to make the supply chain more effective and efficient.

How to Tackle the Last Mile of the Supply Chain

To improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the last mile delivery in your supply chain logistics process, it is critical to understand the following key steps that need to be taken to tackle the last mile successfully.

  1. Identifying Problems.
  2. Centralizing and Integrating Data.
  3. Innovating and Automating.
  4. Implementing Driver Management.
  5. Incorporating 3PL Partners.
  6. Implementing a Plan and Basic Procedures.

These next few sections will go more in-depth on each step toward how to improve the last mile of your supply chain.

Identify Where Problems in Your Last Mile Logistics Originate

A warehouse distribution center worker walking around the warehouse floor with a clipboard checking inventory

Identifying problems within your supply chain and implementing improvements will drastically impact the last mile delivery and improve customer satisfaction. Before the last delivery, take a step back and determine where the problem originated: the distribution center, the warehouse, the operations yard, or somewhere else in the pipeline. Once you have discovered the source of the problem, you can learn and understand what caused the issue and come up with solutions to resolve it.

Centralize & Integrate All of Your Logistics Data

When data is integrated and combined into one cohesive unit, finding what you are looking for will become much more accessible, smoothing future processes in the long run. Currently, you may be accessing different data collections across multiple software across the warehouse, transportation, and operations yard. Instead of hopping to and from different software platforms, centralize the data into one system so you then have a top-level, eagle eye view of what is happening on the ground. With this newfound grasp, the centralized data can provide you with important insights on what is happening in the yard and what can be implemented to further improve processes, ensuring a smooth last mile delivery.

Leverage Modern Technologies & Automate Key Tasks

Sometimes it can be difficult navigating away from traditional filing systems including stacks of paper and clipboard spreadsheets. However, stepping into the future by leveraging modern technologies including YMS, WMS, and TMS will drastically improve your yard operations, making each step smoother and automating steps throughout the process. The statement “Work smarter, not harder” has never been truer when you choose to automate key tasks and letting the systems do most of the work. When you integrate your yard management system with WMS, TMS, or ERP systems, they can automate reporting and scheduling, manage driver dispatch or route planning, provide status updates, and track your inventory and assets throughout the supply chain.

Improve Driver Management Systems

Since your drivers are a critical component of the last mile delivery, it is important to update and improve your driver management systems. This will allow you to keep a real-time track of updates for your truck drivers and yard drivers, as well as streamline communication between the distribution center and the customers’ doorstep. Additionally, this will allow for you to monitor their performance and come up with ways to enhance productivity in the future.

Partner with a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Vendor

Rows of a fleet of blue and white semi-trucks offered by a 3PL vendor

If you are unsure of who they are, a third-party logistics vendor (or 3PL Vendor) are partners who work with you to improve your ecommerce store’s supply chain. Rather than managing and operating distribution in-house, a 3PL Vendor holds your inventory in their allocated warehouse. Once a purchase is made, items are automatically shipped from the vendor’s warehouse to your customer, automating the entire distribution and supply chain process. 3PL Vendors enhance your last mile logistics by fulfilling orders and overseeing final transportation for the last mile delivery. The benefits of using a 3PL Vendor include reduced shipping costs, decreased overhead costs, and improve or maintain customer satisfaction.

Develop a Plan, Implement it, and Establish Basic Operating Procedures

Once you have determined and identified improvement measures to streamline the last mile of your supply chain, it is time to put your plan into action. One way to get your plan ready for implementation is by establishing Standard Operating Procedures (otherwise known as SOPs). These basic operating procedures can eliminate a lot of questions and speed up yard decisions and processes. Once you have operating procedures in place, all personnel will understand what needs to be done whenever a question is asked, establishing performance benchmarks, and putting best practices into place. Additionally, SOPs allow the opportunity to compare planned performance versus actual performance.

How Can Yard Management Software Help Improve the Last Mile of the Supply Chain?

Across the industry, the operations yard is referred to as the ‘Black Hole’ of the supply chain from creating problems within the last mile delivery. If not handled properly and effectively, the black hole can cause long lasting issues to your supply chain and negatively impact customer satisfaction. A poorly managed operations yard is caused by the following:

A way to attack these problems head on and ensure the success of your yard operations is by implementing and automating your YMS software, because it boosts visibility, reduces expenses and fees, decreases turnaround times, enhances accountability, and provides real-time analysis so you can improve your yard operations before the package arrives at the customers’ door.

What is the Best Yard Management Software on the Market Today?

A computer laptop sitting on a table with the YardView Yard Management Software System logo on the screen

For more than 20 years, YardView has established itself as the industry leader by providing advanced innovative and automated solutions for your operations yard. Our YMS software is easy to install, easy to adopt, reduces detention and demurrage fees, improves trailer spotting, enhances yard visibility, and streamlines yard driver communication with 24/7 cloud-based client access and technical support. With our solution, you will automate key tasks that are based on yard inventory, and prioritize responsibilities based on scheduled reports that will deliver constant monitoring and alerting as needed. The YardView YMS system is second to none. We are a best-of-breed yard management software on the market today and will continue to hold that crown by always offering you the highest standard of yard management. Learn more below!

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