Existing YMS Falling Short? Consider Adding Automatic Trailer Locating

February 14, 2017

Yard efficiency is clearly a top priority for any warehouse, distribution center (DC) or manufacturing operation.

However, there’s a chance that your existing yard management system (YMS)—whether it’s an outdated approach or an extension of your current warehouse management system (WMS)—may be falling short of expectations.

Critical to yard efficiency is the ability to track incoming and outgoing trailers. A majority of all warehouse, DC or manufacturing operations all need to locate specific trailers at some point so they can either be moved to or away from a particular dock door.

Regardless if they’re full of stored production line parts, or sitting empty, the ramifications of not knowing where a specific trailer is located are significant.

Potential real-world problems

For example, a paper manufacturer needs to effectively track and locate empty trailers, those containing pulp and chemicals, as well as outbound shuttles.

Other specific needs, or “hot” loads, might include poly wrap, cardboard boxes, and pallets, all of which need to be correctly positioned in the right locations for quick access.  If a pallet trailer is “lost”, for instance, that could potentially shut down an entire production line.

Companies that use trailers to store finished products and need to fulfill orders by accessing those trailers on short notice may even miss an entire customer delivery due to a “lost” trailer.

And the loss of sensitive or perishable products, such as a “lost” trailer full of frozen paint, actually cost one company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

So you can see that it pays to ask, “Is our existing YMS really performing up to expectations?”  If your answer is “no”, then the next big question is, “What’s missing?” What’s missing may indeed be your ability to track trailers automatically instead of relying on traditionally unreliable methods of yard inventory.

The need for automatic trailer locating

Instead of waiting until disaster strikes, take a few moments now to step back and thoroughly examine your existing YMS and current range of capabilities.

If you’re relying on an old YMS, or you’re operating a YMS module that’s an extension of your WMS, you’re not able to automatically locate trailers in your yard.

Even with an existing YMS, is your yard team periodically walking your yard to manually take inventory of your trailer locations?  And although your yard drivers might be clicking on a tablet screen that relies on GPS to record trailer locations via your YMS, that’s still not an automatic process and is subject to human error.

In addition, attempting to integrate some form of barcode trailer tracking system in the yard as an extension of the WMS you’re using within the four walls of your warehouse or DC is not exactly a viable solution either.

Faced with such a dilemma, the optimal solution is to take advantage of integrating your existing YMS with 4SIGHT’s automatic trailer locating capability.

Benefits include reducing human error

Automatic trailer locating essentially involves utilizing passive RFID tags on trailers that in turn communicate with corresponding RFID hardware on yard tractors.

With this technology, trailer locating and inventory is constantly occurring in real-time as yard trucks drive around the yard.  As the YMS continuously pings the RFID tags on trailers and associates their exact location via GPS into a live database, a proprietary algorithm then determines if a trailer is in the proper location with real-time updates.

There are several benefits from automatic trailer locating, including:

  • Yard drivers don’t even need to think about trailer locating as they go about their moves.
  • No further need for time-intensive manual yard walks to inventory trailers or to confirm in which spots or zones trailers ended up in.
  • No risk of human error from incorrect trailer placement.
  • No need for spotters to inefficiently drive around a yard hunting for a specific trailer, while wasting valuable time and costly fuel.

For example, a yard driver who’s in a hurry to end his shift might not drop a trailer where he’s instructed in spot 52 in zone 8.  Instead, he drops it in the closest open spot he can find, such as spot 125 in zone 3.  Automatic trailer locating will pick up that error immediately and correct it.  When that specific trailer is needed, a yard driver will know exactly where to find it.

Automatic trailer tracking includes a variety of ancillary benefits as well, such as:

  • Increased operations efficiency by moving trailers away from dock doors at a higher rate because they’re being unloaded or loaded much faster.
  • Locating the right trailer at the right time by zone to meet the needs of line production and to avoid costly shutdowns.
  • Specific and accurate directions for yard drivers resulting in better yard organization as well as knowing what is in each trailer and where it’s located.

Track your trailers more efficiently

If you’re lacking automatic trailer locating for your yard operation, 4SIGHT’s representatives can demonstrate how easy it is to dovetail 4SIGHT into your existing YMS or your WMS yard management module.

4SIGHT will run behind the scenes while you still operate only one system. The additional hardware and processes provided will efficiently and automatically track the locations of your trailers and integrate the flow of that data with and into your existing YMS.  Best of all, there’s no need for two separate computer screens in the yard truck cab or toggling back and forth between two systems.

Let us know how we can help you take advantage of all the benefits that automatic trailer tracking has to offer by contacting 4SIGHT today.

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