Why a WMS Yard Extension Falls Short at the Door and in the Yard

October 12, 2017

Quite simply, a warehouse management system (WMS) yard extension doesn’t provide the full YMS capability that many yard operations require. The primary reason for this shortfall is that a WMS yard extension is too rigid, especially when attempting to keep up with a dynamic yard and dock environment.

A WMS yard extension also lacks task/driver move logic. As a result, a WMS yard extension relies too heavily on human decisions — often via third-party providers — resulting in minimal to no optimization. It simply provides yard drivers a list of moves on a computer screen in their cab, and the driver then picks the move they want to perform.

Drivers picking moves far from ideal

If you invest in a WMS yard extension, you may think that you have best-in-class YMS, but in reality, you don’t.  What you miss are two huge capabilities that will only be achieved through real-time location system (RTSL) technology embedded within your YMS. Without RTSL, you lack:

  • Automatic trailer locating: ensures your yard drivers know where specific trailers are located, enables drivers to find them as fast as possible which, in turn, ensures that your yard is running as efficiently as possible.
  • Automatic yard tractor locating: the intelligent task logic built into your YMS that ensures your best yard drivers are assigned the best yard moves at just the right time.

With a WMS yard extension, for example, as soon as a driver picks the move they want, the system blocks it from being relocated by any other drivers in the yard. If a driver picks trailer A, that trailer will stay on the list (denoted with a change in color or other marking) until the move is completed.

The downside, in that case, is that the driver is picking the move they want, and not the system doing it for him in the most optimal way.  In addition, once the driver picks the move, he must then spend wasted time looking for the trailer. That can result in tens of thousands of dollars in overtime expense. On top of that, yards operated by a third-party company (as many yards today are managed) typically experience a high turnover rate among yard drivers themselves. That even further complicates your yard management efforts.

Yard cleanup is time wasted

Consider also the following yard management challenges:

  • Identifying trailers in the dark or during heavy snowstorms.
  • A yard full of trailers that all look alike.
  • Trailers that weren’t dropped in the proper locations by over the road drivers who merely drop trailers where it’s the most convenient.

Zoning and re-sorting zones in such cases can’t be relied on, and as a result, companies waste valuable time just cleaning up their yard. A best-in-class YMS solution can eliminate all of that.

In addition, third-party yard drivers are not necessarily concerned about your company, but only the requirements of their own company. Most likely, drivers are not concerned about or even aware of a company’s yard they’re working in. And newer drivers don’t really have a firm handle on what’s happening in the yard compared to the knowledge and skill of a ten-year veteran.

Thrown a list of moves via a WMS yard extension, an inexperienced driver has no clue as to which move to pick. The end result? Relying on yard drivers to manually pick their own moves leads to no yard optimization whatsoever.

So, here’s the bottom line. A WMS yard extension, especially when combined with third-party yard services, does not have the controls, systems, or accountability that your own personnel and dedicated systems can provide. As a result, if you don’t have proper reporting, you won’t have the level of detail required to make good decisions for highly efficient yard, dock or gate management.

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