Knowing What You Need: Best-Of-Breed YMS OR WMS Yard Module?
There are numerous warehouse management systems (WMS) that offer yard modules as extensions to manage yard operations. For some companies, a WMS yard module may be sufficient to manage their yard operation, but for others, the benefits of a best-of-breed yard management system (YMS) are critical to the success of their logistics operations.
Perhaps the best way to explain the differences between a WMS yard module and a best-of-breed YMS is to use the following analogy based on the WMS market.
In the WMS market, there are inventory control applications that keep track of where operators have stored inventory in the past so that inventory can quickly be located when it is needed. These basic applications do not necessarily optimize the work being performed, rather they identify what has already taken place in the past as a means to controlling inventory. This is a very different scenario than a best-of-breed YMS that enables the optimization of personnel, equipment, and order picking/packing processes, to support world class operations at the highest levels of efficiency.
This same principal applies to the YMS software market. A yard module typically tells you where to find trailers in the yard based on where they have been placed in the past. This allows the yard driver to move trailers to dock doors without having to manually search for the trailer in the yard. This is the equivalent of an inventory control system in that the software tells you where the trailer was placed without any real intelligence aimed at optimizing resources or assets.
WMS yard modules typically manage the yard operation as an extension of the warehouse operation. WMS applications are principally designed to track and control the movement of inventory; optimize the storage utilization of the distribution center; manage labor resources; manage the execution of inbound and outbound orders; and optimize tasks assignment to workers responsible for picking and packing orders and moving inventory.
With a best-of-breed YMS, the application is oriented towards optimizing the use of labor resources and the movement of trailers within the yard. YMS applications are principally designed to track, control and optimize the movement of trucking assets; optimize the use of driver labor resources; manage the use of receiving and shipping dock doors and parking locations; manage communications between a centralized control center and all yard driver labor resources; forecast vehicle availability; and provide key performance indicators that managers can use to improve the quality, efficiency, and accuracy of their overall logistics operations.
Most importantly, best-of-breed YMS applications enable the establishment of user-defined rules to manage how the work is executed. For examples, there may be accessorial charges incurred on third-party trailers being held in the yard. The need to minimize accessorial charges may be a firm’s top priority by ensuring that the oldest trailers are prioritized for receiving first. This requires real-time visibility and status monitoring of trailer dwell time, accessorial charge tracking, email alerts, and carrier notification as soon as trailers are made available.
There are significant differences between the benefits of deploying a system-directed best-of-breed yard management system versus a more basic yard module extension of a WMS. It is important to understand the differences between these solutions in order to make the appropriate choice for your business.
Greg Braun is senior vice president at C3 Solutions Inc., a supply-chain execution company specializing in yard management and dock scheduling.