Wheresoft Yard Reduces Cost By Automating Yard Management
Historically, NYK Logistics relied on a "home grown" yard management system, coupled with extensive manual labor to try and manage its ever-changing yard. Yard personnel, armed with clipboards, pads of paper and walkie-talkies – and occasionally borrowing a bicycle or golf cart to reach the outskirts of the spacious facility – would constantly roam the yard, manually entering data and scanning barcodes on containers to try to keep up with the current inventory of the yard. Further exacerbating the problem was the fact that drivers didn't always drop off their containers or trailers in their assigned parking spaces, so yard personnel often resorted to lengthy searches to find equipment they were trying to manage.
"No matter how many people we threw at the problem – we even used an old pick-up truck to expedite the data collection process – we were always a day late and a dollar short as the saying goes," says Rick Pople, General Manager of NYK's Long Beach operations. "And in our case, those days and dollars quickly escalate into thousands of dollars when you consider higher inventory, more labor, and lengthy yard turns."
WhereNet Solutions Shares Accurate Real-time Data with Emerging Technologies
With Target's volume steadily increasing and tapping out its facility expansion (located just seven miles from the Port of Los Angeles/ Long Beach, the NYK yard and its surrounding areas are considered prime real estate), NYK Logistics decided in late 2002 to consider emerging technology solutions to manage its yard. "We had no other choice – we exhausted all other options and knew we had to embrace technology," Pople recalls. "In hindsight, we wished that we had made the move sooner."
Industry analysts concur. "In order to achieve significant productivity gains in high-velocity, high-volume distribution centres, intermodal facilities and marine terminals, shippers and third-party logistics providers must embrace emerging technologies that automate manual-intensive processes and provide accurate real-time data capture," says Robert Goodwin, Vice President for Gartner.
NYK Logistics did its homework and put together a long "wish list" of what this new, state-of-the-art, yard management solution would offer and deliver – and at the top of the list was real-time location information – critical for a high-velocity yard like NYK. Goals for the system included:
- Increasing revenue through new business as a result of better yard Throughput
- Improving Level of Service (LOS) performance through timely processing of containers
- Reducing costs as a result of better gate productivity, improved hostler (tractor) efficiency, and the elimination of manual yard checks.
WhereNet RTLS Tracks Exact Locations of Assets
To meet these challenges, NYK Logistics conducted a comprehensive search, analyzing dozens of vendors, and ultimately selected WhereNet's wireless Real Time Locating System (RTLS) and WhereSoft Yard 4.0 yard management software to better manage its operations and process more shipments with fewer resources. Deployed in less than 75 days, the WhereNet wireless system provides NYK with 100 percent accurate location information for every container, trailer, and hostler tractor within NYK's yard. Operating as the "command and control centre" of the NYK Logistics yard, the WhereNet system is enabling NYK to automate more than 90 percent of its yard operations, which has increased dock door utilisation, reduced yard congestion, and increased yard throughput.
"Traditional RFID technology just doesn't cut it for our operations. It's not good enough to know that a trailer or container has entered our yard – we must know its exact whereabouts and status at all times. For example, during our peak pre-holiday season, it's not uncommon that we are required to expedite a container that just arrived at the port, deconsolidate it, and transload its contents onto several different outbound trailers headed for different parts of the country. With WhereNet, we can execute this type of double transaction in less than two hours if need be. We could have never dreamed of doing that with the old system."
In addition to taking advantage of the latest features of the WhereNet yard management system, NYK Logistics is also benefiting from the complete functionality of the WhereNet wireless infrastructure that combines both location and mobile communication capabilities in a single integrated system. With an array of 35 WhereNet wireless locating access points mounted throughout the yard, NYK Logistics has complete wireless coverage of its entire facility that includes more than 1,200 parking slots and 250 dock doors.
Upon arrival at the gate, every container or trailer gets "tagged" with a small, active radio transmitter called a WhereTag. From this point forward, NYK Logistics personnel have constant connectivity to their yard assets wherever they move about the facility. What's more, NYK Logistics leverages this same industry standards-based wireless local area network (LAN) for mobile communications, allowing yard workers to use handheld devices and ruggedized Tablet PC devices mounted in the hostler tractors to transmit data via the WhereNet infrastructure.