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NYK Logistics

WhereNet Allows Double Transaction In Less Than Two Hours

When you're responsible for moving freight for Target (TGT: NYSE), you better be "on target" with your logistic operations to keep up with one of the highest-volume, demanding distribution channels in the world. "With WhereNet, we can execute this type of double transaction in less than two hours if need be."

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The Challenge

When you're responsible for moving freight for Target (TGT: NYSE), you better be "on target" with your operations to keep up with one of the highest-volume, demanding distribution channels in the world. The Minneapolis-based retailer, which generates annual revenue greater than $10 billion through its Target, Mervyn's and Marshall Field's stores, uses NYK Logistics as one of its leading logistics service providers.

The main hub of NYK Logistics' Target activity takes place at the NYK Logistics Long Beach, California facility – a mammoth 70-acre yard and transload facility featuring 1,200 parking slots and 250 dock doors. NYK is responsible for managing more than 50,000 inbound ocean freight containers from the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and 30,000 outbound trailers every year, coordinating on-time shipments to 22 different Target distribution centers across the United States. As further proof of the dynamic nature and complexity of this yard, NYK Logistics operates 24/ 7 and processes more than 1,000 gate transactions daily during peak season, checking in and out containers and trailers from 11 different steamship lines and 12-15 domestic carriers.

The Solution

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 centers, 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 center" 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 utilization, 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.

Results

WhereSoft Yard Saves Time and Money
WhereSoft Yard 4.0 enables NYK Logistics to operate the most efficient deconsolidation/transload/crossdock business in the world, leveraging such features as:

  • WhereNet Yard Rule Manager – This configurable rules engine controls the movement of trailers and containers to dock doors, assigns parking spots within the yard, and verifies that trailers and containers being checked out are allowed to leave the yard. For example, when the WhereNet location system detects that a door is available, the rules engine automatically scans the yard for trailers that are eligible for that door and generates a trailer move request for the hostler drivers. The rules can be configured to select units based on a combination of criteria including shipment destination, unit status, unit type, unit age, commodity, carrier, hot load and more. NYK uses the rules to ensure that the lowest cost carriers are selected first for particular routes and to minimize detention by processing older containers first. The only human intervention in this process takes place when the hostler driver receives the request via his wireless tablet PC device, "maps" the location of the requested trailer via his touch screen, and pulls the trailer to the designated door.
  • Fast Gate Process – Gate check-ins and checkouts are performed using mobile handheld devices and software designed by WhereNet. During the check-in process, a user enters information about the unit and driver, and then attaches a WhereTag to the container or trailer that is about to enter the facility. The system automatically attempts to find a matching Automatic Shipping Notice (ASN) and prints a ticket for the driver with instructions on where to park the unit and which unit (if any) to pick up. The ticket serves as a gate pass for the driver. Driver information is obtained by swiping the driver's license on a magnetic card reader integrated with the mobile printer. This data is transmitted via the wireless LAN and captured in the WhereNet database so that NYK Logistics has accurate, automated records of everyone who enters its facility. Based on driver feedback, WhereNet's fast gate process has resulted in a 50% reduction in time spent on site to complete a double transaction.

Share Data with Your Logistics Partners
Not only does NYK Logistics benefit from the WhereNet solution, but so do all of its partners across the logistics network. Whether it's Target's procurement and shipping personnel, drayage company dispatchers and drivers, domestic carriers, or even U.S. Customs officials, all of NYK Logistics partners benefit from real-time, actionable information about yard resources.

NYK Logistics also uses the WhereNet yard management solution to auto-email reports several times a day to drayage companies and domestic carriers informing them about empty containers or loaded trailers available for pick up. This real-time information enables drivers to perform round-trips a majority of the time, saving significant time and money. The WhereNet system also triggers alerts based on business rules notifying, for example, NYK equipment controllers if a container sits idle too long or if a loaded trailer is not picked up on time.

This new operational business intelligence allows NYK and its partners to better synchronize resources and activities within this "glass pipeline" by sharing and acting on critical data that is essential for moving products through the supply chain.

"With WhereNet, we essentially know the DNA of every container – what's in it, when it arrived at the port, its location on our site, and where the contents ultimately need to be shipped," says Pople.

"But what's even more exciting is to consider the awesome potential of WhereNet's technology as more 'nodes' are added to the network. When ocean terminals, truck yards, and other distribution centers add local area networks of their own, the shared data will become almost exponentially more powerful. Where we can take this is really almost endless."

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