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The evolution of yard management

Historically trailer yards have relied on outdated manual machinery

Yard management needs a technology upgrade. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

By Bart De Muynck

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.

In the changing landscape of logistics and supply chain management, the often-overlooked trailer yard operations need a technological transformation that promises to revolutionize efficiency. Although the trailer yard has received more attention from shippers and 3PLs in the past few years, it often is still a black hole in the supply chain with a lack of efficiency and very little automation.

Trailer yards, often referred to simply as “yards” in the logistics industry, have long been the unsung and often “forgotten” heroes of the supply chain. These critical hubs play a central role in the loading and unloading of goods, serving as the bridge between transportation and facilities. However, historically, many trailer yards have operated in a manual and inefficient manner, facing a multitude of challenges.

One of the primary issues has been the lack of real-time visibility and control. Manual yard checks and paper-based tracking systems have made it challenging to monitor the status and location of trailers and containers accurately. This results in inefficiencies, as operators struggle to allocate resources effectively, leading to congestion and long wait times for truck drivers.

The chaotic nature of this traditional yard management can result in human errors, increased labor costs and unnecessary delays. Security concerns, such as theft and unauthorized access, have also been common challenges in these yards.

In the last decade, we saw more companies investing in yard management solutions to get some visibility in the yard and to access better data points, which in turned helped to connect to the warehouse management systems, transportation management systems and even fleet management systems. Although this brought some benefits to the yard, most steps in the process remained disconnected and often manual.

However, the winds of change continue blowing through the world of trailer yards. The introduction of vision and AI technology is revolutionizing the way these operations are conducted. These new technologies are introducing a new level of disruption in the yard.

The future of yard vision and the advent of yard automation are poised to bring about significant improvements in how companies manage their transportation hubs, leading to streamlined operations, reduced costs and enhanced visibility.

Yard vision and automation represent the future of efficient yard management. With cameras, Internet of Things, AI and automation, companies can unlock unprecedented visibility into their yard operations, optimize resource allocation, enhance security and reduce operational costs.

These innovations, as provided by vendors like Eaigle, promise to bring real-time visibility, optimize resource allocation, reduce congestion, enhance security and improve overall efficiency. As a result, trailer yards are transitioning from historically manual and inefficient spaces to technologically advanced hubs that are pivotal to the modern supply chain. AI-driven software promises to improve the visibility in the yard and automate the manual process.

With yard vision and automation, the yard will no longer be the overlooked part of the supply chain, but a crucial component where technology is making a significant difference. As these advancements continue to evolve, they will play an increasingly pivotal role in the broader landscape of logistics and supply chain management.

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About the author

Bart De Muynck is an industry thought leader with over 30 years of supply chain and logistics experience. He has worked for major international companies, including EY, GE Capital, Penske Logistics and PepsiCo, as well as several tech companies. He also spent eight years as a vice president of research at Gartner and, most recently, served as chief industry officer at project44. He is a member of the Forbes Technology Council and CSCMP’s Executive Inner Circle.

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Note: FreightWaves occasionally publishes commentary from industry sources with expertise, information and opinion on current transportation topics. The opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of FreightWaves. Submissions to FreightWaves are subject to editing.