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12 Steps Guide to Mastering Yard Audits

yard audit

Process quality is of great importance for every part of the supply chain.

While companies generally have elaborate SOPs for warehouse processes, yard processes are usually not scrutinized with the same extent and depth.

Therefore, yard audits are critical to ensuring a healthy supply chain that delivers consistent performance every time.

Mastering the art of a yard audit can dramatically streamline operations and boost overall efficiency. Think of it as a health check or preventive maintenance for your yard operations

Let us understand the yard audit in more detail. Here's your step-by-step guide to mastering yard audits.

1-Select an Auditor and Know Your Yard

Before starting the audit, familiarize the auditor with the yard's operations, layout, and equipment.

Ensure a yard map, an understanding of traffic flow, and a list of all equipment and assets are available in digital and hard copy. The better the auditor understands the yard, the more effective your audit will be.

Selecting the auditor should be a careful step.

The auditor should thoroughly know and review the warehouse and yard processes, standard SOPs, and sample collection for the evidence.

2-Set Clear Objectives

What do you hope to achieve with the audit?

While checking the process adherence against the SOP, the audit’s objective should also be to identify bottlenecks and opportunities for reducing wait times, improving safety, or ensuring compliance with regulations.

But all these should be pre-decided and clearly documented. Clear goals will guide the auditor and ensure the results are actionable.

3-Gather Essential Data

Start by collecting data from your Yard Management System (YMS). Look at entry and exit logs, equipment maintenance records, and incident reports.

These documents provide information that can be used to check adherence to the process, revealing patterns, gaps, misses, and potential issues.

4-Observe in Real-Time

Audit should also be planned in a way that the auditor spends some time in the yard during peak and off-peak hours.

Observe vehicle movement, equipment usage, and staff actions against the pre-decided and documented processes.

The difference between the peak and off-peak period audits can also reveal valuable insights.

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5-Conduct Interviews

Auditors should collect qualitative inputs during the audits. Speak to people inside the yard, from yard jockeys to managers.

They can provide on-the-ground insights that you won't find in reports. Ask them about their challenges, suggestions for improvement, and any safety concerns.

6-Assess Safety and Compliance

This is non-negotiable. Auditors should ensure that all safety protocols are followed and that the yard complies with regulatory standards.

Check signage, equipment functionality, and emergency response preparedness during the audit.

7-Review Infrastructure and Equipment

Check the condition of roads, loading docks, and storage areas. Ensure all equipment, from trucks to forklifts, are in good working condition.

Any breakdowns or malfunctions can cause significant disruptions to the supply chain.

8-Analyze Data and Findings

Once auditors have gathered all the information, it's time to dive deep. Look for patterns, recurrent issues, or areas that consistently perform well.

Use this analysis to highlight both strengths and areas of improvement.

9-Develop an Action Plan

Based on your findings, draft a clear action plan. Prioritize tasks based on their impact on operations and safety.

If wait times at the entrance are causing significant delays, that's a high-priority item. But if a sign is slightly faded but still readable, it might be lower on the list.

10-Implement Changes and Monitor

Start implementing the changes from your action plan. But remember, the audit doesn't end once changes are made.

Continuously monitor the yard to ensure the implemented changes are effective and adjust as necessary.

11-Feedback Loop

After implementing changes, gather feedback from staff.

-Are the new processes helping?

-Is there anything that needs further tweaking?

-This feedback is invaluable for making continuous improvements.

12-Repeat Regularly

The logistics world is constantly changing, and so is your yard.

Regular audits ensure you avoid any potential issues and keep operations running smoothly.

Quicker audits should be done quarterly, with more detailed ones at least once a year. 

Wrapping Up

Yard audits might seem intimidating, but they can be incredibly beneficial with a systematic approach.

It's all about knowing what to look for and how to interpret the data gathered. And remember, it's a continuous process. Regular audits ensure your yard remains efficient, safe, and compliant.

At C3 Solutions, we understand the importance of effective yard management. Dive into the intricacies of yard operations with C3 and elevate your yard management game!