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Challenges with Dock Appointment Scheduling for Seamless Yard Operations

Late deliveries are one of the most common issues in the logistics sector. They result in financial impacts, lost opportunities, and customer discontent. Digging further, it becomes clear that they are frequently caused by inefficient loading processes rather than traffic or improper routing.

The first thing that jumps to mind is improving process efficiency, which companies try by focusing on optimizing logistics and warehousing operations. While these are two incredibly important areas to improve for overall operations, t subtle but crucial link unites these two essential functions. A link that is often neglected and undervalued throughout the whole of the supply chain: efficient yard management

What Does Yard Management Involve?

Yard management combines operations that ensure a smooth movement of goods inside the yard or docking area. Yard Management includes processes like:

  • Loading and unloading activities at ports or DCs
  • Coordinating truck movement
  • Optimized workforce management
  • Other asset tracking and moving

Challenges with Dock Appointment Scheduling

Every company is different and, as such, will have different needs and processes, but there are several common dock inefficiencies that many logistics organizations face. The majority of them stem from manual processes.

1. Manual Check-ins and Check-outs

Manual check-in and check-out operations often create a severe bottleneck. Trucks take too long to enter or exit for a busy yard, and a queue forms, spilling onto nearby streets. Dock security and managers race back and forth, double-checking vehicle details and calling to alert the dock staff. Meanwhile, drivers sit in idle vehicles, meaning they face penalties for delays and squander time and fuel.

In a nutshell, efficient freight tracking is lost in the chaos. Detentions pile up, shipments get delayed, and carriers get upset. Manual processes only compound the issue, adding the amount of processing time and taking away from other value-added tasks within the organization. 

2. Yard Checks and Assets Tracking

Asset management may be fine for smaller businesses where you can view the entire area, but the situation is different and challenging to manage in a larger yard. Identifying which trucks are in the yard and where to locate the goods you want can be a mammoth task.

Tracking equipment: Lack of clarity on the available equipment can be problematic. Like having a truck docked, the unavailability of a forklift can delay the unloading. It was cited by 47 percent of respondents in the retail industry as their top worry.

Inventory management: Another primary source of delays is poorly maintained inventory. The failure of spotters to locate required assets in the yard causes schedule problems and overtime. And in the case of perishable goods, it might result in extra losses.

3. Yard Operations Management

Loading and unloading operations are one of the most critical aspects of the yard's functions. It should be as efficient and effective as possible, but the lack of focus in most businesses can be the most vulnerable. Because it is the most susceptible to interruptions, efforts must be taken to design the ideal timetable and stick to it.

Manual scheduling is always a problem. There are so many variables to consider for an efficient plan, like:

  • Trailer type
  • Type of cargo (cold chain, oversized)
  • Type of palletization
  • Type of loading and unloading equipment needed
  • Time required for loading and unloading
  • The capacity of the dock and warehouse
  • Workforce requirement and planning

Unfortunately, we all know how easy transportation can go wrong. Even a tiny hiccup or a single missed timeline might derail a perfect plan. It's necessary to respond quickly to disturbances and restore order when things get out of hand. And that is only possible with real-time data and insight into dock activity.

4. An Effective Workforce Management

Ineffective workforce planning results in either a staff deficit or overstaffing. While understaffing leads to delays in fulfillment and costly overtime, overstaffing results in idling and higher labour expenses. Using manual scheduling to manage the workforce and avoid either extreme accurately is practically impossible given the industry's volatile nature.

A yard management system (YMS) is a software solution that automates these activities. A YMS can aid in scheduling, monitoring equipment, commodities, and providing real-time data for better decision-making. Instead of manually managing daily yard activities, businesses should use a YMS instead.

YMSs can be integrated with other software to achieve company-wide visibility and control. These can be enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, a transportation management system (TMS), or a warehouse management system (WMS).

Businesses must choose an intelligent platform to address rising global supply chain needs. It should help them transition from reactive to proactive supply chain management. When looking for the right yard management system, it needs to be sophisticated enough to manage all aspects of the shipping yard. A holistic approach is the only way to truly improve yard efficiency. C3 Solutions provides the most advanced yard management with end-to-end insights.

C3 Solutions can help you take every element of your yard management to the next level. C3 Solutions is based in Montreal, Quebec. It was founded in 2000 and has customers in the United States, Canada, and Europe. Schedule a free online demonstration to learn more about C3's products.