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'Switching' the Mentality - Getting Switchers on Board with Yard Management

Over the years, I've been on dozens of yard management deployments in varying types of operations around the world. One factor that has often caused some trouble is the 'buy in' from the switcher drivers in the yard.

"We know how to run our yard"

I've heard this quote from switcher drivers during go-lives way more than I care to remember


- and up to a certain extent, it's true. Switchers, shunters, jockeys, whatever you call them, are your resources which are in the best position to manage your yard. They take pride in managing the trailers and keeping the yard organized and the dock doors filled with the appropriate trailers.

So how exactly can a business get their switchers to hop onto the yard management system (YMS) band wagon and actually become an asset in their system deployment rather than a hindrance? I've come to realize that there are three factors that can influence how your switchers will contribute (or not) to the implementation of a YMS.

1. Show Switchers How YMS Makes Their Jobs Easier

Switchers are often very concerned with the arrival of a yard management system. They feel their jobs are at risk or that Big Brother Boss wants to pry into their work. This often couldn't be further from reality. Many businesses opt for implementing a YMS system because their operations has grown to a point where managing the yard using classic methods simply doesn't cut it anymore. Paper-pencil, magnet boards, spreadsheets, all these methods prove themselves to be insufficient. The point a business needs to make with its switchers is that they are implementing the system to make them and the warehouse more efficient by automating some or all of the yard business processes. Switchers can then concentrate on the core of their jobs and perform to their maximum potential and do what they do best - drive trucks.

2. Build and Design The Solution with The Switchers

Who's going to be impacted most by the implementation of a YMS in your operation? Transport personnel, receiving/shipping personnel and switchers. We often see transport, receiving and shipping personnel involved at all levels of the project, from the initial scoping to the solution design, but we very seldom see switchers in these meetings. Well, they are probably the people whose jobs are impacted the most in this project and should absolutely be included when defining the scope and future processes. A user that 'owns' the system is definitely more likely to be motivated and excited about the new implementation. This motivation will trickle down on other members of the team and make for a much smoother transition. Not only that, switchers know best how their yard is maintained. I've sat in meetings trying to define 'what goes where' in the yard and no one in the operations can tell me precisely. Switchers have a better chance of getting things right the first time.

3. Listen to Shunter Feedback When Rolling Out

Regardless of how well you plan and setup your system, there will be some tweaking needed when rolling out. Trailers will be sent to the wrong areas of the yard and the first people to realise this will be the switchers/shunters. Listen to them. They have relevant input and they provide it in real-time as the issue is occurring. It’s then very easy to adjust the configuration of a system right on the spot. Next time this situation occurs, shunters will notice that the feedback they provided was implemented in the system and they'll feel like they are gaining control over their yard, not losing it to a new system.

In the end, the successful deployment of any major piece of software in the supply chain requires the involvement of many different departments. Like in a real chain, if one of these links is weak or breaks, you run the risk of losing control over what you're attempting to achieve. It's important to have switchers involved as much as possible in the implementation of yard management software and if you do, you're already that much closer to a successful deployment.

Get Started with The Right Product

Now that you know a few things about how to implement a yard management project, the next step is to select the right software product. To find out why top companies have selected C3 Yard, register for a free WebEx demonstration.

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