Optimizing outdoor logistics

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More and more focus is being put on the ability to effectively manage logistic flows in the large open spaces outside the warehouse, often called yard management.

Companies now see yard management as the next bottleneck to remove. Huge savings in cost and time can be made using standard WMS processes connected to newer, effective WLAN systems.

Yard Management is the ability to track data associated with trailers and containers in larger areas outside the warehouse or DC. There are two main dilemmas to solve for effective logistics control of these areas. Firstly, as the flow of transport increases, how can people get better control of vehicles in and out of the gate? The second dilemma is effectively managing the goods that are contained inside large open spaces.

It is essential to get information in real time such as who brought the goods in, who owns them, where they are, whats on each trailer, container and pallet, how long its been there and where its supposed to go next - and when.

In other words, effective yard management can significantly reduce the costs of what could well be the most expensive kilometer in transport and logistics.

WLAN works

One of the major factors for better control in yard management is greatly improved WLAN technology. WLAN enables very large spaces to be covered and allows all goods in these areas to communicate with WMS systems. In other words, achieve the same control outside the warehouse as you have inside it. This is great news for the logistics industry. Using advanced WLAN planning methods and connecting these to standard RFID systems it is extremely easy to control and verify what goods are where, and which incoming goods should be moved to which port. Similarly, the system effectively expedites the transport of outgoing goods to the yard and their efficient dispatch.

What makes the system secure is greater reliability of WLAN signal transfer and better planning of WLAN areas. Swedish Consafe Logistics, who sell two of the industrys well known WMS systems, Astro and SattStore now offer proven solutions for wide areas together with their sister company, WLAN experts Smarteq.

Total visibility and maximum space utilization

An effective yard management solution provides a centralized system of tracking goods and trailers from the moment they arrive in the yard until the moment they leave. This ensures all authorized personnel have complete, real-time visibility of trailer locations and contents at all times. This enables cross-docking and brings the advantage of increased fill rates and on-time shipments.
WLAN solutions also allow greater space utilization so trailers can be unloaded at a space closest to the dock door, reducing the distance and time involved with trailer retrieval.
The use of real-time location also prepares people much better for when goods arrive, speeding up the unloading process and giving greater cost savings.

IKEA a pioneer

One of our major customers, IKEA is now looking at implementing efficient yard management in the majority of its DCs. Like many successful exporting companies, IKEA is enjoying the fruits of greatly increased trade with developing countries such as China and the Far East. This has led to a greater need for container and goods management as the amount of exported goods has skyrocketed lately.

IKEA wants to control all inbound goods, knowing in advance what trailers containing what goods will be arriving at what timeslots. Connected to Consafe Logistics WMS systems they can allocate which bay the trailer should be stowed at, and instantly display information about current location, whether it should be placed in a parking area or a specific bay, loading unit contents (whats in the trailer or container) consignment, driver, unloading instructions and even which external tractor should move the loading unit. This optimizes what should be taken where and when, and saves huge amounts of resources, time and ultimately, money.

The WMS system also manages loading and despatch across large external areas without a problem. Loading Unit assignments are displayed on screen. Loading Units (trailers, containers) are then loaded and moved to allocated parking areas by a specified tractor and driver, then despatched at the right time from the right place by the right wagon and driver.

A benefit for many other industries

IKEAs challenge for managing logistics in ever greater open spaces is typical of the dilemmas many similar companies face today. As the volume of goods increases and transport must move ever more frequently, it is vital that transport around the DC flows as quickly and accurately as the goods within or even more quickly and accurately.

A well-functioning WMS connected to a modern WLAN and web-based EDI ensures that this flow is accomplished as speedily and as accurately as possible.
Optimized trailer movements, minimized unnecessary travel around the yard, and total control of asset management and reporting are instant money savers.

Greater use of these systems would bring huge benefits to all types of companies, not only industries who have been first movers in logistics systems such as the FMCG. Large docks and harbours, car exporters, sawmills and timber yards would all profit from great efficiencies through effective yard management using WLAN systems that would ultimately greatly improve their bottom line.

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