Shipping yards are one of the most important parts of the global supply chain. These yards may serve cargo ships, freight trains, trucks, or a combination of transportation methods. This hub is where new goods arrive from manufacturers before getting sent on to retailers all over the world.
Yard management software a scheduling and inventory management solution suite for the shipping industry. This software helps yards automate and optimize the flow of inbound and outbound assets. And you can monitor and audit shipping loads to meet compliance regulations.
Yard management systems (YMS) have several similarities to transportation management software (TMS) as it provides logistics for vessels, trucks, and other modes of distribution. However, this software also lets you stay in complete control of incoming and outgoing inventory. Whether you operate a full port of entry or a single shipping yard, you can benefit from yard management software.
There are many benefits to using yard management software, including:
Working in a shipping yard means dealing with a lot of different levels along the supply chain. You have to maintain clear communication with individual ship captains, local suppliers, delivery drivers, and your own team of dock workers. If you don’t keep everyone on the same page, you could end up with late or missing shipments.
Scheduling tools make it easier to create a timeline for arriving and departing cargo. If there is a sudden delay, you can generate an updated timeline and find ways to make up for lost time. For example, if stormy weather causes ships to arrive late, you can quickly edit the schedule to accommodate incoming vessels. Or if a truck has a flat tire, you can account for that too.
Many ports are surrounded by warehouses to store cargo before it is distributed to its final destination. You need to make sure any onsite warehouses are not operating overcapacity. Otherwise, your entire port operation could be in violation of safety protocol. Warehouse management systems (WMS) help you balance incoming inventory against what is being distributed.
A full warehouse is more than just a safety concern - it’s a lost opportunity to accept more inventory. If you operate wharf warehouses, you can use inventory optimization solutions to increase warehouse capacity and take on more shipments.
Shipping is incredibly expensive due to rising fuel costs for both cargo carriers and trucks. Transportation management lets you control all inbound and outbound freight logistics at your yard. Plan optimized routes for truckers in order to cut down on mileage and save on fuel. And use in-depth analysis to find cost-effective ways to consolidate shipping loads.
Even small wharves can bring in thousands of assets a day. If you’re relying on handmade spreadsheets to keep shipments in order, you’re putting your entire yard at risk for errors. You don’t want to find out your warehouse is at full capacity after accepting a new shipment. An automated system can do all the work for you to reduce mistakes.
Another benefit of automated flow is scalability. Track individual trailers or entire intermodal containers from one dashboard. Graphical yard view tools let you see your entire yard with an eagle-eye view. Know where trucks are or which berths are available in real-time.
As an industry based around importing and exporting goods, cargo ports have to follow U.S. Custom and Border Protection regulations. You’ll need to ensure your cargo manifests and inventory levels are accurate in case of a CBP inspection.
In addition to CBP requirements, the shipping industry has to deal with union rules, OSHA regulations, and occasionally maritime law. Document management modules organize and protect all your important records digitally.
Bad weather can mean a bad day on the wharf. Severe storms can prevent inbound vessels from arriving and delay moored ships from leaving. Even strong winds on an otherwise fair-weather day can put a stop to crane operations necessary for loading and unloading cargo. These weather delays can add up to thousands of dollars in lost fuel costs and missed deadlines. Weather tracking modules within your yard management software can provide real-time updates on possible weather problems.
Yard management software pricing depends on whether the solution is based on users, vehicles, or facilities. Pricing for users begins at $23 per month. Per vehicle costs begin at $20 per month. And there are solutions starting at $199 per month for multiple facilities. This does not include fees for implementation and training.
Perpetual use licenses for one-time software downloads begins at $100 per user. Other software suites cost $20,000 for a one-time download for as many users as you want.
Yards face a lot of difficult issues, especially if they work with more than one mode of distribution:
It’s an unavoidable rule of the road: vehicles break down. Tires go flat, engines fail, and accidents happen. Fleet management software can help you stay ahead of maintenance to prevent possible breakdowns in the future.
Ships may need to stay moored for a few days in order to refuel and take on new cargo. Unfortunately, that means you’re no longer able to accept inbound ships until a berth becomes available.
For example, imagine a large dry bulk carrier and a slightly smaller reefer ship are scheduled to arrive at the same time. Yet you only have one general berth available because moored vessels. Can you turn away ships with perishable goods? With a scheduling application you won’t have to. Add in real-time data to estimate which outbound ship is due to leave next so you can get another berth ready.
The shipping industry is dependent on favorable weather conditions. A big storm could delay vessels for days, leading to multiple cargo ships arriving all at once. Soaring temperatures could cause reefer ships to expedite their shipping schedule. A mobile weather app can keep you informed of daily and long-term weather forecasts so you can prepare for any changes in shipping patterns.
Another major headache for port operations is delays from US Customs inspections. CBP has hundreds of laws meant to protect national and international legal trade. One way they do this is through cargo examinations. While this is meant to ensure cargo manifests are accurate, they can also cause delays if the CBP agent takes a long time to finish their inspection.
Yard management software lets you keep records on cargo manifests. You can use your documentation to help speed up examinations.