April 8, 2019 – Michael Augustin, Consultant SAP Yard Logistics (SAP YL)
Business Trends Yard: Replacement of manual and paper-based processes
Printed checklists, various excel files, manual inputs on all corners: many yard processes still rely on manual and complex processes, limiting the full potential of the site and its impact on the overall value chain. But, with the use of latest technology, most of the current problems can be solved in order to increase process efficiency.
Production, distribution or terminals: a yard is not only a structural area surrounding a warehouse but an essential part of the supply chain being the bridge between warehousing/storage and transportation. While margins in transportation decrease and concepts such as just-in-sequence deliveries in supply logistics deliveries grow in importance, process efficiency is key throughout the entire supply chain. During the past decade, efforts have been made, especially in the areas of warehouse logistics and transportation to increase operational excellence and visibility. With that being accomplished, focus turns towards yard processes and time slot management, as well as optimization to further harmonize and orchestrate supply chain execution processes.
To achieve this, existing yard processes must be redefined and adjusted to unleash automatization potential and harmonize IT landscapes. Still, many customers rely on yard processes, which require much manual input, and are heavily paper-based. Another challenge is that some companies do have software in place that is tailored to the individual site processes and does not offer any option to standardize procedures along the global supply chain. With that, much of the software is outdated and self-developed, which leads to high TCOs. Customers who do not have software-supported yard processes operate with Excel spreadsheets and print outs, which does not allow any optimization or automatization of processes. Checklists required for documentation are printed, manually filled-out and filed. Information between different parties involved in the yard process are sent manually via email, fax or exchanged via phone, bearing the risk that information is not passed correctly, with process steps being affected.
To overcome these problems and weaknesses, central software such as SAP Yard Logistics that harmonizes and orchestrates processes in and around the yard is the solution. These processes do not only include the steps to be executed on the yard, but also include processes such as slot booking for advanced and optimized planning, as well as real-time analytics. Especially in trucking, time slot management rises in importance and is being used increasingly in the industry. Looking at time slot management, there is a variety of software on the market, containing slot management functionality, together with web portals for external partners.
However, in the aim to centralize processes in one system, most of these solutions lack the functionality for the execution of yard processes, which leads to many challenges, such as having another system in place and the need for integration. SAP Yard Logistics offers dock appointment and capacity management functionality in combination with the execution process and can be integrated to warehouse and transportation processes without the need for any additional interface to an external system. With the Westernacher Slot Booking Add-On for SAP Yard Logistics, a seamless and highly integrated planning process can be established within a harmonized yard management system. By giving access to carriers, planning process are automated and simplified without losing any control as a slot can only be booked if capacity is available.
Furthermore, an essential factor in the overall efficiency of the yard operation is the gate throughput. While physical circumstances, such as number of entry gates and lanes and maximum capacity on the yard may limit the number of vehicles entering a yard, often inefficient check-in processes prevent companies increasing turnover. While some customers do operate check-in terminals in their legacy environment, these components often a single software module which does not cover the entire yard process and requires additional technical integration. To automate and improve check-in processes, sufficient planning and good data quality, as well as intelligent supply control is key. This means combining the planning component with the execution part, ideally in one system to ensure consistency and avoid data redundancy. Offering the required functionality, SAP Yard Logistics helps customers to increase gate throughput by simplifying registration processes and minimizing effort.
Instead of capturing all data, such as vehicles, driver name and carrier information during the check-in, this information is already available through the upfront planning so manual input is minimized with the use of intuitive and user-friendly FIORI applications. By integrating to hardware on the yard, such as terminals, barrier and traffic lights, registration processes can be automated to an extend that no user input is required. With OCR recognition, license plates can be scanned to automatically open barriers and give access to trucks which have been pre-registered to reduce check-in time at the yard. For check-in processes which require additional driver input, truck drivers can check-in themselves in their native language through the Westernacher Self-Check-In Application, avoiding any language barriers at the check-in and guiding truck drivers automatically through the process.
Besides gate throughput and the automatization of check-in processes, other yard activities, such as trailer checks, manual measurement controls and internal, as well as external, communication can be automated and digitalized with SAP Yard Logistics. Instead of printed checklists, which are later filed and stored, SAP Yard Logistics offers digitalized checklists which do not require any printed paper. Any vehicle arriving at the yard can be checked with a digital checklist provided in the Westernacher Vehicle Checker app. This works in a similar way with rental car return processes. The checker can highlight damages to the incoming vehicle and take pictures which are uploaded to SAP Yard Logistics to ensure that arriving vehicles comply with internal requirements.
Furthermore, exception processes can be defined, e.g. when a truck is rejected. Therefore, increasing compliance and process efficiency. With SAP Yard Logistics managing all yard processes, several parties throughout the yard process can be informed without the need for external communication, leading to clearly defined duties and responsibilities and greater transparency and data quality within the information flow.
With the standard integration to SAP EWM, SAP TM and SAP ERP / S/4, Yard Logistics is the system to unlock the full potential of your yard and start your journey towards automatization and digitalization.
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