Covid-19 one year on: What has changed in yard management processes?

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Published on March 23, 2021 – Michael Augustin, Practice Director Yard Logistics at Westernacher

In March 2020 countries around the world introduced lockdowns and curfews, social distancing and contact limitations that affected societies, and with travel bans and closure of borders, commodity flows were heavily impacted by the upcoming global pandemic. While many measures are still defining our everyday lives both on professional and personal level, supply chains seem to have recovered, with the current situation being a catalyst for digitization of processes on the yard.
Social distancing and the reduction of contact are not only topics in the private space – reduced contact between drivers and external parties has become a focus area in the yard as well. The need and importance for contactless driver communication and truck handling in yards is mainly led by two factors: increased safety for internal staff due to the current situation on the one hand and the aim for process automation and optimization to increase process efficiency on the other hand.
One of the critical touchpoints today is the arrival and check-in process. While many organizations still rely on organizational processes and interaction between internal personnel and drivers, example cases of automated and digitized check-in processes have not only led to more security of staff but have also improved gate-throughput and efficiency by 30%. Additionally, workload of internal personnel has been reduced significantly with automated gate-in procedures to allow focus on other tasks to contribute to the value chain.
Further in the process, other interactions can be reduced to a minimum, e.g. during document handover or loading procedures. Using SMS communication avoids face-to-face communication with drivers and therefore contact. Handover of transport documents can be handled by self-service terminals being part of the check-out process. Loading procedures can be handled by drivers themselves using mobile manifests and digitized checklists to validate the correct load.
Looking at supply and transport chains, the past 12 months have also shown how important seamless and integrated processes are, especially in peak times when pressure is high. The yard plays a crucial part between transportation and warehousing, but still many yards are time-eaters due to inefficient handling and long waiting times which cannot be regained. Especially in consumer goods, retail and wholesale organizations have seen the need for digitized and connected yard processes to support the new normal.
Still unsure how your organization can benefit from digitized yard processes? In the coming weeks, we will analyze key processes in the yard and demonstrate how automation and digitization of these processes can create value for your organization. Furthermore, our innovations series will show you how the latest technology trends can be utilized in the yard to prepare for the yard of the future.

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