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Yard Management – an inside look at how NSSL delivers a cost effective solution to a long neglected link in their Supply Chains

Yard Management (YM) is the process that companies use to direct the movement of trucks and trailers in the yard of a manufacturing facility, warehouse, or distribution centre.  This is a necessity for retailers or manufacturers with in excess of 150,000 square feet of dock space and 1 to 20 shunt trucks.   YM becomes essential to ensure the timely movement of trailers in and out of dock doors and to guarantee the efficient utilization of their dock and yard space.

YM typically falls in a grey area between Transportation Management and Warehouse Management.  Many companies ask one of their for hire carriers to supply this service.  In most cases, this is not a core offering but the carrier assumes responsibility for YM to satisfy the needs of the customer and prevent a competitor from getting a “foot in the door.”  Despite the fact that there are thousands of motor carriers (and hundreds of railways) providing transportation services throughout North America, there are very few carriers that have a focus on, and specialization, in YM. As a result, shippers often have to fend for themselves. 

Current Yard Management Systems create an array of Problems

Most YM systems are based on error-prone manual input of collected data or on legacy yard management systems. The shunt fleet is often comprised of retired day cab equipment that tends to break down.  Dispatch is not skilled in proactive fleet management and they frequently rely on time consuming, static (not real time) yard management software that requires manual input of collected data.

This results in a variety of costly issues.  

  • Overtime hours may be incurred waiting for trailers to be unloaded.  
  • Plant downtime may take place as old shunting equipment that is carrying time-critical freight breaks down.
  • Unexpected and expensive accessorial charges may be assessed from carriers that are delayed entry into the plant/warehouse or stalled due to yard congestion. 
  • Retailers may face a loss of sales if goods cannot be delivered to their stores on time
  • Product damage may result from dock congestion.

In an attempt to minimize these issues, some large retailers and manufacturers opt to buy a software solution and manage the YM process on their own.  Shippers can pay between $250-$500k one-time costs to implement a YM solution.  Then there are the annual enterprise and support costs that are on-going.  These are estimated at $25k – $100k depending on the number of end users.  The purchaser is still faced with employing the human capital to manage the system and direct an area of transportation in which they have limited skills and expertise. 

NSSL’s Integrated Yard Management Solution

National Shunt Service Limited (NSSL) provides both stand-alone YM and integrated solutions.   In the case of the latter, NSSL provides the software, skilled human resources and equipment to provide Best in Class Yard Management Services.  NSSL is unique in North America in that Yard Management is their core competence; it is their area of specialization.  NSSL’s proprietary application product, Shuntware, is a functionally rich software solution that is coupled with a tablet computer, to allow each shunt driver to perform data entry into the NSSL web portal on a timely basis.

The company brings a team of YM specialists including a fully trained dispatcher to each client operation.  They provide a Best Practices Yard Management manual to drive their processes and late model shunt equipment to ensure client operations are up and running.  Every facet of the operation is tracked in real time and action is taken to prevent any downtime or delays.

The NSSL Value Proposition 

There is no up-front cost for software and no contractual obligation.   NSSL places staff at the client site to oversee the operation and they connect both people and software into an integrated solution, tailored to the specific requirement.  NSSL works closely with the client, incorporating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and implementing client specific instructions in their Best Practices Manual during the transition.  Management reports with KPIs are included along with proactive notification about potential demurrage situations.  This allows the client to carry on with their daily business.

For companies that would like to benchmark NSSL against their current YM operation, they can try the NSSL system in one location and compare it to their other locations.   The savings begin the first day the NSSL solution is put in place.

What customers are saying about the NSSL Yard Management Solution

Whirlpool Canada is using NSSL’s integrated solution.  According to Susan Promane, Whirlpool’s Director, Supply Chain in Mississauga, Ontario, “we integrated 14 Canadian warehouses into two, one in Milton, Ontario and one in Calgary, Alberta.  With this integration we realized that we needed more sophistication.  We got that with NSSL.”

Promane adds that Whirpool required more structure and discipline to manage the two warehouses, each of which are over 500,000 square feet. 

“NSSL put the SOPs in place.  They provided the system, drivers and equipment.  They are great operators.  We don’t have to worry about people calling in sick, trucks breaking down.  They are able to flex with the workload.  We are very happy with their operation,” Promane said.

Similar comments were echoed by Ginnie Venslovaitis, Director, Transportation Operations, Hudson’s Bay Company, Rexdale, Ont.

“We had an old home grown system that kept crashing.   What I like about NSSL is their leadership team came in and got personally involved.   They installed the software, the people and the equipment.  Each driver has a tablet computer for data entry and we have visibility into their system through a large screen to see what is loaded and what is billed.  NSSL worked with us on a collaborative basis and took costs out of our operation.   They have been able to expand with us.  We now have them doing our store deliveries in Toronto and managing our containers in Vancouver,” Venslovaitis said.

About National Shunt Services Limited

Established in 1988, NSSL is a family-run business that has grown from a single truck cartage service into a major company whose influence reaches across Canada. It provides a full turnkey shunting operation. That means handling the logistical needs of warehouse operators and manufacturers alike to ensure their goods are properly managed, moved and accounted for through key stages of the supply chain network.  NSSL’s shunting services are designed to help clients better manage their freight and distribution systems throughout their operations. 

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1 Comment » for Yard Management – an inside look at how NSSL delivers a cost effective solution to a long neglected link in their Supply Chains
  1. Joe Pasquale says:

    Great Website.

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