RFID streamlines yard management, enhances visibility

Global 3PL replaces paper-based system with removable RFID tags and cloud-based software to double gate throughput.

By ·

Exel, a global contract logistics provider, operates a multi-customer, trans-load facility in Southern California. The 300-space facility serves primarily as a deconsolidation center, unloading sea containers and shipping materials for points across North America for a variety of retail customers. After installing radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking technology, the company has streamlined yard management and has full visibility to the exact location of trailers and containers at the site.

Before the new system, employees would walk or drive through the yard with a pen and clipboard to count and locate trailers. This practice led to problems such as site congestion; shipment delays and related product shrinkage; costly detention and demurrage penalties due to delays, wasted labor, time and fuel.

Having piloted RFID solutions with various consumer-industry customers since the late 1990s, Exel decided to partner with an equipment supplier (Motorola, motorolasolutions.com) and a solutions provider (PINC Solutions, pincsolutions.com) to develop a yard management system (YMS). The team designed a solution focused on advanced asset location capabilities using real-time location systems (RTLS) rather than using the full capabilities of a more traditional, static YMS.

Implementation of the project took less than four months and required minimal IT hardware and software to support the operations. Key system elements include:
• a gate management module at the entrance to the facility,
• tracker modules for the yard trucks that move trailers and containers around the site,
• a software system for administrative users and customer service representatives that allows for yard visibility, customizable fields and easy configuration, and
• use of a Web-based, software as a service, eliminating the need for on-site servers.

Upon arrival, trailers from various shippers each receive a temporary RFID asset tag with unique fleet and shipment information. The trailer is then moved directly to the assigned parking spot, zone or dock door. Yard trucks equipped with RFID readers and GPS receivers serve as the tracker modules and monitor the location of yard assets and shipments, driver details, and arrival and exit times. When trailers exit the facility, tags are removed.

The system performs yard counts on an on-going basis and provides e-mail notification of events. All documentation is digitally stored, searchable and remotely accessible. Service representatives have quick access to high-level information which reduces data entry during check-in.

The system has doubled gate throughput while eliminating manual yard checks and most paper-based documentation. The improved operational control and tracking of assets has led to improved productivity. Penalties such as detention and demurrage charges associated with yard delays have been eliminated. Administrative demands declined by one-third, and drivers spend less time waiting and more time driving, improving productivity and reducing emissions. 

“At Exel, we are constantly looking for technological solutions to streamline operations and reduce costs to benefit our customers,” says Tony Hollis, Exel’s director of innovation and emerging technologies. “While RFID technology can be costly and complex, we worked with our partners to develop a practical, cost-effective application that supports efficient operations for our customers on a daily basis.”


About the Author

Josh Bond, Senior Editor
Josh Bond is Senior Editor for Modern, and was formerly Modern’s lift truck columnist and associate editor. He has a degree in Journalism from Keene State College and has studied business management at Franklin Pierce University.

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Supplier Relationship Micro Management
Optimizing Across Six Guiding Principles
Download Today!
From the July 2017 Logistics Management Issue
E-commerce continues to fuel a boom that’s tempered by overcapacity, rate pressures, sluggish demand and political doubt. The result: “cognitive dissonance” that finds a $1.4 trillion market scratching its head.
2017 Truckload Brokerage Roundtable: Technology continues to connect the dots
Cloud Transportation Management Systems (TMS): Weis Markets streamlines “both sides” of the DC door
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Getting the most out of your 3PL relationship
Join Evan Armstrong, president of Armstrong & Associates, as he explains how creating a balanced portfolio of "Top 50" global and domestic partners can maximize efficiency and mitigate risk.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
28th Annual State of Logistics: Into the great unknown
E-commerce continues to fuel a boom that’s tempered by overcapacity, rate pressures, sluggish...
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...

The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...