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Supervalu feasts on yard visibility


Phase one alone has saved Supervalu’s Lancaster DC more then 80 wasted man hours out in the yard and an additional 40 hours for its logistics and shipping departments—a total of 120 saved hours.

By Bridget McCrea, Contributing Editor
September 01, 2012

Super users
In many cases, YMS is implemented as part of a larger warehouse management system (WMS), says Steve Banker, director of supply chain solutions at software analyst firm ARC Advisory Group.

Because of this, growth in the YMS market isn’t typically tracked or broken out separately in order to ascertain adoption rates among shippers. Banker says shippers tend to realize different benefits from their YMS investments, depending on their individual operations and the type of solution that they select.

A YMS that is attached to a WMS, for example, focuses on moving warehouse workers as efficiently as possible to the dock doors, where they then load and/or unload trucks. One that’s associated with a transportation management system (TMS), on the other hand, centers on scheduling trucks in order to gain the most efficiencies.

Finally, standalone YMS, such as the system Supervalu put into place, helps users find assets in a yard and move trucks from yard to dock door more efficiently. In Supervalu’s case, Banker says a major payback comes when truck jockeys no longer have to scour the yard for their respective trucks.

“Labor isn’t sitting around, waiting for instructions,” says Banker, “and there’s less chance that a truck will show up and have to wait five or six hours for a dock door to open up.”
Not long after the 30-day YMS implementation wrapped up, Supervalu was already realizing those and other benefits. At its vendor’s suggestion, the company cultivated a group of seven “super users” who received intensive training on the system, and who then worked one-on-one with other employees to bring the entire logistics team up to speed on the YMS.

The super users also fielded questions and addressed any issues that came up during the two months immediately following implementation. “Breaking some of our personnel from their old habits of doing things manually and moving into a more system-based program was one of the biggest issues,” says Kroutch. “That took about 60 days to work through, but worked out just fine.”

No more paper
Kroutch is happy to report that the days when personnel from Supervalu’s Lancaster shipping office had to whip out their pens and paper to get its jockeys set up for a day of work are long gone.

Phase one of the company’s YMS implementation is complete and those jockeys now receive automated messages stating: “We need these trailers at these doors.” The jockeys now know where the trailers are and no longer have to scour the yard for them.

Supervalu now knows where each trailer is, which trailers have moved, what trailers haven’t been moved for a day or so, and how they’re currently utilizing those trailers. “All of that data can be retrieved quickly using the YMS,” says Kroutch.

Phase one alone has saved Supervalu’s Lancaster DC more then 80 wasted man hours out in the yard and an additional 40 hours for its logistics and shipping departments—a total of 120 saved hours. “That means we can actually cut down on the number of trailers we have from a capital perspective,” says Kroutch, noting that a major intangible benefit is the visibility that the company now has over its yard assets—something it previously lacked.

The latest phase of Supervalu’s YMS rollout gave the company a tracking system that integrates with our WMS to identify exactly when its own fleet, private food carriers, or third-party carriers are entering its yard with purchase orders. “Having that information at our fingertips and in real-time, has really helped our receiving function,” says Kroutch, who envisions a time when the company can leverage its YMS across its entire supply chain and use it to collaborate in real-time with all of its business partners and carriers.

“We want to get to that next phase of carrier partnering, which would allow us to get our tags on different carriers and create even more visibility outside of the yard fence line,” says Kroutch, who hints that another large Supervalu DC in Minneapolis is currently considering the new YMS.

With two successful implementation phases behind her and another one around the corner, Kroutch says that she’s very pleased with the solution, particularly the hour-savings that it has provided the company. “That was one of our key deliverables,” she says, “and we realized it within a fairly short period of time.”

About the Author

Bridget McCrea
Contributing Editor

Bridget McCrea is a Contributing Editor for Logistics Management based in Clearwater, Fla. She has covered the transportation and supply chain space since 1996, and has covered all aspects of the industry for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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