Logistics still not digitalised enough? This is what Yard Management and Co. can do.

Stefan Seufert, CTO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
A bird's eye view of the yard of a logistics company.

Even though current surveys show that the majority of companies in the logistics sector see themselves as pioneers when it comes to digitalisation, this is not really true – on the contrary, the sector appears to be underperforming. According to their own statements, companies often lack the time and financial resources, and the lack of IT specialists is also a problem. In this article, we show the positive effects of digitalised logistics in terms of productivity and efficiency, how much potential there still is in this area and how the “digitalisation challenge” can be tackled.

EIKONA Logistics Cloud

Software for yard management

Software for organising your premises: EIKONA Yard Management allows you to plan incoming vehicles and ensure efficient processes in your yard.

Lots going on on the yard – but also digitally?

It’s a busy time at the gate: one vehicle after another arrives and the gatekeeper has his hands full registering the incoming lorries. In a non-digital world, this would have been the time for paper registration forms – but there's a better way today!

With the help of yard management software, the registration process for lorries and drivers is digital. The positions of the individual vehicles in the yard are always clear: the locations of trailers and swap bodies can be marked on maps, and pre-collection processes can also be defined with the software. At the graphical control centre, the yard scheduler can see the status of vehicles, ramps and available space at any time. This makes it much easier to maintain an overview and enables the transport process to be optimised from the factory gate to the unloading point. Read the following paragraph to find out how this works in practice.

Intelligent yard control: how yard management works

In principle, smart yard control starts before the yard, namely at the barrier. Smart barrier systems work with cameras that recognise licence plates. This eliminates the need for staff to be present at the gate to decide whether access is granted or not. If the freight forwarders making deliveries and collections have booked a fixed time slot using the time slot management system, they can enter their data (such as load, licence plate number, etc.) when registering – the barrier automatically recognises that the vehicle should be granted access to the yard. A check-in terminal, where drivers can enter their data on spontaneous arrival, takes care of the remaining cases.

Communication with the driver is also handled by the system. The driver receives information about which ramp or car park to go to via an app notification or text message. Time stamps can be used to track all of the lorry’s steps in the yard, which makes yard management significantly easier.

One thing is essential for this intelligent yard management system to work: a stable Wi-Fi infrastructure. Because without reliable Wi-Fi, the potential of yard management, which helps to smoothly organise the process from the factory gate to the unloading point, cannot be utilised.

Location networking: one for all, all for one

The larger a company becomes, the more locations it usually has. Logistics centres are becoming increasingly complex in terms of their structure – and so is digitalisation. It’s not just the immense size that they sometimes have nowadays, but also the number of processes and quantities to be handled that are increasing so quickly that it can soon become dizzying. If each of these locations were to be equipped, configured and maintained separately with (WiFi-)technology, there would be different standards and a higher susceptibility to errors on the one hand, and on the other, the effort involved would be enormous.

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are created to enable the secure networking of different locations in a wide area network (WAN), even over long distances. The connection is secured in such a way that unauthorised persons have no access to the communication and the shared data. Monitoring software makes it possible to keep an eye on the connections at all times. This makes it possible to react quickly before a failure occurs. The individual configurations of the access points and switches inside the logistics WiFi can also be easily implemented remotely. WAN backups ensure that the connection is permanently stable. This means that work can continue with the usual high network performance despite any localised disruptions.

But it’s not just the different locations of a company that should be networked with each other; communication within a location (Local Area Network = LAN) must also function – and in real time. A solid WiFi infrastructure must be carefully planned so that the network ultimately performs as desired. For this purpose, all aspects such as the structural conditions, the number of users and logged-in devices, the bandwidth requirements and the signal strength and range are included in the planning. Here you can read how we tackle a WiFi-project.

IT skills shortage? Outsource your IT topics.

It is not always necessary to have IT specialists on site to drive forward the digitalisation of a business – it can also be an option to outsource these issues to a managed services provider so that you can concentrate fully on your core business again. And with the support of digitalised systems! This can be a viable option, especially for smaller or medium-sized companies that would not be able to afford their own IT department. There are many models for this. It is up to you to decide whether you want to outsource data protection issues or outsource the entire operation and maintenance of your IT.


When it really needs to fit: Logistics solutions from a single source

The mobile scanners are freshly loaded, the yard control software is ready for use, but not a single signal bar is visible in the hall – the connection is not working. What does this example show? Without a proper network structure, even the best software is not worth much. Digitalisation must be considered holistically, otherwise the desired success cannot be achieved.

It is therefore worth taking a close look when selecting software providers and system houses. After all, what’s the point if the two areas work well separately but can’t be combined properly? Or if the software is up to date but the hardware can’t keep up? That’s why logistics solutions from a single source are worthwhile. This way, the systems and software are perfectly harmonised. Because only with a high-performance WLAN infrastructure can the full potential of digitalised logistics, which works with yard management systems, track and trace and the like, be exploited.

Stefan Seufert
Stefan Seufert
CTO / Vorstand

Wie kein Zweiter fuchst sich der Software-Entwickler als Meister des Konzepts in die Anforderungen von Logistikdienstleistern. Informationen sicher und effizient auszutauschen und damit auch den physischen Logistik-Prozess zu beschleunigen, ist seine Leidenschaft.

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