While congestion is increasing on American highways, trucking companies also face traffic jams much closer to home — in their terminal yards. Finding and minding all the trailers moving in and out of yards these days is a laborious task. But if done accurately, it can save time and money for fleets.

A new version of WhereNet Corp.'s tracking system — WhereSoft Yard version 5.0 — was specifically developed to improve management of medium-to-large trucking terminal yards, according to the company.

“Most of our yard operations are now on ‘auto pilot’ thanks to it,” says Jim Gordon, director of industrial engineering and systems distribution for carpet maker Shaw Industries. The company installed WhereNet Yard at its main 79-acre distribution site in Dalton, GA, along with two supporting centers.

Better management of the more than 500,000 shipments from these facilities annually has helped Shaw increased yard velocity and capacity, improve equipment utilization and door turns, reduce transportation expenses by selecting the right trailers for outbound routes based on negotiated carrier rates, decrease manual yard checks, and create automatic email notification to carriers, resulting in more effective onsite equipment management.

“We have configurable execution rules to ensure that the right trailers are brought to the right dock doors at the right time,” he says. “By automating business processes and increasing throughput, we have already realized a complete return on our investment in less than one year, and plan to implement WhereSoft Yard in at least three more distribution facilities this year.”

Steve Raymond, vp-consulting services for WhereNet, says that the company's yard management product can function effectively without using a real time location system (RTLS) based on radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. “However, when the environment dictates precise asset location as a requirement for delivering the optimal solution, we can provide a solution architecture that combines WhereSoft Yard and RTLS to get the job done, particularly for large yards,” he says.

Key functions within the system help speed up trailer flow within the yard, according to Raymond. For example, the system's “directed assignment” mode automatically assigns moves to specific drivers based on move priority, driver status, and driver location relative to the trailer that needs to be moved. This helps minimize travel distance and increase dock door turns, thereby boosting overall yard capacity, he says.