As supply chain data and visibility standards continually increase, businesses need to digitalize and streamline freight movement at every level.

Driver apps, geotracking, TMS, WMS, and YMS all contribute to meeting the growing demand from carriers and shippers for more precise visibility into their freight lifecycle, down to a pinpoint and moment.

For container depots, parking and storage yards, inventory management and reporting systems are becoming vital tools to increase efficiency and accuracy through real-time inventory reporting, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction and success.

The negative impact of inaccurate gate data

Depots and yards have often been visibility black holes within the supply chain, requiring operators to modernize gate interchanges to eliminate mistakes and back-office headaches.

Firstly, all yards need some version of driver and booking validation to monitor who and what is passing through their facility gates. Staffing gate clerks at 24/7 yards can be expensive, but this function is essential to properly secure the yard and the freight within. Without it, yards are less attractive and may not maximize revenue.

Gate staff turnover or disruptions (for example, a clerk calls in sick) can create a multitude of problems stemming from this crucial business junction that must be reliable.

Additionally, yards cannot fully ensure the accuracy of manual check-in/out processes like paper inventory logs and spreadsheets. Handwritten records may not be legible, papers can get lost, and important credential information can go missing.

Harbor Division, which operates three container yards around Long Beach and Los Angeles, has been listing yard space and using the SecurSpace gate management system since 2019.

“Historically, prior to using SecurSpace, we would do the gate interchanges manually. It's in a guard shack in the middle of the yard. Paper gets lost, crumbled, damaged, dirty,” said David Hauser, President at Harbor Division.

“We would do a weekly yard check where a guy would drive around the whole yard in his truck to look at a couple hundred containers. And you're counting on this guy to get every single digit of that container number correct. There's so much room for error.”

Relying on these human-touch, analog methods is labor-intensive, unreliable, and insufficient to meet enhanced supply chain visibility standards. Businesses are now modernizing their yard with inventory management and reporting systems, such as a gate management system (GMS).

Managing yard inventory and reporting with a gate management system

A GMS quickly and accurately tracks all incoming and outgoing equipment. A gate operator simply inputs driver, truck, trailer, and/or container data into the platform upon arrival and departure.

This gives property owners a live look at current inventory and historical interchanges. The centralized, standardized information means data is more accurate, secure, and easily shared with customers and connected systems. All invoices, overages, and account information are then managed within the system.

This can be furthered with an automated gate system (AGS) which uses hardware – driver kiosk, optical camera recognition, and gate arm – to validate driver info, capture equipment markings, and check the container, trailer, truck in or out of the system.

Driving security, visibility, accuracy, and profitability

The data accuracy provided by a GMS can lead to a range of benefits including:

  • Improved security and liability – track exactly who and what is moving through the yard, including equipment conditions.
  • Reduced workload and paperwork – consistent data input helps catch billing errors and clean up physical paper trails.
  • Increased revenue – seamlessly charge for overuse or overstays, while optimizing inventory so available space is known and rentable.

All of this is managed from one dashboard that can integrate into a yard management system or customers’ TMS to provide real-time visibility on interchange events and driver and container milestones.

“They can research who the driver was, what the chassis number was, any information they would typically pick up the phone and call us for is now right in front of them,” said David, describing how the SecurSpace GMS has improved their customer experience.

Yard owners using an AGS can be confident in the data provided to their customers, thanks to the AI in the optical camera recognition (OCR) technology which mitigates errors. Additionally, gate transaction time is reduced, guards can be relocated into a secure office space, and drivers can stay in their cabs, creating a better experience for all parties. With no permits needed and minimal site prep, an AGS can be quickly installed and made operational.

Reducing errors, increasing profitability

“There's been a very clear line in the sand for us, a night and day difference in business since working with SecurSpace,” said David. “Our error log went from, let's say 50 a week to one.”

Now, Harbor Division has a clear view of their yards and can optimize operations for maximized profitability. Overages are captured and invoiced, while underutilized space can be rented. Admin workload and errors have decreased, resulting in lower overhead. Real-time inventory also gives their customers better visibility and experience.

By modernizing gate interchanges with a GMS and AGS, businesses can significantly reduce errors, increase profitability, and enhance overall operational efficiency. As supply chain visibility standards continue to rise, these systems offer a turnkey solution to meet and exceed customer expectations, driving success in a competitive market.

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Yard inventory management is essential for asset tracking and security. Discover how the SecureSpace gate management system can boost your efficiency and accuracy with real-time yard inventory reporting.