One of NYK Logistics’ customers is Target, which operates one of the highest-volume, most demanding distribution channels in the world, generating annual revenue greater than $10 billion. At its Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach facility, NYK sought to improve container handling in a 70-acre yard and transload facility featuring 1,200 parking slots and 250 dock doors. By replacing a homegrown yard management system (YMS) with an automated system to handle 90% of its yard operations, the company increased dock door utilization, reduced congestion and increased throughput.
The company manages more than 50,000 inbound ocean freight containers from the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and 30,000 outbound trailers every year, coordinating on-time shipments to 22 different Target DCs across the United States. The facility operates 24/7 and processes more than 1,000 gate transactions daily during peak season, checking in and out containers and trailers from 11 different steamship lines and 12 to 15 domestic carriers.
Previously, yard personnel, armed with clipboards, pads of paper, walkie-talkies and golf carts, would constantly roam the yard, manually entering data and scanning bar codes on containers to try to keep up with the current inventory. To make matters worse, drivers didn’t always drop their containers in the assigned parking spaces.
“No matter how many people we threw at the problem—we even used an old pick-up truck to expedite the data collection process—we were always a day late and a dollar short as the saying goes,” says Rick Pople, general manager of NYK’s Long Beach operations. “In our case, those days and dollars quickly escalated into thousands of dollars when you consider higher inventory, more labor and lengthy yard turns.”
Goals for a new system included increased revenue through better yard throughput, improved service levels and reduced costs by improving tractor efficiency and eliminating manual checks. The new wireless real-time locating system (Zebra, zebra.com) and YMS was deployed in less than 75 days, and now provides accurate location information for every container, trailer and tractor within the yard.
“It’s common for us to be required to deconsolidate a container and transload its contents onto several different outbound trailers in less than two hours,” Pople says. “We could have never dreamed of doing that with the old system.”
Upon arrival at the gate, every container or trailer gets tagged. From this point forward, personnel have constant connectivity to their yard assets and can also use handheld devices to transmit data. Based on driver feedback, the new system contributes to a 50% reduction in time spent on site to complete a double transaction.