We’re talking about yard management systems today. The supply chain crisis cemented e-commerce in the American psyche. One estimate shows US retail e-commerce grew 32.9% to $792B in response to the pandemic. By 2025, retail e-commerce is estimated to increase by $1Trillion to $1.7T. The US likes our e-commerce. Put another way, yard management is the low-hanging fruit of supply chain optimization.

Whether the yard is at a port, a warehouse, or a rail yard, it’s clear. Yards are a key link in the supply chain. And we know the challenges we face in many yards: Increased shipment volumes. Scheduling issues. Miscommunication. Container, truck, and chassis shortages. Driver and labor shortages. Pandemic-related restrictions. It’s safe to say our yard management systems have helped avoid the challenges of the supply chain crisis from being much worse!

Yard management systems have indeed been a savior at the local supply chain level of the individual warehouse, port, and yard. But beyond that, YMS innovations are a great onramp toward optimizing the national and global supply chain as a whole. The entire supply chain, really? Quite the moon shot! But one rooted firmly in common sense.

This is what the Consumer Brands Association Task Force is working on. Vector CEO Will Chu helped organize the task force, which consists of supply chain leaders like CBA, CSCMP, GS1 US, Accenture, Coca Cola, Coyote Logistics, and Werner Trucking. This is also called the EBOL Task Force in honor of their primary goal—the standardization, digitalization, and automation of electronic bills of lading (EBOL) across the supply chain industry.

The EBOL Task Force: Driving Yard Management Optimization and Standardization

The EBOL Task Force is a prime example of collaboration between industry, technology, and leadership. In short, the work of the EBOL Task Force is one reason I’m so optimistic about the future of the supply chain.

Sure, everyone talks about building a more resilient supply chain. But this task force isn’t just a brainstorming session with fifty unachievable goals. On the contrary, the EBOL Task Force focuses on pragmatic, granular, boots-on-the-ground solutions. The result? The first large-scale contactless standard for EBOLs in the industry.

As such, the EBOL Task Force spent a lot of time focusing on our topic today: yard management systems. The members of the EBOL Task Force come from every corner of the supply chain world. Tech companies. Trucking companies. 3PLs. Manufacturers. Distributors. Industry organizations. One thing everyone has in common? The desire for more optimized, streamlined yard management. EBOLs and YMS software are a big part of that.

So today, we’ll take a high-level look at popular YMS software to see how the industry is optimizing yard management and handling EBOLs.

Defining Yard Management

As noted, when e-commerce boomed, yard management systems (YMS) became vital. More transactional traffic threatens warehouses with increased operational costs, detention charges, and other inefficiencies. Thus, increased visibility and process optimization provided by yard management can improve overall operational efficiency. Put another way, YMS software helps track, stage, and streamline inbound and outbound traffic at a warehouse.

It’s fairly common to regard the yard as an extension of the warehouse, which makes sense when we consider the endless flow of inbound and outbound operations. As such, YMS evolved organically with warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS). And it’s worth noting that many systems and their technological features integrate across all three platforms.

Yard management systems help level-load the flow of yard traffic to avoid bottlenecks. In short, YMS helps facilitate more traffic and transactions in less time. And everyone in the supply chain industry knows time is money.

Ultimately, this ties into the theory driving the EBOL Task Force. Standardized integration could allow trucks to fly in and out of warehouses. For example, one time trial they ran reduced turnaround time at a warehouse from 66 minutes to 11 minutes. That’s flying!

Which 4.8+ Star YMS Options Are Winning the Popularity Contest?

YMS options keep getting better and better. The YMS industry leaders keep raising the bar on system features, user experience, and overall value proposition.

It’s a fine example, in my opinion, of healthy market dynamics driving innovation. So how do we gauge which YMS is the most popular? We’re going to do something very meta. We’ll utilize the market research method we deploy on the e-commerce websites driving the need for innovative YMS platforms!

In short, we’re reading the user reviews and counting stars! Very meta.

Tell me you don’t do this! We’re too busy, so we outsource half our brains to other people. By filtering reviews and stars, we optimize our decision-making process.

As such, a YMS product on Capterra.com with a 4.8+ star rating gets graded as a solid A in my book. If it has at least ten reviewers and averages 4.8 stars, I’m basically going to round up to 5 stars. Put another way, if ten other people consider something a solid A, I’m pretty confident that I could be the eleventh.

This is how we eliminate options and simplify our decision-making process.

So that said, of the 64 companies reviewed on Capterra, here are the top four finalists in our unofficially official YMS popularity contest:

So let’s dive into the reviews and see what makes a few of these options popular!

Redlist

The top name on our list, Redlist is cutting edge. Diving deeper, Redlist is cloud-based SAAS and operates via a mobile app. Redlist integrates with many other systems, substitutes paper processes with digital ones, provides streamlined real-time data, and helps ensure driver safety.

Best quote from a reviewer: “I like the ability to copy jobs that might have had the same address or details so I don’t have to retype everything. I also like the ability to add files to jobs. And that I can see what jobs are going in a given day, as well as what crane and what operator are assigned to that job.”

I can see why Redlist tops our list. It might not be a household name, but its YMS platform has all the modern tools needed to get trucks in and out of a yard as quickly as possible.

Digital Yard by PINC

Next on the list is Digital Yard. According to the PINC website, Digital Yard is the number-one selling yard management system. That may be enough information to make you hit the buy button alone.

Here’s what PINC says about themselves: “According to our customers, the key reasons they have selected PINC’s yard management system are proven results, quick deployment, immediate value, ease-of-use, automation, scalability, the ability to easily integrate to other systems, and quick time to benefit.”

Best quote from a reviewer: “After a thorough review of the 6 YMS vendor products, the project team unanimously selected PINC. The features, reporting, tracking, and product maturity were large factors. Along with the flexibility of launching with the ‘passive’ RFID tag version.”

Key takeaway? PINC is a YMS market leader for good reason. Invest with confidence.

MobiWork

Mobiwork bills itself as a complete software solution for container and yard management. This positions Mobiwork as a key solutions provider to the main culprits of the supply chain crisis.

Mobiwork describes its product as providing visibility and streamlining: “End-to-end containers & yard management software for your employees in the field, in the office, and your customers.”

Best quote from a reviewer: “The alerts and notifications features reduce manual labor hours in contacting and following up with our field technicians. EDI capabilities along with a seamless integration process allow for increased productivity for our staff.”

Mobiwork doesn’t limit the optimization to just the yard personnel. Instead, they take a holistic approach and understand that digitization streamlines everyone’s workflow in the entire organization. Extrapolated out, this is what the EBOL Task Force is promoting with standardization.

Yard Management Software by YardView

YardView has been leading the YMS industry for over 20 years. Their combined longevity and review strength is unmatched on Capterra, making this a strong option.

YardView promotes their software as a full suite of features. “Visibility to all assets, coordinating their movement, managing the gates, docks, loads and drivers. Status, contents, type, detail, damage tracking, seal verification, reefer audits and more with visibility consoles, dashboards and customized reports to help streamline your operation and gain insight into all activity in real time. Very easy to use. Customized for each operation. Supported by industry Experts.”

Best quote from a reviewer: “The software is straightforward and easy to use for any user. Minimal training was needed because the interface is so user friendly. An immediate ROI was realized in reduced man hours, and gained visibility and use analytics which gave us the ability to better track our assets and maintain our facilities.”

In short, YardView is a simple, convenient tool that will let you manage your yard with ease.

We Must Adopt an EBOL Standard

Spend a small amount of time on a site like Vector or YardView and it piques your imagination. What if the entire supply chain integrated, spoke the same language, had visibility?

The bottom line is this: as our technology improves, we need to collaborate even more. But in a smarter way. So let’s align on a simple set of contactless standards.

Yes, detractors will worry that there will always be exceptions and edge cases. We can corral the exceptions accordingly. And at the same time, once we align on a standard, perhaps so many bottlenecks will be eliminated that even exceptions won’t be seem so exceptional anymore.

This post was written by Brian Deines. Brian believes that every day is a referendum on a brand’s relevance, and he’s excited to bring that kind of thinking to the world of modern manufacturing and logistics. He deploys a full-stack of business development, sales, and marketing tools built through years of work in the logistics, packaging, and tier-1 part supply industries serving a customer base comprised of Fortune 1000 OEMs.