Cost Plus World Market has deployed an IoT-based yard management solution from Kaleris to manage shipments across its distribution network, improve visibility at each facility, and reduce costs.
Prior to implementing the Kaleris Yard Management System (YMS), Cost Plus World Market (CPWM) was a “billion-dollar business that couldn’t start our day without a truck driver with a flashlight, an ink pen, and a clipboard doing manual yard checks,” according to Steve Ming, Director of Domestic Logistics, to propel itself beyond those manual processes, the company set out to find a yard management solution that would accurately reflect CPWM’s real-time activity.
With 276 stores in 36 states and in the District of Columbia, CPWM owns stores that feature an ever-changing selection of casual home decor and furniture, housewares, gifts, jewelry, decorative accessories, over 500 international wines, gourmet foods, and beverages offered at affordable prices and imported from more than 50 countries.
Wanted: Improved Accuracy and Lower Labor Costs
Coming from a transportation background, and now working in the shipper community, Steve Ming, speaking at the Supply Chain Logistics Summit, says CPWM’s distribution network consists of 2 million square feet and includes a warehouse in Stockton, Ca, and a similar facility in Windsor, Va. Using both dry and refrigerated over-the-road (OTR) trailers, both warehouses include more than 100 dock doors, 550 trailer positions, and a guard shack.
To best streamline its supply chain, expedite the receipt of goods, and monitor its trailer fleet, the retailer needed a YMS that would replace a manual system it had been using for years and also could scale and provide visibility across its distribution network. Equipped with a state-of-the-art YMS, CPWM would also be able to improve each distribution center’s (DC) yard efficiency, reduce costs, and automate its various yard management processes.
“We needed to improve accuracy, reduce labor costs, and improve asset utilization,” Ming says, noting that better asset utilization was a particularly important goal, especially in light of the finite number of carriers that the company has to choose from in the domestic shipping environment.
“[During] peak season, we have issues,” Steve Ming says. Its California facility, for example, competes directly with the state’s active produce season. “Two-thirds of all fresh fruits and vegetables coming out of California are grown in a 75-mile square that we’re right in the middle of,” he notes. “Because we’re competing with these folks, real-time visibility, and trackability allow us to be a shipper of choice.”
Automating Manual Processes
Using the Kaleris system, CPWM has improved its DC yard efficiency and reduced costs by automating many yard management processes that were previously performed manually. For example, an RFID interrogator built into CPWM’s yard entrance gate reads the tag of an arriving trailer. Once that trailer has entered the yard, its tag is read by an RFID interrogator built into Kaleris’ Tracker appliance, which is mounted inside a yard truck, also known as a shunt truck, used to reposition trailers within the yard.
As the truck moves through the yard, it passes within range of the trailer’s tag and its Tracker collects the tag ID, associating it with the location coordinates determined by its built-in GPS receiver. Because the truck is in motion, the Tracker appliance also contains inertial sensors to measure the yard truck’s movement in relation to stationary trailers. The sensors measure such things as the yard truck’s acceleration and rotation. This data, along with the signal strength of the tag reads, is plugged into algorithms developed by Kaleris, to pinpoint each trailer’s location.
Big Wins for CPWM
Using Kaleris YMS, CPWM has been able to eliminate daily, manual yard checks while gaining real-time yard visibility. It has also reduced its private fleet trailer pool and gone down to using just one driver per shift at each of its facilities. “We’ve also reduced tractor-trailer fuel consumption and introduced automated reporting throughout the DC,” says Ming.
Other big wins for CPWM include improved carrier visibility and better communication across its transportation partners. “Really, the hard savings for us was easy,” says Ming, “and included the reduction in trailers, fewer yard drivers, reduction of fuel consumption, and the elimination of cell phones.”
In terms of soft savings, CPWM was able to redirect administrative labor, reduce the number of spoiled loads, and better prioritize refrigerated units. Cumulatively, these wins have added up to a more streamlined, efficient yard management process for CPWM. “This is a product that has dramatically changed the way we do business,” says Ming, who doesn’t normally endorse specific vendors, “and it’s absolutely something that we’re behind.”