To manage a high volume of inbound and outbound yard traffic, Supervalu relies on its YMS to streamline its operations, save time, and improve docking capabilities.
With more than 1,100 traditional retail food stores, Supervalu, Inc., relies on a smooth-running supply chain to get its food from the warehouse to the customer’s dinner table. An integral component of Supervalu’s supply chain sits just outside of the DC door in the yards, where a steady stream of trucks and drivers flow in and out of the company’s gates on a daily basis.
“We’re shipping almost 1,000 loads per week here,” says Beth Kroutch, general manager for the company’s 1.7 million-square-foot Lancaster, Pa., distribution center (DC). “That results in a high volume of both inbound and outbound traffic in the yard.”
As one of the nation’s largest food retailers, Supervalu, Inc., uses technology to streamline its yard operations, improve docking capabilities, and shave man-hours from its daily processes—all while adding a critical layer of supply chain visibility.
Previously, Supervalu used a manual process for managing its high volume of traffic and logistical operations that supported this system. Shipping office employees would write out the details about the loads, the trailer sizes and/or numbers, how they needed to be moved, and any other pertinent information by hand, on paper.
The information slips were placed in a mailbox that was situated on the outside of the building. Jockeys drove up, opened the mailbox, accessed the directions, and then decided among themselves who would handle which moves for the day.
“We knew that we needed to get more efficient with our moves, particularly when it came to trucks backing into the doors and timely movement of completed loads away from them,” Kroutch told Logistics Management, adding that size sensitivity—from the trailer perspective—also came into play. “We needed a solution that would help manage drop trailers from vendors, give us visibility over yard assets, and help us become more efficient with its shipments,” she adds.
Finding the Right Solution
In a video interview with 21st Century Business, Kroutch noted that for the Supervalu DC in question, yard management was an important next step in achieving better efficiencies.
“We had a very manual process here, a paper process, using a mailbox system where the driver would drive up and get the information off a piece of paper and then do all the moves required on that paper,” she points out. “We felt that getting something more automated definitely would benefit us at a facility that has 200+ dock doors.”
Finding a solution that addressed all of those needs took about a year. As one of its first steps, the team developed “must-have” criteria for the solution, identified its expected ROI, and figured out the system requirements for such solutions. The cloud-based YMS option made it particularly attractive for Supervalu, which was looking for a quick implementation time and minimal stress for its internal IT staff.
The fact that Kaleris YMS would allow the company to extend capabilities to third parties sealed the deal. Kaleris’advanced yard management solution leverages a real-time location system for RTLS to provide the users with accurate and timely information, enabling them to better manage their resources and operations.
Real-Time Visibility Wanted
Not long after the YMS implementation period wrapped up, Supervalu was already realizing those and other benefits. At its vendor’s suggestion, the company cultivated a group of seven “super users” who received intensive training on the system, and who then worked one-on-one with other employees to bring the entire logistics team up to speed on the YMS.
Kroutch notes that because the Kaleris YMS is web-based, it required the “least amount of programming” to get started. The retail grocer also likes the fact that users can be given access to that website and then use it to track their trailers.
Supervalu’s Steve Michaels adds that increasing real-time supply chain visibility provides enterprise leverage of existing systems, reduces inventory carrying costs, and enhances competitive positioning through greater efficiencies in the supply chain logistics management process.
“Aside from just the efficiency of being able to reduce hours and see some benefit from a cost perspective that way, the real-time visibility that Kaleris offers us in being able to see what’s going on in our yard has really helped us be better managers related to the types of trailers that we need to use,” Kroutch adds, “and also being able to service our customers better and in a more timely fashion.