September 29, 2020 | Success Stories

Yard Data and Visibility Increase Efficiency for Major Tech Retailer

Yard Data and Visibility Increase Efficiency for Major Tech Retailer

NSSL partnered with Canada’s largest consumer electronics retailer to launch a fully integrated total yard management program for its coast-to-coast network of over 175 stores. The customer operates several lines of business that encompass in-store and online sales—in fact, they are Canada’s most visited multichannel retailer with over 250 million store and online visits annually. By implementing a structured and measurable program, we were able to improve productivity and reduce incidents in the customer’s network, driving performance and profitability for this $40 billion retail giant.

The Challenge

The customer had been facing some operational challenges prior to their engagement with NSSL that were impeding productivity in its yard network. Paperwork was done manually, which was time consuming and prone to human error. Communication between yard team members and the warehouse was done via walkie talkie, which sometimes caused confusion and miscommunications.

The customer was also struggling with staffing issues due to high driver turnover. To cover yard driver absences, the customer’s previous provider would call in an over-the-road driver to work shifts in the yard. Because these OTR drivers weren’t familiar with yard standard operating procedures (SOPs), these substitutions often hindered productivity and presented safety concerns.

Finally, due to the manual processes used in the yard, the customer had no tools to track its program’s results. Without visibility into how the provider was performing, it was difficult for either side to create accountability for the yard’s impact on the business. 

The Solution

The customer approached NSSL to explore an alternative that would increase the quality of shunt drivers in their yard while reducing the risk posed by incidents and staff turnover. 

We designed a tailored yard management program that would address these concerns and also provide the customer with the visibility that had been lacking. Early in the engagement, our team conducted time studies in the customer’s yard to establish a baseline measurement of several key performance indicators (KPI’s) including moves per hour, driver moves per hour, and more. These initial benchmarks gave our team a baseline upon which to measure improvement. 

The Shuntware YMS implementation offered relief from many challenges the customer had been experiencing and gave them visibility into their yard operations for the first time. The new digital tools replaced many of the manual processes team members had been spending time completing, saving time and instantly recording data. Communication by walkie talkie was enhanced by the use of tablets in the yard, giving drivers a clearer, more proactive picture of what was expected of them during the shift. 

Leaders within the customer’s company and at NSSL were also able to use Shuntware’s customizable reporting to analyze trends. Measuring against the established baseline from the initial time studies, our two teams met regularly to recap wins and opportunities for improvement. 

NSSL was able to alleviate the customer’s staffing concerns by providing more than enough well-trained, experienced shunt drivers. Our safety program and focus on training and SOPs helps operations continue seamlessly no matter which drivers are on site on any given day.

This customer also found NSSL’s event notification feature to be a game changer. Each retail store now receives an in-transit notification when loaded trailers have been processed out by the gatehouse that aids in planning for unloading and restocking. 

The Results

This program began at just one site, and over the following two years the customer implemented NSSL’s program across its entire Canadian network. While Shuntware enables visibility and accountability at the site level in each yard, NSSL and the customer can also look at the data holistically to measure the programs’ ROI for the business as a whole. We meet regularly with leaders from both organizations to review results and strategize future improvements that can be rolled out system wide. 

Since the implementation of NSSL, yard incidents have decreased and overall productivity has improved. The initial time study measured an average of four shunts per hour which has increased at least 50% to an average of between six and seven shunts per hour.

Conclusion

The relationship between NSSL and the customer is continuing to evolve as retailers worldwide pivot to focus more on eCommerce than ever before. Through data-driven decision making and fierce accountability, we are helping this customer maintain their position as a market leader and model of operational excellence.