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October 20, 2022 | Insights

What is Shuttling, and How Does It Improve Yard Management and Delivery?

October 20, 2022 | Insights

Shuttling (another term for milk run or last-mile delivery) is a concept that most logistics professionals are likely familiar with. Shuttling is a method of moving inventory from a warehouse or distribution center yard to its next location—this can be a retail store, grocery store or even an industrial plant.

How can shuttling positively impact your yard management and in turn, improve customer service, reduce complaints, and increase profit margins? 

What is Shuttling? 

Milk runs were named as such during the Second World War. Milk delivery services would drive the same route to deliver fresh milk to customers and pick up their empty bottles. Today, that concept refers to making the consistent delivery of parts, supplies, and other materials to more than one area in need of restocking while using the same trip to pick up used equipment (racks, etc.).

Shuttling helps reduce downtime by improving production processes in a distribution center (DC) and the shipping yard and remains a reliable and standardized method of optimizing demand within the supply chain. When you time your resupply with peak demand, you make sure the warehouse staff can work seamlessly during the busiest seasons, daytime hours, etc. This helps both the oversupply or overstocking of one area and makes sure that the areas in need of more goods are addressed in a more on-demand way. 

Also, it’s called “last mile” delivery for a reason. Shuttling is not a form of long-haul trucking. In fact, shuttling services typically cover a relatively short distance. The most common type of equipment used for shuttling is a day cab truck. Day cab trucks can make shorter deliveries in densely populated areas and travel over surface roads at speeds of around 25 MPH/30 km/hr.


Advantages of Shuttling Services

Last-mile delivery is safer for your products and your customer’s bottom line. Shuttling or last-mile delivery can reduce risks of spoilage and waste for your customers. Products shipped shorter distances in smaller vehicles are less likely to get damaged. The less products are handled, the less likely they will be broken or sit too long in a yard. 

Also, when a shipment is damaged or spoiled, you have to conduct some level of investigation into your own warehouses and yards to discover what went wrong, and that’s in addition to potentially absorbing the cost of spoilage. 

By working with a third-party shuttling service provider with decades’ worth of expertise in yard management, you can save valuable time and resources. In addition, your team in the yard can work more efficiently without facing bottlenecks. You also improve communication between yard operations and shuttle drivers for optimal delivery and pickups. 


How Does Shuttling Increase the DC’s Yard Efficiency?

You can’t improve what you can’t see. The more information you have about your yard, the better you can organize delivery schedules, communicate with your operators and drivers, and (most importantly!) get goods to your customers where they want them, when they need them. 

Yard management systems that provide key information (trailers, status, etc.) enable you to manage shipments from a user-friendly, graphical interface. That real-time information gives your leadership and staff the information they need about shipments from the moment they pull up to the gate and the second they leave your yard. 

That critical data further ensures the team needs less bandwidth to search for missing shipments or trailers, manage dock assignments, and help avoid traffic issues like double-booked docks or long wait lines for incoming freight. 


Need Help Optimizing Your Last Mile? 

NSSL is proud to offer cost-effective shuttling services for our customers. In addition to the premium benefits we provide to a range of industries like grocery, food and beverage, CPG, chemical, and more, those same customers can now access trained, skilled drivers for their last-mile delivery beyond the yard.

With over 30 years of experience in the shipping and logistics industry, our proprietary Shuntware® platform is an industry-leading YMS solution that enhances your security and profitability. Through your Shuntware interface, you can automatically dispatch drivers, giving your operations the assistance it needs immediately. We also have the ability to integrate with any YMS and WMS systems you may already have in place. 

Additionally, NSSL’s peak-season support also lets you scale up your operations as you need, with shuttling services that allow your most profitable seasons to continue without interruption. 

If you’d like more information about how our shunting and shuttling services can inject more profitability into your bottom line, contact us today for a free yard assessment. We take an approach to total yard management that extends beyond just implementing software or renting out trucks. We take great pride in working alongside your team to overhaul your operation with best-of-breed drivers, systems, and services.

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