Fortune 500 specialty retailer

By Sid Green   March 29, 2020  

PNL Consulting – EXOTRAC Real Time YMS
Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer
White Paper
EXOTRAC RealTime Yard Management System “Game
Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer

“Understanding how a best in class Yard Management System provided a major retail chain a leading edge competitive advantage by achieving operational excellence within their supply chain”

Table of Contents

  1. Solution Overview – Supply Chain Impact delivered by Exotrac’s Real Time

Yard Management System

  1. The Exotrac Team – Solution Process – Implementation of a feature rich,

game changing solution

  1. Implementation Approach – Three Step Process ensures high level


  1. Exotrac’s Solution Creates Real Time Data Visibility Seamlessly Connecting

the TMS and WMS

  1. Key Yard Management Functions Optimized Using the Exotrac’s YMS
  1. Improved Supply Chain Efficiency – Exotrac Significantly Improved

Efficiency and Reduced Overall Costs

The Exotrac team was engaged by the senior management of a FORTUNE 500 Specialty

Retailer to provide a solution that would bridge the gap within their supply chain created by their manualyard management system. Their former system created a void in the visibility of data flowing between the Transportation Management System (TMS) and the Warehouse Management System (WMS). Absent was an effective conduit to manage the activity and data transfer between these two integral systems beyond the physical plant of the distribution center.

This void was creating excess cost and supply chain inefficiency that adversely affected their customers and ultimately their bottom line. The specialty retailer’s team required a solution that would support their corporate goal of continuous improvement with a focus on achieving supply chain operational excellence.

Exotrac provided the solution

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

The Exotrac Team – Solution Process

The Exotrac team implemented a feature rich, gameDchanging solution that provided each of the nine (9) specialty retailer’s distribution centers an automated real time yard management system improving efficiency, cost control and customer service. The Exotrac team employed many of the key features and benefits designed into the Yardtrac Real Time Yard Management System (YMS), as well as engineered customized solutions to interface with the WMS and TMS already in operation. The specialty retailer’s team expressed their satisfaction with the Exotrac solution by stating,

“Our experience with the Exotrac team was excellent and very collaborative.

The solution they provided gave us visibility to all aspects of our supply chain,

improving the overall supply chain effectiveness. They made us feel like we

were their only customer ”

The Exotrac Team answers the question: “What’s Happening Now?” A The Exotrac team began their engagement by developing a comprehensive understanding of the current manual paper driven system. Their approach was to learn and analyze the current process targeting those areas of greatest inefficiency for improvement with the Exotrac Solution. Exotrac does not simply emulate the process they improve it through reengineering. Thus, understanding the “local” terminologyand process helps the Exotrac team streamline the training process and overall installation timeline by retaining as many points of familiarity as possible.

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System The objective of this white paper is to provide a comprehensive examination of the supply chain impact delivered by the Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System (YMS) to one of their valued customers a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer. 

The specialty retailer’s supply chain focus was the reduction of cycle time, improved time to market and reduced overall operating costs. A critical element necessary to achieve these goals was complete data visibility throughout the chain. The specialty retailer’s management team realized that increasing accountability in their yard operation required the implementation of a new approach with real time data visibility. Out stocks, lost containers in the yard, demurrage fees, security of the property (foreign trailers were being dropped on their property without approval), inability to prioritize loads, lost labor productivity and a host of other issues were eventuating because the management team lacked the visibility and predictability of the data real time.

This is a common occurrence in distribution. Significant IT and infrastructure capital expenditures are made to enhance the WMS and TMS capabilities, but missing is the key element between the two: an effective real time yard management system. The need to maximize inventory control and reduce cycle times for the specialty retailer required greater data visibility at every point within their supply chain. The solution required the yard operation to become the conduit through which the WMS and TMS are connected, thereby enhancing their supply chain effectiveness. The Exotrac system provided this control, as we reveal through this document.

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

Implementation Approach – Three Step Process Ensures HighALevel Execution

Step 1:

As part of preparation for installation, the specialty retailer’s management team was given an operational task list to complete, such as labeling of containers upon arrival. This task list encompassed all activity then being performed within the yard.

Step 2:

Subsequently, Exotrac engineers configured the ‘mapping’ to accumulate the information required for the web portal setup as dictated by the specialty retailer’s operation. For instance, pertinent information about loads, carriers, required for Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) and installation security. Tests were completed to validate that all functions worked correctly.

Step 3:The Exotrac Team arrived at the Distribution Facility to perform on site execution of Exotrac’s software system and activate all the handheld units to “go live”. They conducted classroom, hands on and on the job training sessions to ensure that all users had a firm grasp of both the overall process and their specific task.

The Exotrac team ensured that the local staff realized optimization of their processes, reviewing step by step the intricate tasks needed to facilitate operational excellence. All open issues were concluded, as the operation kept moving.

Exotrac system architecture requires little, if any, IT resources from the enterprise. The flexibility gained from Exotrac’s “cloud” hosted solution, keeps operations independent from enterprise IT, which expedites both the installation process and operations in general.

All handheld devices run on mobile data networks, not enterprise assets, communicating securely through fast web service protocols. Exotrac successfully mitigates the risk of delayed installation due to enterprise IT involvement.


EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer

Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

Exotrac’s Solution Creates RealATime Data Visibility, Seamlessly Connecting the TMS and WMS

Comprehensive information is uploaded from the carriers and container drayage companies into the Exotrac system. All key information about a container or trailer is present in the Exotrac database prior to the unit arriving at the distribution facility. The data, including appointed arrival time, is now visible to the entire team allowing them to plan and prioritize the unit upon arrival. They know what is in the container, the container number, and who is moving it – whether it is a drayage company, LTL or TL carrier, parcel, 3PL or any other type of commercial carrier.

The Exotrac system creates an interface with all carrier partners. Each unit inbound to the facility is labeled using a weather resistant, durable barcode with a unique ID consisting of the SCAC (Standard Carrier Alpha Code) and trailer number. Through this process, Exotrac maintains a history for every unit coming into or leaving the distribution facility.

The specialty retailer required certain information about the unit to be captured upon arrival. The android tablet allows the operator to capture the carrier name and trailer number, load type, load status, driver and tractor information, plus complete an eight (8) point inspection which is driven by the system and captured in real time. The tablet is capable of taking pictures to document issues with the unit and automatically communicate back to the carrier, supporting the claims process.

All data is visible in real time for the YMS, WMS and TMS. The interoperability features engineered into the Exotrac YMS allow the system to optimize pre determined logic to speed the unit through the various processing stages, whether they are moving direct to door or staging within the yard for later processing. The ability to prioritize for expeditious processing enhances the management team’s ability to maintain fluidity within the supply chain, creating efficiency and the attendant cost reductions.


EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer

Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

Key Yard Management Functions Optimized using Exotrac’s YMS

  • Scheduling of inbound units (containers, trailers, parcel and LTL) based upon the

specialty retailer’s priorities. Exotrac provides the ability to optimize a focal point to command and control the yard functions. Visibility of all trailers and knowing where they are, what is on them, status and load type allows the distribution management team to plan effectively.

  • The management of the security gate, allowing quick identification and accurate processing of inbound loads. The android allows the operator to capture key data, much of which is accessed automatically from the database. When exceptions are noted, the operator can use the tablet’s picture capability to upload visual documentation regarding trailer condition or exceptions.
  • ecause of the interoperability between the Exotrac system and both the TMS and WMS, all constituent groups obtain real time visibility of trailer contents supporting prioritization of the unit within the distribution center environment. ASN (advance shipping notification) or PO (purchase order) information provides total visibility of trailers and their contents.
  • The specialty retailer’s management team provided Exotrac user defined prioritization rules that allows fluid movement of each unit within the yard and between doors with pre assigned movements. The key attribute supporting efficient yard movement and labor optimization is real time data visibility.
  • Exotrac allows the specialty retailer’s team to manage shipping, empowering the management team to visualize late arriving product and understand the potential effect on service to their customers. Follow up with carriers through the real time data (email, text, smartphone, android tablet, etc.) aspects of Exotrac’s system creates a positive impact driving on time arrival of critical products to their stores.

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

  • Exotrac increases the effectiveness, timeliness and efficiency of Communication. Email notification for empty containers, out of service trailers, arrivals of hot freight, reduces the emails and phone calls that have to be made manually, while simultaneously creating a centralized ‘paper trail’ with full searchable history. In addition, Dispatch Request between the dock and yard spotters reduces or eliminates radio traffic, due to succinct communication no doubt of which trailer, from where to where, no waiting for a response from a radio, no mix up between similar sounding numbers and names. It is all in plain text in the driver’s handheld.
  • All the comprehensive real time trailer pool and inventory logistics data captured by handheld devices is fed into Exotrac’s user friendly web interface. Exotrac distinguishes its dashboard reporting metrics, offering flexible Transparencyconfigured to the specialty retailer’s specific interfaces, e.g. role specific menus or general data entry All information is accessible from anywhere, and anyone who has permission can access any of it. Managers appreciate the flexibility to access information from anywhere. Executives appreciate the empowering aspects for their managers.
  • Exotrac provides critical management reports to the specialty retailer’s management team including but not limited to the following: Arrival and Departure, Trailer Pool (Carriers and other DCs can also view trailer pool information), Trailer Movement and Load Status (arrivals, relocation, departures, priority, critical, hot freight, damaged

trailer, tampered seal, container exact status and location change, historical tracking data on demand, overall container and trailer placement (pallet and SKU level).

  • The Exotrac system establishes Accountability by providing a completed timeline of all activity from arrival, yard moves into and out of doors; SAFETY is enhanced because all actions are logged with corresponding employee information, so when they request a trailer to be moved out of a door they are certifying that it is “Safe to Move” (the team must check the box “Safe to Move” within the application).

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System 

The Exotrac team has found that this element reduces incidents of run outs and forklifts in trailers. The system improves the management of door turns and distribution center throughput by identifying and prioritizing trailers and containers within the yard. The system provides fully automated command of Yard Jockey/Spotter utilization with asset protection in assigned container/inventory space and equipment utilization accountability.

  • The system is a verified measurement tool for managing vendor compliance accomplished through the automation of physical yard checks and simplified “door” plan management, in gate and out gate, door cycle, transit between facilities, all in real time. The specialty retailer’s management reviews the exception reporting and, is in command of historic knowledge regarding the vendor’s performance relative to their expectations. The distribution team provides the carriers with a detailed account of their on time status, thereby assisting the carriers in their efforts to provide improved service.

Exotrac Improved Supply Chain Efficiency and Significantly Reduced Overall


In addition to obtaining their ROI within six months of each DC installation without impacting the capital expenditure budget (the contractual relationship with Exotrac is fee based not capital), the specialty retailer obtained greater overall control of the yard operation through the efficiency of the Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System. The system provided a multitude of benefits, allowing the specialty retailer to achieve their corporate goal of continuousDimprovement in key supply chain areas, some of which were unplanned.

EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer


Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

The Exotrac customer realized:

  • etter utilization of yard and distribution center personnel driving down labor expense.
  • Higher inventory fill rates to the specialty retail stores resulting from better optimization of inventory.
  • Increased throughput within the distribution center by pre planning door moves to optimize staffing and proximity.
  • An enhanced ability to cross dock effectively because everyone knows what product is contained in each trailer thereby allowing the application of FIFO (first in first out) rules as well as WMS daily proactive ‘wave’ plans.
  • Reduced overall handling costs because all movements of product into and out of the distribution center optimize efficiency real time.
  • etter yard utilization reducing square footage needed to stage trailers and containers thereby increasing the longevity of the physical plant and yard geography.
  • Improved time to market because inventory planners have visibility to all product within the system allowing a reduction in ‘safety stock’ improving the immediacy of the inventory to the stores.
  • A significant reduction in detention and demurrage fees.
  • Reduced error rates as data is immediately uploaded from the android scan rather than reliance on key entry.
  • Reduced expedited freight expense as carriers are provided critical data related to their on time status resulting in improved onDtime effectiveness.


EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer

Exotrac Real Time Yard Management System

  • Greater flexibility to adjust to changes in volume, seasonality and customer
  • A yard operation that performed as a conduit effectively connecting the YMS with the TMS and WMS eliminating the data visibility void in the supply chain.
  • Reductions in overall transportation spend because carriers are simply more effective managing their business when their customer is more effective managing their EXOTRAC Real Time Yard Management System “Game Changing” Solution for a FORTUNE 500 Specialty Retailer