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OMI Automates Yard Management

New yard management software takes advantage of RFID to eliminate gate entry personnel and speed up deliveries.
Jun 04, 2002June 4, 2002 -- OMI International, a Dallas-based provider of supply chain management software, has unveiled the latest version of its Mobile Distribution System, an asset and dock management system. The system takes advantage of RFID technology to eliminate gate entry personnel and speed trucks through the pickup and delivery process.

MDS ties into Qualcomm's OmniTRACS global positioning system and receives an alert when a truck gets within 15 miles of the yard. When the driver arrives at the gate, a readers scans an RFID tag mounted on the truck and searches the system to find out which dock door or pad that truck should proceed to. The information is displayed on an LED screen mounted on the guard shack at the gate entrance.

"One of our clients has 80 percent of his trucks coming back with a salvage commodity on them," says Robert Hill, manager of MDS implementations for OMI. "He had trucks backed up down the road during peak periods because the gate guard had to talk to each driver and tell him where to go. Now the system directs the driver automatically to a salvage parking pad and there are no trucks backed up."

The OMI software, which has saved Associated Food Stores hundreds of thousands of dollars, maps a yard and assigns trucks in designated areas a specific status. The system assumes a truck sitting on a salvage pad has pallets or plastic containers that need to be unloaded.

When a dock door opens up, the system automatically assigns that truck to the door. The information is sent to a yard switcher who has an onboard computer. He picks up the trailer and hauls it to the door.

The new version of MDS further optimizes yard management by allowing the yard manager to assign a stacking pad a specific status based on the first unit parked on it.

"We have clients with dozens of different truck and trailer configuration," says OMI's Hill. "If you need Truck B to go to a dock door, but it is parked behind Truck A, which has a different configuration, you have to move Truck A to get Truck B out."

Now, instead of breaking a 500 stacking pad, or waiting area, into 10 50-ft, pads, the system considers it one self-configuring pad. When a truck of a certain type parks on an open pad, the only other trucks assigned to that pad will be ones of the same configuration.

MDS is a stand-alone application, but OMI has worked with WhereNet to provide real-time location data. The company partners with Genesta, a Rockwall, Texas, application and system integrator that specializes in radio frequency technology. Genesta is using RFID tags from Intermec to identify trucks as they enter the yard.

OMI says clients such as Giant Eagle, Safeway (UK), The Kroger Co., and Associated Food Stores realize an average savings per yard ranging from $300,000 to $500,000 per year from the increased efficiencies of OMI's system.
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