BAR CODE TRACKING CASE STUDY - McCORMICK PLACE MARSHALING YARDS
How do you keep track of hundreds of tractors and trailers entering and leaving an area the size of 10 football fields? How do you ensure that their contents remain secure. Most importantly, how do you make sure that each of those trailers is charged for the time spent in the yard?
After too many years of wildly inaccurate paper and pencil counts, McCormick Place decided to automate the tracking of the numerous trucks making deliveries to and pick-ups from one of the world's largest exhibition center.
The obstacles we faced included everything from sun glare on the displays in the gatehouse to gate equipment so old that schematics were no longer available.
Our account manager spent two weeks on-site observing operations from the gatehouse and accompanying yard personnel on their daily rounds. We determined that vehicle tracking had been lax for so long that yard staff felt that way of doing business was normal. Also, the equipment used for regulating traffic was very old and malfunctioned constantly.
Digitrac laid out a six month plan to introduce procedural changes and equipment upgrades gradually so that staff at the yards would not feel overwhelmed or intimidated. The first step was to provide the gatehouse with bar coded, weatherproof, 8 inch X 6 inch vinyl labels that were affixed to each trailer entering the yard and a wireless scanner to collect the label data. At the same time, we introduced a simple database in the yard office that allowed the gatehouse data to be stored along with data gathered with a handheld terminal when inventorying trailers in the yard. Most important, we integrated a device with the solution in the gatehouse that allowed the entry gate to open only when the label data had been properly entered.
Over the ensuing months, we introduced additional database refinements and hardware that made trailer data capture easier and much more complete. Among the upgrades made was installing devices at yard entry and exit points that sensed the presence of a trailer so that the gates could not be opened unless the trailer information was collected. Touch screen monitors were installed in the gatehouse along with cameras that made dealing with dozens of vehicles an hour more manageable.