For some time NKG Kala Hamburg, a company in the Neumann Coffee Group, has been using Yard- Manager, a software program for professional yard logistics from MID – Möller industrial services in Hamburg. The aim behind introduction of Yard- Manager was to become constantly aware of the whereabouts of each container on site, and who had made each process move and when. Up to 1,000 TEU – load units – are held in the NKG Kala yard continuously. In addition, up to 300 container movements occur there daily. The company trades as a service provider in the worldwide coffee bean trade, annually handling around 400,000 tons of raw beans.
“The business has grown massively down the years and our volume has increased steeply. It became obvious to us that we needed to digitalize processes,” remembers Christian Timm, Deputy CEO of the raw coffee specialists. The company started out with an introductory version of the software, joining MID programmers in gradually adapting this to NKG Kala requirements. “We now have reliable data and a complete history for every individual container,” adds Tobias Kratzmann, responsible at NKG Kala for IT projects.
The basic version of YardManager offered NKG Kala an overview of the yard and its slots, which are programmed in. This enabled the company to allocate available slots to all containers on arrival. Day and night, yard drivers on duty automatically receive tour instructions on tablets installed in their vehicles. In three shifts, from Monday to Friday, a team of drivers is on the move around the site aboard such special vehicles as reach-stackers and tractors, fetching containers from the slots for unloading, and returning them. Once an order has been met, the system automatically generates an e-mail to the forwarders. They receive the message that the empty box can be collected.
NKG Kala’s yard is divided into various areas. A silo building houses three reception lines that convey the loose produce into various areas. In addition, the company runs a conventional 8,000-square-metre warehouse, in which it stocks and handles coffee in bags. There are seven loading gates. Staff here prepare containers for export. In accordance with customer instructions, the beans are cleaned, weighed, mixed or specially processed, stored and then re-loaded into trucks or containers.
All tours ordered to the various loading and unloading points are displayed by YardManager. An overview shows which orders are active. Every driver in the yard knows at all times what needs to be done. “Everything runs via a program and no longer by radio, telephone or notes. We are relieving our staff and save a lot of time,” says Kratzmann appreciatively. According to Kratzmann, YardManager is simple to operate and self-explanatory. Depending on shift and volume, on average 15 people currently work simultaneously with the application.
Before coffee is stored, the containers are given an arrival inspection. Every load unit delivered by forwarders is first brought to the sampling ramp. The staffer responsible there initially examines the container for signs of external damage, checks the produce, records its condition, and takes a sample. If everything is in order and the customer has released the container, yard drivers are deployed.
All containers are listed by YardManager under consignment numbers. Drivers can collect the data relevant for them and execute the order. If a container stands at the place earmarked for it, the process is completed for the moment and it disappears from the yard driver’s display. Kratzmann: “Previously, countless manually completed lists and numerous document folders were in play – that was anything but convenient. None of us can any longer imagine how this functioned without the tool.”
Via interfaces, YardManager also communicates with NKG Kala’s own logistics system that picks out the data needed for container tracking, for example. Forwarders employed for many years are also linked to YardManager via the logistics system. The coffee bean specialist pays a monthly lump sum for using it. Should a tablet fail to function, then MID immediately ensures its replacement.