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November 2, 2023
Shippers demand tech, Amazon Freight delivers
Technology is important to shippers. It’s something they seek from their freight providers so they can move their shipments safely and reliably. In fact, according to research from B2B International, nearly half (45%) of shippers say it is so imperative that they would switch to a new provider who is offering a more innovative transportation solution .

One place Amazon is deploying new technology for its customers is in its truck yards. These are the places where trucks and trailers come and go, and they are filled with constant movements, people, and equipment. With such activity, there are safety risks for drivers and employees to consider, but there are also delays that result from the congestion.

At Amazon and Amazon Freight, we understand this and are using cutting-edge technology to help keep our yards flowing smoothly. The goal is to keep all the people within them safe and our customers’ shipments getting to where they need to be on time.

Here’s a high-level look at what happens at an Amazon yard when a customer’s inbound shipment comes to our fulfillment center and how we take care of it.

At the gate
The objective of the experience is to keep it as automated as possible and all drivers and Amazon associates clear of potential hazards. That starts right at the gate, the secured point of ingress and egress to the facility’s yard.

When the driver approaches the gate, Amazon technology kicks into action. The system uses license plate scanners to collect information about the trailer. It asks and answers three simple questions: What is at the gate? Why is it there? Where does it need to go? For instance, it could be a trailer of bulky home goods from Utopia Deals that needs to be unloaded immediately at the first loading dock in the yard.

Large monitors outside the truck’s window show the driver where to go, such as which dock door to back into. At around the same time, instructions are provided on the driver’s Relay mobile app, and the gate automatically opens. During this brief but important interaction, there is no need for a gate associate to engage with the driver or vehicle physically. That minimizes the chance for accidents.

In the yard
In the meantime, notifications go out to onsite associates that the truck is close by so they can get ready for the driver’s arrival at the dock. The team is provided other information, such as if a trailer needs a seal cut, so personnel can quickly respond and be ready.

In some instances, during the whole process, the driver doesn’t even need to leave the cab of the truck. One way that’s done is with more paperless processes, including electronic proofs of delivery and bills of lading. There is no need for the driver to go in and have dock associates hand-sign paperwork.

“What we’re trying to ultimately achieve is a frictionless experience that keeps trailers moving and drivers and associates away from potential hazards,” says Derek Gourlay, a senior manager on the Amazon Transportation Services Products and Technology team who helped create the technology. “Plus, we know the last thing a driver wants to do is to spend more time in a yard when they can be on the road.”

At the exit gate, when the driver pulls up, the scanners will detect the equipment and automatically let it out. If it’s a full trailer with customer packages, RFID readers and smart trailer sensors validate that the driver has the right load, that their bill of lading is correct, and the trailer is ready to depart.

An even more automated future for shippers
This is a continuous process as we make improvements for shippers. Amazon is analyzing the data from the millions of coming and goings at its yards each year to continue to enhance the process. This includes collecting feedback from drivers in Relay because their input is critical to making improvements.

If you’d like to see how your shipments to Amazon can flow through our yards safely and smoothly, create an account with Amazon Freight to start shipping immediately.

If you’re a carrier interested in hauling loads with Amazon Relay, get started here.
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