Last year, the depot yard industry saw a marked increase in depot services, using the quality and speed of work to differentiate businesses from each other. In five years, depotyard organizations are going to look back on 2016 as a major turning point for the industry, a time when many long-term trends bubbled to the surface.


This year is going to see a continuation of those depot yard trends, with companies scrambling to be the first to understand new technology in a profitable way. To sum up 2016, I predict we’re looking forward to the year of customer satisfaction becoming sustainable competitive advantage.

Here are five Depot yard trends that are going to drive that focus: 


1. Mobile continues to take over

Whether companies are letting techs bring their own phones to the job or are issuing iPads to the whole force, mobile applications are going to continue shaping the market. More and more of the tasks that used to require time on the phone, multiple devices, or hours of paperwork are being managed through mobile apps.

In 2017, we’re going to hit the point where customers are expecting mobile solutions at a bare minimum. Imagine UPS showing up to the door and having you sign a piece of actual paper. In a few years, the idea of a tech needing to call back to the office for support is going to seem just as ludicrous. depot yards have already requested to check-in containers at a push of the button.


2. The internet of things becomes widespread

Nest is making a small fortune off its thermostat that senses when you’re gone, adjusting the temperature to account for your absence. Even that sort of interaction is quickly going to look antiquated and, in 2017, the internet of things (IoT) is going to change the way depot yards are going to operate. Imagine a sensor on a container giving an alert that the heating process is stopped due to a rise in temperature.

The medical devices community has already embraced the IoT, helping to cut costs, increase uptime, and keep people safer. It is expected that the insight that techs have into the systems they repair and maintain is only going to increase, with depot yards receiving more and more information in real-time.


3. Preventative maintenance replaces reactive repair

With the predictive power of connected devices, the depot yard industry is going to start undertaking more and more preventative work. Instead of waiting for a call from a container owner telling you that a container needs maintenance, you’ll be calling them to setup an appointment before the devices fail. At least you will receive a pre-announcement a container is damaged, needs repair and will arrive at the depot yard gate within two days.

More uptime means less time in crisis mode for depot yards and for the companies they serve. That means relationships with those businesses will be built on a stronger foundation, where full-service providers are almost a part of the companies they work with, acting to keep businesses up and running all the time.


4. The value of customer services increases

As we’ll all have a better look into the inner workings of the systems we’re keeping alive, companies will have to differentiate themselves on the quality of their customer service. Already, higher customer satisfaction is linked to higher revenue, but that link is going to become even more important in 2017.

No longer will companies be able to rest on the laurels of uptime, with more depot yards sending out preventative calls, everyone is going to have a better chance to keep things up and running. Now, we’re going to be boasting about how well we interact with clients, how aggressive our SLAs are, and how rarely clients have to actually place a call.


5. More information shared with clients

These insights and drive for increased customer satisfaction are going to lead businesses to share more information. The IoT gives depot yards more data to share and, when done correctly, more ways to make clients feel cared for. By producing reports and providing analysis to customers, depot yards can start to add actual value to their customers’ businesses.

The shape of that information is going to start to reveal itself in 2017. It may be through a series of reports, a real-time dashboard showing usage, or a database of statistics that companies can use to find their own trends.



New technologies force Depot yards to focus more and more on customer satisfaction, and the shift from 2016 to 2017 isn’t going to slow that down. While some Depot yards will go along with the existing trends, others are forging ahead with their own plans, taking leaps most of us won’t consider until 2017 and beyond. There is a wide range of options, so it’s definitely going to be a fun year to follow, and a momentous year for Depot Operations.