I saw a news report the other day that said truck driving is the easiest, most available type of job you can get today—and the least attractive job there is. Detention is one big reason. Shippers and receivers know already that detention at their facilities impact a driver’s Hours of Service, but they may not know how to correct it. I’ve done more work recently with companies to assess dock congestion, obtain transportation tools to support a solution, and turn shippers into the kind that carriers want to work with. Here’s how we collaborated with one customer on a project like this.
A dock congestion assessment had been proposed for this particular shipper as part of an outsourcing engagement. The assessment answers questions like these:
- How many carriers come to the dock every day?
- What are the parameters and limitations of what is being done at the dock today?
- How quickly are trucks loaded and unloaded?
The assessment showed challenges that were having a direct impact on the shipper’s total landed cost of product. It revealed that most of the company’s 6 dock doors were tied up with drop trailers, leaving only a few doors open for the 28 carriers that arrived every day. The company controls only 30 percent of the freight, with the rest being vendor-routed without standardized delivery practices. Carriers arrive on a first come, first served basis to be unloaded. Employees work overtime and on Saturdays to unload trucks. Some unlucky carriers wait for five hours before they are turned away and told to return the following day. Overtime and detention costs were significant.
We reduced the number of carriers from 28 to 7 to make the dock less congested. Then, we implemented our Yard and Dock Management tool. The tool gives carrier processes and technology to set their own delivery appointments during a specific window of time, eliminating most of the detention. Much of the product that formerly loaded into drop trailers was moved offsite to a crossdock to free up 2 to 3 dock doors, and freight is swept from the dock several times a day and staged for customer deliveries. Live loading and stronger dock management practices have reduced overtime for employees and overall dock management costs, and are more respectful of the carrier’s time, providing more efficient use of their Hours of Service.
This shipper is ahead of the curve in making its freight more attractive to carriers. This is a trend you can expect to continue for the foreseeable future as capacity shrinks. As more shippers vie for less equipment, carriers can be choosier about who they will work with. When carriers can choose between two shippers who pay the same rate—one who makes them wait for hours to unload and one who unloads them within 30 minutes of arrival—they will choose the more efficient shipper every time.
Brian Tonn is an Executive Director, Global Sales for C.H. Robinson where he is responsible for optimizing C.H. Robinson’s largest clients’ global supply chains and providing world-class business intelligence. He has been with C.H. Robinson for 13 years and primarily focusing on supporting consumer products, specialty retailers, utilities and the automotive industries — Brian brings best practices from around the globe and applies them to each client relationships.