In today’s tight trucking market, shippers are competing more and more for carrier capacity. To stay competitive, shippers need a best-in-class transportation management process that features dock appointment scheduling. Extended waiting times for pick-up and delivery is something fewer carriers are willing to accept, or when they do accept these extended times, their rate may be influenced by the expected wait. Another way capacity can be impacted for a shipper with poor dock management, is where carriers are offered the similar rates from two different shippers, carriers will pick the shipper where the least amount of time is wasted getting loaded or unloaded.
Talking to shippers and their carriers across various industries, often the root cause of problems such as long waiting hours, seems to be a lack of communication between the involved parties. Today, communication between shippers and carriers still is often one-way and focused on solving the shippers’ problems with little regard for the carrier. Poor one-way communication in dock scheduling leads to unrealistic appointments, often resulting in putting operations in a “firefighting” mode; reacting to issues leads to multiple phone calls and without an understanding of the root cause of the problem. The symptoms are often visible with lines of trucks waiting to get loaded or unloaded. Detention charges and disputes in the invoicing process at the backend are some of the additional consequences. For a carrier, it is essential to be able to rely on the shipper’s ability to shorten loading/unloading processes and to be back on the road as fast as possible.
Unlike the traditional one way dock scheduling approach of just enforcing fixed loading and unloading slots, modern and best-in-class dock scheduling solutions add the following advantages:
- Decrease administrational efforts for both shipper and carrier;
- Establish efficient mutual communication channels;
- Increase planning accuracy and resource efficiency;
- Make processes more flexible;
- Can manage business related constraints.
It is common for projects to see a 20% improvement of truck turnaround times. Being able to apply tactical changes within clearly defined and communicated schedules is key to gain full visibility on loading and unloading. A dock scheduling system will allow for proactive handling of deviations from the day-to-day operations that may be caused by unexpected circumstances.
The realized benefits are:
- Faster truck turnaround time (20% and more);
- Avoided detention charges and freight auditing issues at the back end;
- Improved efficiency of available loading capacity;
- Increased loading/unloading productivity;
- More efficient resource and staff planning along with safer working conditions.
In the end, it all comes down to the degree of connection between shipper and carrier. Dock scheduling systems that fully integrate shippers’ requirements and carriers’ capabilities as well as real life challenges will deliver the highest benefits for both shippers and carriers.
Florian Dussler is responsible for the US business of TRANSPOREON GROUP as CEO Americas, based in Philadelphia. Florian has an extensive background in Transportation Procurement, Operational Improvement and Change Management. He holds a Master of Science degree in Information Management from Stuttgart Media University, Germany.