Gaining Control: Why European Time Slot Management Makes Sense in the United States

Inefficiencies at the dock can cause long lines of trucks outside a warehouse, congestion on access roads, delayed deliveries, and long driver wait times, all with the potential of accruing steep detention fees. European logistics managers deal with these inefficiencies—resulting from space constraints and too few docks for trucks—on a regular basis.

Typical European shipper locations tend to be much smaller than their counterparts in the United States. With an average of only two to three docks and room for up to four waiting trucks, additional incoming trucks must wait in line on the road. As facility yards are much smaller in Europe, shippers need to be more diligent with yard turnaround. This practice is less common in the United States since yards tend to be larger and can accommodate drop trailers that can sit until they are ready to be unloaded.

As a result, it is more common for European carriers to book deliveries or pickups using dock scheduling and time slot management tools, which speed turnaround times so trucks are in and out of facility areas quickly. This is one of the reasons some of the most advanced time slot management systems in the world were conceived in Europe to help shippers gain control of their docks.

Carriers need to keep their wheels rolling to make money. When the wheels stop, so does the revenue. If a carrier spends three hours at a dock, the carrier loses those hours of revenue. Every bit of waiting time saved—even 15 minutes per load—can make a huge impact over the course of hundreds of shipments. Dock scheduling allows carriers to more efficiently utilize their mandated 14 hours of on-duty time (per Hours of Service regulations) instead of waiting to unload their truck.

Making the Most of Driver Hours

Much like current domestic conditions, in Europe there are not enough trucks and drivers to fulfill the ever-growing demand for transportation, causing delays in deliveries and increases in rates. Now that the ELD mandate and Hours of Service rules are in full effect in the United States, driver availability is even more restricted, compounding the carrier capacity problem. Efficient dock scheduling can reduce wait times by up to 40 percent in the most dramatic instances, meaning that shippers utilizing these systems can give more than five driver hours per day back to the market, which only helps to alleviate current capacity issues.

There are dock scheduling solutions on the market today that allow carriers to schedule their live loads and give both carriers and shippers visibility into the time slots. This collaborative approach allows for better planning on both sides to maximize around-the-clock shipping—carriers can book slots themselves and send drivers only when needed, and shippers can better plan their resources and use gaps in the schedule to maximize time on site for drop-and-hook programs. Best-in-class systems can also integrate with existing TMS, YMS, or WMS systems to provide greater on-site visibility.

Dock scheduling has been especially useful in the European chemical industry and when moving hazardous materials. Sophisticated systems can decipher complex loading logic and material dependencies to automatically schedule loads in the right order to stay within health and safety regulations. For warehouse and terminal service operators responsible for intermediate storage of chemical products who do not typically generate load tenders, dock scheduling systems can provide much-needed visibility and control over truck arrival times.

Though the average size of U.S. yards is larger and they typically employ a higher number of docks, it doesn’t mean a dock scheduling system doesn’t make sense here. As demand continues to grow for certain industries, manufacturing production increases and puts more trucks on the road, creating a greater need for tools to effectively manage docks and yards and help alleviate capacity issues. Dock scheduling is an additional way for shippers to gain supply chain efficiencies and help their carriers in the process.

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