Detention time – typically defined as greater than a two-hour wait – affects driver efficiency, shipping capacity, and safety, with a negative financial impact for all stakeholders. According to a survey by data analyst DAT Solutions, nearly 63 percent of drivers spend more than three hours at the shipper’s dock each time they are loading or unloading.
Lengthy loading dock wait times have plagued the trucking industry for years, with serious consequences for drivers and shippers alike. And the problem is widespread.
Significant time-loss affects a driver’s salary
Drivers waste significant time on inflexible appointments and waiting to load and unload. In addition to not being paid for weather delays, time spent sitting in traffic jams or waiting at border crossings, many truck drivers are not compensated for the hours spent waiting to load and unload freight. Consequently, time wasted waiting to load or unload represents lost income – and it’s not pocket change.
According to data in a white paper by J.B. Hunt Transport, of the 660 minutes (11 hours) of available driving time, an average of only 390 minutes (6.5 hours) is actually spent on the road. The Inspector General’s audit report estimated that driver detention is associated with a $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion decrease in annual earnings for U.S. truckers.
This shortfall translates into a loss of income of between $1,281 and $1,534 per driver per year, or 3.0 to 3.6 percent of a driver’s average annual income. Similarly, detention time reduces net income of for-hire motor carriers to the tune of $250.6 million to $320.9 million each year.
Crash rate increases with detention time
A mere 15-minute increase in average dwell time – a combination of detention time plus time spent loading and unloading freight – increases the average expected crash rate by 6.2 percent or the equivalent of one additional crash per 1,000 tractor-trailers or straight trucks on the road.
Detention time increases the risk of these crashes by encroaching on drivers’ available waking hours, contributing to fatigue when they are on the road. According to the most recent data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in 2015, 415,000 crashes occurred involving large trucks.
Indeed, the FMCSA report indicates that detention increases the likelihood of truck crashes involving fatalities or significant injuries. Additionally, the report found that, on average, every 5 percent increase in stops that incur detention time results in a 4.7 percent increase in expected crash rates.
“Shipper of choice” program minimizes wait times
Shippers incur detention charges intended to compensate drivers for undue time spent waiting to unload or load. If shippers are unable to streamline their operations to efficiently manage loading and unloading at their warehouse or distribution center, they can face chargebacks from customers who are unhappy about not receiving merchandise by the agreed-upon delivery date.
In addition to hindering supply chain performance and damaging carrier relationships, long load dock wait times impact labor costs, requiring overtime compensation for employees who must stay late to accommodate delays. Fees typically range from $50 to $100 per hour for any delay longer than two hours.
With the newly instituted ELD rules, a renewed focus on wait times is spurring major carriers and owner-operators alike to drop shippers that habitually impede freight movement with long wait times. In this same spirit, some carriers have launched “shipper of choice” programs to prioritize shippers who minimize wait times for drivers.
Given the freight hauling capacity crunch currently facing the industry due to the one-two punch of driver shortage and rising demand, shippers cannot afford to be blacklisted or they will face a serious challenge to cover their loads.
Online dock appointments
Helpful tactics for improving loading and unloading efficiency, such as implementing drop-and-hook systems and designating “live-load” dock doors are being used as a way to reduce detention time and take control of their inbound and outbound operations. Forward-thinking shippers are using technology to enable shippers, carriers, and consignees to collaboratively schedule dock door appointments online.
By distributing the responsibility of scheduling appointments across all stakeholders, dock appointment scheduling technology provides greater control over freight delivery and allows organizations to proactively minimize wait times. Open communication across the supply chain ensures transparency and visibility and also provides a clear audit trail to enhance compliance tracking, dispute resolution and managing chargebacks.
That way, carriers avoid frustrating detention time and shippers can manage inventory more efficiently, which reduces labor and supply chain costs. With technology-enabled dock appointment scheduling, carriers can recoup their time by minimizing inflexible appointments and reducing dwell time to increase capacity.
A real game-changer
Estimates in the J.B. Hunt paper indicated that, by eliminating just 30 minutes at the shipper and 30 minutes at the receiver, the extra hour a driver could remain on the road each day would be equivalent to 50 miles per day, or 12,500 miles per year (assuming the driver spends 250 days on the road annually). These carrier savings translate to increased supply chain efficiency, a mitigated risk of road accidents, and improved operational performance for shippers.
Shippers can minimize dock wait times for load/unload activities, manage inventory levels, increase warehouse efficiency by reducing peak resource requirements and reduce congestion by limiting idling in the yard while waiting for a dock door to become available. With greater visibility into inbound shipments, dock appointment scheduling can be a real game-changer!