Dock Scheduling Dos and Don’ts for Shippers of All Sizes

Dock scheduling technology speeds unload times and returns trucks to the roads quickly.
Dock scheduling problems can lead to severe implications for shipping spend.

As reported by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association Foundation’s “2020 Detention Time Survey,” delays on the dock will amount to a greater risk for detention surcharges.

According to the survey results, “47% of the respondents indicated that they always attempt to receive compensation for detention compared to 52% in 2019, representing a 10% decrease. The remaining 53% vary between usually, occasionally, and never attempting to receive detention time pay. The percentage of those who never attempt to receive compensation has steadily grown from 7% in 2018 to 10% in 2020. The two biggest reasons why members do not make the attempt is either due to the belief that they will not receive it anyway (44%), or because they do not have much waiting time (24%).”

With the chances for more detention time charges growing, shippers need to have a thorough list of dos and don’ts for managing the dock and ensuring the dock schedule flows uninterrupted.

Don’t: Waste Time With Phone Calls and Emails

Manual check calls lead to lost oversight and challenges in keeping your dock scheduling system operational.

Such checks also lead to higher overhead costs and diminish your team’s ability to plan and intervene when the schedule falls out of balance.

Do: Streamline the Dock Scheduling Process With an Integrated Portal

An integrated portal helps shippers strategically provide available appointments and avoid ambiguity when scheduling carrier arrivals. Furthermore, this streamlined process makes it easier to prevent warehouse backlogs and helps teams facilitate cross-docking and other alternate fulfillment models.

More efficient dock management processes using an integrated dock scheduling portal save time and money in both staffing and speed of the unloading/loading processes. Keeping carriers moving through your facilities improves the overall flow of goods across the entire supply chain.

Don’t: Delay Planning Until Trucks Arrive

Waiting until trucks arrive at your facility is the worst possible way to approach dock scheduling. It runs on a “hope-there’s-space” plan, which isn’t a plan at all.

Leaving your dock space subject to the traditional first-come, first-served basis creates bottlenecks which can drive shipping costs higher across both inbound and outbound freight.

Do: Account for Trucks Before They Ever Head to Your Warehouse

Creating a finite dock schedule is critical to reducing the risk of delays and detention charges.
Therefore, it’s important to use a real-time-based dock scheduling platform that accounts for hours of operation, holidays and other schedule variances to manage incoming trucks long before they arrive at the gate.

Don’t: Require Carriers Contact Your Team to Schedule Arrivals

Asking carriers to contact your team before arrival isn’t a bad idea. However, manual status updates will lead to a greater risk for missed communications.
Furthermore, drivers will waste time updating each facility and lose valuable driving hours.

Do: Give Carriers a Means of Self-Scheduling

Rather than relying on a slow, sub-standard communication process, shippers can give carriers the authority to self-schedule their appointments. Advanced dock scheduling software is a powerful piece in the technology suite for retailers and manufacturers.

Self-scheduling eliminates the hassle of manually managing multiple carriers. Connecting the portal to your TMS also helps your team account for changes in the dock schedule to manage put-away, picking and cross-docking processes more effectively.
Knowing which carrier is arriving at which door and when helps align the right warehouse resources and equipment to receive each load. This is especially important, if special handling is required.
This higher level of visibility results in overhead cost savings. It also limits the burden of managing exceptions that occur on the road, such as weather-related delays and avoiding backlogs.

Calculate your potential Saving While Using an enterprise TMS

Create More Value With Integrated Dock Scheduling Features in Your Tech Stack

Integrated dock scheduling is the future of yard and dock management.

There are too many risks for higher freight spend already in the world. Lost time in dock scheduling or management promises to drive up landed freight costs. It’s time to force dock inefficiencies into retreat by leveraging a world-class, high-visibility transportation management solution.

Speak with a MercuryGate expert to get started today

Find out how to integrate dock scheduling capabilities into your transportation management technology.

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