There are things truckers, shippers and receivers can do to ease the problem of long wait times at the loading and unloading dock, says a study recently completed for the Truckload Carriers Assn..
The study, "Just in Time to Wait: An Examination of Best Practices for Streamlining Loading/Unloading Functions," was conducted by Mercer Management Consulting in association with March USA and the law firm of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light & Hanson.
Mercer conducted in-depth interviews with 27 shippers and receivers as well as a number of drivers, while the law firm reviewed more than 100 carrier contracts to identify best-practice contract clauses for mitigating waiting time.
The survey reveals several possible paths for smoothing out the flow of freight:
· Motor carriers taking more control of their own destiny by management their customers more aggressively. Carriers must be willing to walk away from no-win freight. At the same time, they must work closely with shippers and receivers to identify and address problems.
· Unbundling the cost of delivery to reveal specific problem areas as well as indicating where incentives or penalties could be applied to improve efficiency and reduce delays.
· Outsourcing selected activities or entire spotting and unloading functions.
· Negotiating contract terms more effectively to induce changes in shipper/receiver behavior and motivate practices that reduce delays. Contracts should be clear about the responsibilities of the different parties, for example unloading. They also should specify penalties and incentives based on specific results, such as specified turnaround times.
· Using Information system and Internet technology to help streamline and improve communications.
TCA's "Improving Efficiency at the Docks" Management Panel (also know as the "Just in Time to Wait" Panel) released the results the study. The panel is made up of more than 20 large national shippers and receivers, in addition to TCA's truckload member carriers. Far from engaging in finger-pointing as to why motor-carrier equipment is often tied up at loading and unloading docks, the members of the Panel are generally agreed that problems exist, according to TCA officials, and are working on solutions.
The study was funded by Qualcomm, Transportal Network, and Volvo Trucks North America. You can download a copy of the study from www.truckload.org.
Truck manufacturers are moving to a business model that centers on maximized product uptime, or repairing equipment before it ever breaks down. Commentary by Aftermarket Contributing Editor Denise Rondini.