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Paul HowardProduct Marketing Manager, FourKites

The adage “time is money” rings true for most businesses, but it has never been more appreciated and top-of-mind for those in the supply chain industry than it is today. According to DAT Trendlines, rates have risen more than 20%, fuel is 40% higher and spot market loads increased nearly 50% compared to this time last year – with skyrocketing costs and labor shortages, companies cannot afford to waste even a second.

Unfortunately, wasting time is exactly what’s happening. As Business Insider reported, one trucker out of Charleston shared that, “What used to be as fast as 10 to 20 minutes is taking three to four hours now. You can wait for hours on end before they even check you in and get nothing for it.”

The longer a truck sits, the greater the cost. We’ve touched on this in the past, but it’s time to do something about it. Here are six steps you can take to reduce dwell time.

  1. Free your supply chain data to make faster changes. With real-time visibility data shippers can more easily diagnose gaps in their supply chain. Use supply chain insights trapped within your own data to unlock operational excellence.
  2. Create stronger communication with carriers. By implementing a supply chain visibility platform, you can automate notifications and take advantage of integrated features like instant messaging and electronic proof of delivery. Meanwhile, dynamic estimated times of arrival (ETAs) improve appointment times, helping managers know what to do with inventory before it hits the dock.
  3. Gain visibility upstream with multimodal tracking. Many companies wait to manage a shipment until it’s on the roads. By having visibility of your entire supply chain, you can see what’s happening across all modes – ocean, air, rail and more – to proactively manage a shipment, reducing dwell times and shortening order cycles.
  4. Streamline check-in and check-out processes. Manual documentation, multiple checkpoints, and outdated processes slow the flow at your facility. Leveraging electronic documentation, simplified in/out forms, and leaving space for truck movement will get your drivers out the door quicker.
  5. Balance load volumes. There is a strong correlation between overloaded scheduling and increased dwell time. While teams want to do what they can to help carriers with scheduling, they also need to be cognizant of inbound and outbound volumes, truckload and less-than-truckload, and staff scheduling.
  6. Get the right trailers offloaded faster with yard management. Warehouses are also plagued by labor shortages and manual processes. By leveraging the right software solution paired with IoT, you can optimize scheduling, spotter and driver movement, and, ultimately, move trailers in and out faster.

The hidden benefits of reducing dwell time

In addition to eliminating detention costs, reducing dwell time can improve other aspects of your supply chain:

  • Strengthened carrier relationships. Carriers appreciate customers who help keep drivers on the road. 
  • Increased capacity. The less a driver sits the more freight they can move. 
  • Improved operations and employee relations. Removing slow or redundant processes improves morale. Accessorial management becomes the exception rather than the rule and your employees enjoy work more.
  • Being a shipper and location of choice. Word spreads quickly across suppliers, transportation partners, and workers and can lead to lower rates, stronger partnerships, and improved productivity.

Don’t try to boil the ocean

While there are many benefits and many small steps your team can take to make big impacts to dwell times, you don’t need to implement everything at once. In fact, we recommend against it. By taking a crawl, walk, run, and FLY approach we can tackle these together to improve the whole supply chain. We’re ready to help you find the right next step. Find out where your biggest bottlenecks are, and start unloading costs as soon as possible with FourKites.

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