Freymiller Trucking Oklahoma City, OK
Refrigerated truckload carrier Dennis Freymiller, vice president
Detention time has long been an issue for truckload fleets, especially if like Freymiller you're running expensive refrigerated trailers that need to be kept full and rolling as much as possible. With the revised hours-of-service rules putting new productivity penalties on waiting time, the TL carrier decided to address the detention issue head on.
The most obvious answer was to enforce detention charges already in its rate structure. Shippers understood the cost pressure created by HOS revision to keep drivers on the road and out of the loading docks, and for the first time seemed willing to accept those charges.
There was one catch, says Dennis Freymiller: “They wanted to know how we intended to monitor and manage it.” With 200 tractors, that wasn't an easy task, especially if the fleet had to rely on busy dispatchers and their drivers to manually record arrival and departure times and then pass that information on to both the billing department and shipper in a timely fashion.
Freymiller has used McLeod Software's Loadmaster fleet management system for some time, integrating it with Aether Systems' MobileMax wireless communications system. Anticipating operational changes with the HOS revision, McLeod developed a detention module for Loadmaster late last year, and Freymiller added it to his system on Jan. 1.
When drivers now arrive at either a pickup or drop-off point, they send a pre-formatted “bump dock call” on the truck's MobileMax unit that includes the truck's exact location as determined by the system's GPS receiver. From that point, the detention process is automated.
“If an hour goes by without the truck moving, the system sends an alert to the customer telling them that detention time charges will start in another hour and what those charges will be,” says Freymiller. “The alert can be sent by email or fax depending on what the customer wants, and a copy goes to the dispatcher as well.”
If a second hour passes without movement, the system sends a message informing the customer that detention charges have started. Once the driver leaves and sends a depart message, Loadmaster automatically calculates the detention charges and sends them to the customer via email or fax.
“If a driver forgets to send the departure message, the system uses GPS to periodically check the truck's location, and if the truck has moved, it automatically closes that detention monitor,” says Freymiller.
“We're getting detention warnings through the system almost every day, but only a small number have actually gone into the billing stage,” says Freymiller. “Just having shippers know that we have an automated monitor in place seems to be helping us cut down waiting times, which is really the whole purpose. In fact, a number of our shippers have actually been working with their receivers to make sure we're also unloaded in a timely fashion.”