On-line dockhand

Web site gives lowdown on loading docksIf you want to check out the conditions your drivers encounter at shipper/receiver docks, you can now let your fingers do the walking (and clicking). A new Web site - www.dockreport.com - gives fleets access to a window on how their customers are operating their loading docks. The site's success rests on the willingness of trucking companies to share their experiences

Web site gives lowdown on loading docks

If you want to check out the conditions your drivers encounter at shipper/receiver docks, you can now let your fingers do the walking (and clicking). A new Web site - www.dockreport.com - gives fleets access to a window on how their customers are operating their loading docks. The site's success rests on the willingness of trucking companies to share their experiences dealing with docks throughout North America.

Of course, docks that are run inefficiently are a bane to trucking companies and to their drivers. As a graphic on the home page of "The Official Dock Report" fairly screams out, "Time = Money."

Indeed, a lot of time is irretrievably lost every business day at congested, poorly managed docks. A study by the Truckload Carriers Assn. (TCA), which co-created the site with CompuNet Credit Services, estimates that dock inefficiencies swallow $1.5 billion a year in revenue, raising the cost of goods for everybody down the line. TCA also points out that spending insufferable amounts of time at docks also helps drive driver turnover.

The intention of Dock Report is two-fold. On the one hand, the site gives truck fleets a place to post their observations on dock performance and read the postings of other fleets. Secondly, the site can be used by shippers and receivers as a valuable, and inexpensive, self-check on how their docks are being perceived.

The thinking behind the site is more than wishful. Its creators fully realize that fleets can't just tell customers to take a flying leap, say, off their precious docks.

"We recognize that carriers need to protect their business relationships," says CompuNet president Cindy Aldridge. "But we also know that problems cannot be solved unless they are brought to the fore. We believe upper management at shipper and receiver locations will want to know if their docks are considered a 'least favorite' location to serve. After all, they can't correct a problem if they don't know it exists."

TCA reports that over 200 carriers have already reported the dock problems they've run into. In fact, to help build the database, access to the site is being offered free of charge until the end of this year to users who agree to register.

But don't worry. Aldridge points out that firms posting information are not identified on the site. "CompuNet will know the identity of the companies," she explains, "and those who post information will attest to the accuracy of their data. However, the name of the company posting the report will be protected, unless they choose otherwise."

Next year, access will come at a price, but a pretty affordable one given the potential savings. The site will then be available by subscription "for less than $2 a day." Another incentive for building the database is a 50 cents credit being awarded toward a paid subscription for every posting to the site.

The Web site is specifically seeking information on the facilities, paperwork handling, ancillary charges, and our personal favorite, "the atmosphere" drivers encounter at docks.

"Dock Report is a great first step in the effort to find a solution to the dock delays that currently plague our industry," states TCA president Lana Batts.

"Once compiled, this type of data will be extremely valuable to trucking companies," she continues. "It will help with the scheduling of equipment and manpower, assist with setting rates and fees, and help with driver retention because fleets will get their drivers back on the road faster."

For more information on the Dock Report, visit the Web site itself or phone CompuNet at 800-872-3748, ext. 201. Happy docking!

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