Detention has been in the news lately with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General releasing a report that delays in loading and unloading trucks are not only costing the industry $1 billion a year, but also increasing the risk of crashes.
We’ve all heard stories of truckers sitting waiting to load or unload, watching their Hours of Service getting eaten into which may cause them to rush to get to their next delivery or rest area before they are out of legal driving hours.
While everyone is aware of the problem, other than detention pay not much has been proposed in the way of a solution. I think the solution is pretty basic. It all boils down to better communication. There seems to be a communication gap between the supply chain folks, the operational folks and the people in the accounting department who are paying the detention fees.
The communication has to involve all parties including carriers, shippers and customers. Driver arrival instructions along with delivery and receiving hours need to be clearly communicated. In addition, everyone needs to keep in mind the driver’s time constraints especially with the ELD mandate.
Companies are paying detention fees but are not bothering to look into the details of those fees and sharing what they are finding. If they made detention and appointment scheduling one of their Key Performance Indicators (KPI) they would then have to review what their operation is doing in terms of quickly getting drivers in and out during the loading and unloading process.
Reviewing the detention KPI on a monthly basis would make it clear how many times the company is successful in getting the driver in and out on time and where they are falling short. Then they could dive into the details on those instances when detention exceeded the limit they had set. This would allow them to adjust schedules or change procedures as needed.
This will not only help them improve their bottom line, but also ensure that they are seen as a driver-friendly business.
Brokers are dropping companies they do not perceive as driver-friendly, and detention time is one of the factors they use to make that determination. With current freight constraints, if a broker has to choose between someone who is going to get the trucks in and out quickly and someone who isn’t, it is easy to see who they will choose.
Solving detention problems will result in cost savings, smoother loading and unloading, and happier drivers. That’s a winning combination.