Published July 24, 2023

What is Dock Scheduling Software?

How efficient is your shipping dock? And if the saying “there’s always room for improvement” is true, what can you improve to be more efficient?

Your loading dock is an essential part of your logistics network. Think of it as the heart of your operation, the point where all that’s vital comes in or goes out. Because it is so vital, an inefficient shipping dock can also have serious consequences.

You can improve the efficiency of your dock, improve service to your customers, become a shipper of choice, and cut back on costs like detention—even at a time when the industry is facing a significant labor shortage.

How Dock Scheduling Software Can Help You

Dock scheduling software can increase operational efficiency by improving labor planning, reducing dwell time, reducing detention fees, and eliminating phone calls and emails.

An easy-to-use dock scheduling tool allows carriers to book appointments online and provide the necessary data for your facility to be prepared for loading and unloading. Some estimates say it can increase loading and unloading performance by 30%. This eliminates the wasted time of email exchanges, answering calls for rescheduling or keeping various spreadsheets updated.

How else can Dock Scheduling Software benefit you? Let’s look at a few examples:

Reduced Labor Costs: At a time when companies are competing to find and retain good workers—and spending more time and money to make that happen—dock scheduling software can automate and simplify the process of scheduling appointments, leaving those hard-won employees available for other tasks.

You won’t need to have someone on hand to deal with the time-consuming flow of information between warehouses and carriers. Instead, by having carriers book appointments online, you’ll have a seamless system where appointments and confirmations are made without phone calls or emails.

Streamlining this process means reducing administrative overhead and allowing management to allocate resources based on demand and real-time dock activities.

Lower Freight Costs: How often are you paying detention charges? Many carriers have a baseline of about two hours of “free time.” Whether you’re loading or unloading, anything over the free time limit is extra and classified as an accessorial (a.k.a. detention). And detention fees can now approach $100 per hour, depending on the carrier and shipment type.

Dock scheduling software can help mitigate detention fees. By capturing in and out times for carriers, you can rely on a digital system of record and audit logs instead of on handwritten notes on the BOL.

Combining this with an easy-to-use system and communication process between carriers and facilities makes a significant impact. The results are usually a significant reduction in dwell time at facilities. And less dwell time means satisfied drivers with fewer detention fees.

If your facility is racking up regular detention fees, you’re likely damaging your reputation as a shipper of choice. Many carriers will choose shipments based on the pickup and delivery facilities. Specifically avoiding facilities with long dwell times, poor service, and consistently incurring detention charges. This reduces the available capacity for transportation teams. And when carriers do accept, they likely increase their transportation rates to account for the anticipated delays. Reputation can have a tangible impact on the bottom line.

Better Visibility: Dock scheduling software brings increased visibility into warehouse operations, and this insight allows for better planning and decision-making.

For example, dock scheduling can help provide real-time updates from the warehouse teams on arrival times, dock activity, and loading status. This tracking helps the warehouse plan its labor and adjust resource allocations to fit the current needs. Improving visibility helps reduce bottlenecks, keep the team productive, and proactively manage issues and exceptions.

Plus the ability to generate reports and KPI tracking make dock scheduling software a game changer for facilities. Often facility managers lack visibility of performance data which makes it hard to manage. The job gets easier when managers can track in and out times, measure on-time performance, see cancellation rates, and calculate dwell time. It’s even better when the software provides scorecards and reports directly, so you don’t need analysts or IT to get to the data.

But what about carriers? The above addresses the benefits to warehouses, but carriers could also benefit from the software.

How Dock Scheduling Software Can Benefit Carriers

Dock scheduling software isn’t just for shippers. Carriers are more likely to consider a company a shipper of choice if it utilizes dock scheduling software.

Everything in One Place: Imagine a carrier trying to keep track of the drivers’ pick up schedules using a spreadsheet—or maybe you shouldn’t have to imagine it. Excel or Google Sheets have their place, but this isn’t it.

Instead, dock scheduling software provides carriers with a centralized platform to manage appointments and dock activities. Being able to view and manage their entire appointment schedule ensures efficient planning and allocation of all resources, human and otherwise. Additionally, the software eliminates the need for multiple communication channels, keeping everything quick and convenient. No more of the back and forth of phone calls or emails, just a simplified process that enables carriers to submit appointment requests and receive confirmations.

This centralized approach saves carriers time, reduces errors, and streamlines their overall appointment management process.

It’s Easier for Drivers: Time is money, right? Then ensuring your drivers have all the information they need to complete a successful pickup or delivery is cost-saving.

Using scheduling software increases convenience and leads to smoother operations for drivers. They can access their assigned appointments, review essential details, and in some cases, receive notifications of updates in real-time through web-based or mobile applications.

This means drivers can plan their routes more efficiently, ensuring on-time arrivals and reducing wait times at the dock.

More Convenient: Finally, scheduling software simplifies the entire logistics process for carriers, making it more convenient and efficient. It reduces administrative burdens, minimizes paperwork, and streamlines communication with warehouses. With user-friendly interfaces and intuitive features, the software makes it easier for carriers to manage their appointments and dock activities, enhancing operational efficiency and customer service.

How Dock Scheduling Can Improve Your Operations

Dock scheduling software brings a range of benefits to both warehouses and carriers. From cost savings and improved labor management for warehouses to enhanced convenience and efficiency for carriers, adopting this technology can significantly optimize logistics operations, streamline processes, and deliver a competitive edge in the fast-paced world of supply chain management.

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