12 Detention Time Prevention Strategies for Inbound Freight Management

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Detention time has always been a big problem for shippers and truckers alike. Shippers see an added expense on freight costs, and truckers are forced to replan their entire day. Unfortunately, the rise of hours of service (HOS) regulations and electronic logging devices (ELDs) have forced the issue on truckers. Now, unnecessary delays will have an even more significant impact on trucks or ability to move product and make money, resulting in avoidance of individual shippers, up to and including refusal to deliver freight. Fortunately, shippers that implement and follow detention time prevention strategies for inbound freight management can avoid the issue entirely.

The Problems With Detention Time Continue to Plague the Industry

Detention fees vary by carrier and truckers. Most shippers allow a $60-hour detention charge with a maximum fine of $600. Unfortunately, that is only after the “first two free hours.” Ninety-one percent of shippers report receiving two hours of free detention time frequently. Unfortunately, 27 percent of shippers don’t publish detention charges. Unfortunately, the issue is grimmer than meets the eye. According to a study, conducted by DAT, found that a mere 3 percent of truckers have been paid for 90 percent of their detention claims. The issue has grown in importance following the ELD mandate and rollout of HOS regulations.

Detention Time Prevention Immediately Impacts Brand Congeniality

In fact, shippers that get carrier trucks back on the road faster is the most critical factor for achieving “Shipper of Choice” status, as explained via Talking Logistics with Adrian Gonzalez.

Ways to Prevent Driver Detention Time

Shippers can work to reduce detention time for drivers by following a few steps to streamline dock scheduling and yard management.

  1. Pre-clear cargo and delivery instructors with the carrier. Taking a proactive step to pre-clear cargo and delivery instructions for the carrier and other supply chain parties will effectively reduce delays and ensure truckers know what to expect.
  2. Have a backup plan. Issues may occur, but each shipper has a responsibility to have a backup plan for when such problems arise — for example, utilizing a separate dock or another door to allow a delayed trucker to get freight unloaded within the two-hour time limit.
  3. Request extended free time, if available. Some carriers and distributors may offer an extension of free time, but this is often only available to those operating with significant volumes. In other words, the lost time is a non-issue as the shipper volume of business is enough to justify such delays.
  4. Send freight in advance and within a reasonable amount of time. Because of a common problem with detention time goes back to poor planning, late deliveries, and even early arrival. As a result, carriers and vendors should work together to ensure freight arrives on time, not hours before or hours after the scheduled arrival.
  5. Negotiate realistic, unloading times. Although most carriers and vendors have a policy of allowing up to two hours of free unloading and loading times, it is possible to negotiate based on the volume of freight. Ultimately, shippers moving more freight will be paying higher shipping costs, which may justify the added time.
  6. Schedule loading and unloading with detention time in mind. Dock scheduling should consider the potential costs of detention time, working to avoid bottlenecks and other issues that may arise.
  7. Stagger pickup times. As explained by Zipline Logistics, shippers should also stagger pickup times to avoid losses when all drivers leave and arrive at the dock. Ultimately, this reduces the peaks and lulls in unloading/loading.
  8. Extend facility hours. Extended facility hours, including overnight hours and weekend hours, are an excellent way to give truckers more options for deliveries.
  9. Offer mode-specific dock doors. Both mode-specific and the number of dock doors can effectively help more truckers deliver freight, reducing the risk of detention time.
  10. Avoid shipping to your facility, shipping directly from vendor to consumer. Avoiding shipping freight to your facility in the first place through cross docking and just-in-time order fulfillment strategies is another excellent way to reduce the risk of detention.
  11. Implement a drop-hook program. Although carriers and truckers can be paid for lost time through detention, another solution exists: implementing a drop-hook program. Essentially, this program does incur a detention time cost, but such costs are significantly lower than leaving a driver sitting in your yard waiting on freight unloading or loading.
  12. Increase your staff. Increasing the volume and productivity of your team provides another means of reducing detention time by ensuring truckers can move from dock to the road faster and with less hassle.

Inbound Freight Costs: How Gaining Visibility Achieves Bottom Line Savings

Reduce Detention Time and Gain “Shipper of Choice” Status

Detention time fees eat away at your profit margins and contribute to delays in replenishment and put away practices. Shippers need to implement strategies now to reduce detention time, which will build better relationships with truckers and improve eligibility for “Shipper of Choice” status.

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