The trucking industry plays a critical role in moving shipments from one location to another. But, the combination of a labor shortage, the wrong incentives for players in the supply chain, and a lack of efficiencies have created tremendous stress on truckers.
In the aftermath of the global supply chain disruption, trucking is struggling to keep up with demand to move products throughout the supply chain. While there is no one solution to fix the current supply chain issues plaguing trucking, there are steps that can be taken to start realizing improvements that will pay off over time. Let’s first examine the challenges that need to be addressed.
Current Trucking Challenges Affecting the Supply Chain
While many trucking challenges affect the supply chain, we will unpack three of the most prominent issues that can be solved through a more intelligent and collaborative approach.
1. The Workforce
The issue of a supply chain truck driver shortage has reached the ears of the federal government. President Biden’s administration is working to increase the number of drivers on the road through a Trucking Action Plan program that is designed to attract professionals to the industry.
The idea is that the more truckers on the road, the more that can be moved throughout the supply chain. And the program could curb some of the burnout issues that truckers are currently experiencing, where they are being asked to spend a tremendous amount of time on the road trying to meet deadlines.
The program will help address one of the trucking industry’s core issues. However, those efforts will not be as fruitful if there is not a corresponding improvement to processes such as the processes that lead to “detention.”
Detention is the amount of time that truckers spend waiting for personnel at the beginning or end of the shipping process to load or unload freight (e.g., a warehouse, port, or distribution center). Often, truckers spend hours sitting around waiting instead of continuing to move products.
The issue of detention is the result of several inefficient processes, the wrong incentives, and a lack of support for employees. Let’s take a deep dive into two key factors contributing to detention and dissatisfaction among drivers and warehouse personnel.
– Worker satisfaction: Drivers waiting for their load to be loaded or unloaded and warehouse workers responsible for performing their duties can easily become dissatisfied with this key function.
For example, drivers will receive phone calls from their driver dispatcher wanting to know when their truck will be able to leave, but drivers don’t have a good answer to relay back to the dispatcher. Truckers translate this frustration to warehouse personnel, wanting to know why it’s taking so long.
Meanwhile, carriers get paid for detention, which incentivizes them to allow trucks to sit … and wait, further frustrating drivers. Then, warehouse personnel are typically paid by the hour. So, the longer it takes to load or unload freight, the more they will be paid. You end up with a powder keg of people-driven frustration.
– Lack of efficiency when loading: Additionally, many loads are not loaded properly or efficiently. Instead of staging loads for trucks and palletizing when possible, the freight is disorganized and inefficient. For example, small packages are loaded next to larger shipments on pallets, creating a mish-mash of freight.
The problem is passed down to someone else in a rush to get the truck back on the road. And, guess who is responsible for addressing this challenge? The dissatisfied personnel at the other end of the supply chain who have to unload the freight. They certainly won’t be in any hurry to help out a trucker if they see a disorganized load!
Efficiency when loading can go a long way toward supporting the unload process, helping address detention, and increasing worker satisfaction.
3. Lack of Coordination for Unloading
We identified how “detention” affects the unload process. Another challenge with unloading is not having visibility to know when a truck is arriving at the end location. Companies that don’t use tracking will create a tremendous amount of headaches.
For example, a truck arrives at the warehouse without notice. The majority of personnel are on a break, are helping with another freight unload, or are otherwise not available to support the incoming freight. Now, the trucker has to wait longer than expected for his freight to be unloaded.
That’s why visibility coupled with Advance Ship Notices (ASNs) are critical for receipt efficiency. This way, warehouses can receive a “heads up” of what to expect during a given day. Warehouses don’t want to be surprised by an incoming freight they were unprepared to handle. This can negatively impact warehouse logistics by creating stress on managers and personnel trying to coordinate incoming freight.
ASNs can also help warehouses understand exactly what is coming into the warehouse:
- Does the freight have many small packages that require more personnel to remove items by hand?
- Does the freight have large items on pallets that will require forklifts?
- Does the warehouse even have room to receive the incoming freight?
Proper use of ASNs supported by tracking visibility will help warehouses understand how to mobilize people and equipment to unload and receive the freight so that truckers can get back on the road.
Solutions to Address Key Trucking Issues in the Supply Chain
1. Start at the beginning. Detention can first be addressed before the freight even makes it on a truck. Any loading facility that has the ability to pre-stage freight should implement processes to make this happen. This means gathering all products for the load and staging them in place at the dock door before the driver arrives.
Not all shippers have the ability to pre-stage freight, but minimizing as much movement as possible is a key method to properly load a truck and get the truck on its way to the next destination.
2. Be cognizant of the other end. The way in which the freight is packaged and loaded has a huge impact on the time required for workers at the end of the supply chain.
Many loads consist of small boxes of various sizes that are never palletized (e.g., floor loads). This requires personnel to load and unload boxes by hand, which takes an extraordinary amount of time. Because this is a key contributor to dissatisfaction amongst warehouse personnel, it’s always best to palletize as much as possible so that forklifts can be used for efficiency. This cuts down on time at both the origin and destination.
3. Communicate with end recipients. When trying to keep things moving swiftly and efficiently, visibility and advanced notice make all the difference. It helps to have technology in place that can properly inform all interested parties about the following aspects:
- How a load is moving
- What’s contained in the load
- When the load is expected to arrive at its destination
- Where the load is located throughout the journey
All of these points aid in the ability to plan the right dock location and personnel for unloading. The right technology and tools can even help automate the receiving process.
Work with CloudLogix to Address Challenges in the Supply Chain
Our team understands the supply chain logistics challenges that affect your company. We’ve been in your position before, working with truckers to move freight. That’s why we built a platform that simplifies the supply chain by streamlining the connection between key players. Our platform provides:
- Enhanced communication throughout the supply chain
- Increased visibility (end-to-end shipment visibility between all players)
- Access to real-time data to coordinate shipments
- Seamless integration with your other software tools
- Carrier management to review the status of each shipment
Our team of experts is available to work with your team to refine key processes and help you utilize our platform. You’ll realize efficiencies and better outcomes when working with truckers to transport products throughout your supply chain.
Contact us today for a consultation to discuss the trucking challenges that are affecting your company. We’re here to help!