If you’ve been paying higher and higher driver detention fees lately, you’re not alone. According to a new report from C.H. Robinson and Iowa State University, favored shippers are receiving better pricing and service. Those that don’t fall into the “shipper of choice” category are bearing the brunt of the driver detention and related fees.
In Do Favored Shippers Really Receive Better Pricing and Service? the report’s authors set out to better understand the voice of U.S. truckload carriers and quantitatively measure the effects of “favored shipper” characteristics on transportation costs. Through this process, they found that the top three characteristics impacting these costs include:
- Dwell time/asset utilization. Carriers most frequently commented on shipper and consignee dwell time and the influence shippers have on the carrier’s ability to utilize their drivers and assets (trucks and trailers), the report notes. Comments included concerns about shipper location (e.g., congestion and distance from the highway), drop trailer opportunities, appointment setting, and load/unload times.
- Contract terms and liability. All carriers mentioned liability concerns related to either the freight or the drivers who are on shipper/consignee property, according to the report. Payment terms, actual payment time, and detention (driver and trailer) were also commonly discussed.
- Driver experience. Several carriers mentioned concerns related to the driver’s experience at the shipper and consignee. These ranged from the check-in process—which can be facilitated by a digital (YMS)—and parking, to driver lounges and restrooms. “In general, smaller carriers were more likely to discuss driver issues than larger carriers.”
Using shipment data and econometric modeling, Iowa State University’s researchers quantitatively measured the effects of these characteristics on transportation costs. With a 2-hour dwell time at origin increasing the freight rate for every load shipped by an average of $9.83 (along with any detention charges), that cost multiplied across many loads can add up quickly.
7 Steps to Take Now
To keep carrier dwell time to a minimum and reduce the related charges, C.H. Robinson and Iowa State University tell shippers to start using these strategies:
- Leverage live load flexibility. Freight may be ready early for pickup. If a dock door is open and the shipper can proactively communicate this to their live load provider, they can obtain a truck before a scheduled appointment. “Live loading provides the flexibility to deal with fluctuations in demand,” the report’s authors state. “It enables coordination between manufacturing, shipping, and the carrier to accommodate freight when manufacturing is ahead of schedule, or when shipping falls behind.” Using your YMS, you can designate a dock door (or a percent of time for multiple doors) for live load activity or combined drop trailer/live load freight. This strategy enables the shipper or consignee to dramatically reduce the amount of time the driver is on their property.
- Pre-stage freight on shipping dock. Proactively prepare for carrier arrivals so they can get in and out faster. This is another process that your digital YMS can handle for you.
- Offer appointments for loading and unloading. Put an appointment or notification scheduling process in place to maximize the use of dock doors and people and to increase efficiency. “Stay as close to designated times as possible,” the report’s authors advise. “Also monitor the receivers’ facility characteristics and what the carrier encounters on the delivery end.”
- Palletize freight. Palletized freight can be loaded and unloaded faster than loose boxes and pieces.
- Maintain adequate staff for loading and unloading. “A cascading effect quickly occurs on dwell time when dock staff is insufficient to handle scheduled appointments,” the report notes. “Shippers should ensure that adequate staff is on hand at all times.”
- For large facilities, provide a good map or directions to the appropriate dock door. To reduce frustration and enable faster loading/unloading times, provide carriers with a map and directions to the appropriate dock door or their shipment.
- Use drop trailers. Shippers can load drop trailers according to their timing and schedules. “The carrier arrives, hooks up the trailer, and goes, with a minimum of wait time,” the report states, “This is easily the best solution in high-volume facilities.”