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Dock Scheduling Guide [2024] : Everything You Need To Know

The dock is a key part of any operation. It is the critical interface between the inside and outside, for product coming and going. It can either be a choke point and a source of pain, or it can be a model of efficiency that reflects your entire operation.

If you are either learning, shopping or simply curious, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about dock scheduling.

In this article, you’ll learn about:

  1. What Is Dock Scheduling

  2. Dock Scheduling VS Appointment Management System

  3. 10 Warning Signs You Need a Dock Scheduling Software

  4. Why Is Dock Scheduling Important?

  5. Other Impacts of Poor Dock Scheduling

  6. Choosing the Right Solution for You - A Buyer's Guide

  7. Build or Buy?

  8. Understanding R.O.I - How to Build your case

  9. C3 ROI Calculator: Find Out About Your Yearly Saving!


1. What Is Dock Scheduling?

Dock scheduling is a critical logistical process involved in warehouse and distribution center operations, aiming to streamline the flow of goods in and out of a facility.

This process involves the allocation of loading docks, workers, and equipment to incoming and outgoing trucks in a way that maximizes efficiency, reduces wait times, and minimizes conflicts.

Dock scheduling is not just about managing physical space; it's also about optimizing time and resources to ensure that supply chain operations run smoothly.

The simplest way of defining Dock scheduling is as a solution that allows distribution center operators to optimize inbound and outbound traffic.

It improves dock productivity and door turnaround, expands visibility, eliminates site congestion and automates the appointment booking process with suppliers and carriers via an online portal.


Who Uses Dock Scheduling Appointment Systems?

  • Distribution Centers
    • Distribution Centers can fully automate their dock appointment scheduling process. With an advanced dock scheduling platform, they can build a plan for each warehouse that will dictate who can deliver which product, at which facility and in what time period. This ensures that carriers and vendors will respect priorities and limitations when they request their appointments.

  • Suppliers & Carriers
    • With a SaaS dock scheduling system, suppliers and carriers can request appointments online. The portal being available 24/7, these supply chain partners no longer need to call into the appointment desk. Their appointments are confirmed automatically, and all communications are automated within the portal or via system generated email confirmations.


The Role of Dock Scheduling Software

In the past, dock scheduling was often managed manually, with phone calls, faxes, and spreadsheets. However, this approach can lead to inefficiencies, errors, and conflicts, given the complex and dynamic nature of logistics operations.

Enter dock scheduling software, which automates the process, ensuring a more streamlined, accurate, and efficient operation.

Dock scheduling software acts as a centralized platform where carriers, warehouse managers, and suppliers can view available dock times and schedule their shipments accordingly.

This technology often includes features like real-time updates, automatic notifications, and integration with other supply chain management systems, providing a comprehensive solution to dock scheduling challenges.

Benefits of Dock Scheduling Software

  1. Improved Efficiency: By automating scheduling, facilities can optimize the use of their docks and workforce, reducing idle times and improving throughput. This leads to more goods being moved in less time.

  2. Reduced Detention Fees: Carriers often charge detention fees when their vehicles are forced to wait beyond a specified time. Dock scheduling software helps in minimizing these wait times, thereby reducing or eliminating detention fees.

  3. Enhanced Visibility and Communication: All stakeholders have real-time access to scheduling information, reducing misunderstandings and conflicts. Automated notifications keep everyone informed about changes, reducing the likelihood of missed appointments or double bookings.

  4. Data-Driven Decision Making: Dock scheduling software collects data on every aspect of the dock scheduling process, which can be analyzed to identify trends, bottlenecks, and opportunities for further optimization.

  5. Increased Carrier Satisfaction: By making it easier for carriers to book appointments and reducing wait times, dock scheduling software can help improve relationships with transport companies, making it more likely that they will prioritize your shipments.


Which Industries Need a Dock Scheduling Systems?

  • Grocers

Scheduling practices are particularly complicated in the grocery world due to the numerous exceptions and rules which govern a scheduler’s decision for booking load dates and times.

Grocers, wholesalers or retailers, national or regional players, all face similar challenges:

  1. Is the food getting to the stores fresh?

  2. Are vendors bringing the right product on time?

  3. Are docks receiving resources used efficiently?

There are many factors that influence the answers to the above questions, including the process by which appointments are requested, booked and confirmed. Using sophisticated constraints, unload duration computation rules and PO information (EDD, SKU, Qty…), a best-of-breed dock scheduling system provides planning and execution tools which ensures the right product will arrive on time while balancing the dock workload. Discover C3 Solutions' F.O.O.D. Program  designed specifically for the Grocery Industry.

  • Retail

Retailers were among the early adopters of a dock appointment scheduling process; enforcing a disciplined schedule.

The challenge is that most have not modernized their process in decades beyond replacing the phone calls with emails and paper calendars with spreadsheets.

With the incessant pressure on reducing supply chain costs, warehouses are looking to reduce the labor hours spent on scheduling, obtain better visibility via KPIs, as well as improving reporting for on-time arrivals and unloading duration in order to make their receiving and shipping operations more efficient.

C3 Solutions launched its Retail Program last year. Visit this page and learn how the technology is reshaping the retail landscape. Plan your next move!

  • Transportation and Logistics

Third-party warehousing companies, be they contract or multi-tenant, need to maintain high service levels with all parties while operating on slim margins.

Eliminating drivers wait times, maximizing the labor utilization rate, and monitoring strict compliance KPIs are some of the reasons why 3PLs select an online carrier appointment scheduling software.

  • Manufacturing

Just-in-time manufacturing is synonymous to having no margin for error. This means that logistics, both in terms of supply chain and delivery chain, play an increasingly important role in the overall success of the organization.

With a dock appointment scheduling system in place, the manufacturing sites have visibility on each DC’s schedule, providing the means to communicate to the carriers the appointment time. This real-time communication ensures that trucks arrive on time and in the desired sequence, preventing congestion and therefore improving the flow of goods


We use WMS, TMS... What Is the Difference?

Why They Aren't Enough to Optimize Your Operations

Let's demystify the capabilities and limitations of WMS and TMS software as it pertains to their ability to manage scheduling to docks.

We have seen many requests for supply chain software that include basic requirements for scheduling software; essentially simple checkboxes next to the requirement for appointment scheduling.  Businesses shouldn’t underestimate the complexity and the importance of scheduling loads in/out of the site and its impact on both warehousing and transportation departments. 

In order to better understand this argument, we’ll explore the core missions of the TMS and WMS providers and give examples of their shortcomings in retail, manufacturing, and grocery industries.  

Transportation Management System (TMS):

A TMS can mean different things to different users, but they can be summarized in three main domains:

  • Routing software
  • Load tendering system
  • Freight settlement

In all these cases, the owner of the TMS controls the freight spend. In the grocery industry, for example, a TMS will be used to route deliveries to their stores and potentially tender out loads on routes outside of their fleet’s reach. But one can clearly see that the grocer is in a position to control 100% of the freight spend. On the inbound side, however, other than backhauls, freight comes from such diverse methods that it is difficult to control 100% of it. There is domestic freight, cross border freight, ocean and air freight of which a mix is prepaid and collected.

There are exceptions to this, but there are few. Thus, in the grocery industry, a TMS doesn’t have the reach to provide the grocer visibility on 100% of the inbound traffic flow; creating a risk that live loads may culminate in creating driver wait times and for priority loads not to have the desired access to the warehouse.

In a manufacturing environment, we witnessed a bottler using a TMS to build shipments (based on volume and destination) and tendering them on the TMS online portal.  

Although the pickup date is known, carriers need to call or email for an appointment in order to establish the pickup time because certain variables are unknown in the TMS, such as whether the shipment is live or preloaded, taken off the production line or from stock, etc. With the scheduling software, companies such as this bottler can customize their capacity plan to take into consideration all the variables that affect dock productivity. 

The carrier, using the load number produced by the TMS, enters it in the scheduling software portal, and the available times displayed now truly reflect the site’s capacity plan, eliminating the back and forth emails and phone calls. Furthermore, it is possible, through the use of web APIs, for the scheduling software to receive the load numbers and then send back the confirmation of the appointment date and time to the TMS, eliminating duplicate data entry and the associated risk of errors.

A best-in-class scheduling system focuses on:

  • Planning and scheduling; 

  • It can handle collect, prepaid, or any other type of load that may be expected. 

  • The scheduling information can easily be shared in real-time with a TMS, thus enhancing the end-to-end receiving process and providing operations with the best of both worlds.

This is where a fully integrated independent scheduling software helps. 

When does the TMS fail?

Here are telltale signs the TMS is failing you in the realm of scheduling.

  1. Less than 100% of the loads are managed by the TMS

  2. Carriers are unable to schedule the loads online

  3. Sites are unable to influence the sequence of shipments. They have no control over capacity constraints to assist in leveling the workflow.

  4. You can’t capture all the KPIs necessary to measure dock performance.


  • A TMS cannot give you 100% control on your inbound loads and the lack of information on loads limits the total optimization of the journey (drivers wait time, spoiled food...)
  • They still rely on phone and email communication.


Warehouse Management System (WMS):  

WMS have made great strides over the past decades in optimizing warehousing, particularly put-away and pick times, overall storage capacity, automated conveying with de-palletizers and pickers, establishing labor standards, incorporating voice picking, advance safety measures and more. Essentially, they manage the stocking of item numbers and optimize the flow of purchase order numbers in order to reduce the logistical cost while ensuring high service levels. (We go through all these technologies and their benefits in our Retail white paper Warehouse Software Systems: The Brains Behind the Operation).

At its core, a WMS buys goods from suppliers, inventories them, and sells goods to customers. A WMS doesn’t have a relationship (from a software perspective) with carriers, load numbers, truck types, and other variables that are essential to properly plan your dock schedule.  Furthermore, some WMS don’t manage intercompany transfers properly because they cannot associate a sale order (create a PO# for a non-customer) to the transfer items - nevermind planning a dock appointment!

For example, a value retailer receiving ocean freight containers needs to be able to estimate the unloading time of these versus domestic shipments that are palletized. Their WMS/ERP is a well-known brand but doesn’t even provide a timestamp at the starting point of the unloading process. This was frustrating for the retailer since they couldn’t properly plan the labor hours required to unload and subsequently could not measure it!  

In the furniture retail business, a customer receives a variety of different load types via various transport methods. Their WMS, another well-known brand, knows the product type. However, it can’t know, in the case of rug loads, that; a) a special conveyor is required to unload them, b) this conveyor is located at a specific dock area, and c) since it takes 4 hours to unload, they don’t want to receive more than one per day.

This is where you need full visibility and planning capabilities with an advanced dock scheduling solution.

When does the WMS fail?

  1. Suppliers, carriers, and customers can’t book their appointments online.

  2. Sites are unable to influence the sequence of shipments. They have no control over capacity constraints to assist in leveling the workflow.

  3. Prioritizing shipments whether for inbound or outbound, is not possible.

  4. You can’t capture all the KPIs necessary to measure dock performance.


  • A WMS cannot account for the load specific needs (size, unloading time, special equipment...) which will ultimately affect how inventory and labor is managed.


Nobody’s Perfect!

Life would be so much simpler if there was a one-size-fits-all supply chain software provider. Obviously, the WMS and TMS industry is large and controls a huge dollar spend. Yet in the middle, between the entrance to the site and the dock doors, there’s a little space too often neglected.

If you’re wondering whether your WMS or TMS is efficiently managing your dock schedule, watch out for signs such as:

  1. Clerks managing hundreds of emails per day.

  2. Multiple spreadsheets are used to track shipments and schedules

  3. Your shipping/receiving leads and admins are super busy and stressed out.

If you see any of these signs, you know your WMS & TMS aren’t cut out to be dock scheduling software!

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2. Dock Scheduling Software & Appointment Management System: What’s the Difference?


Appointment Management System

First, one has to recognize that dock scheduling is not merely about booking an appointment in a given time slot.  Contrary to individuals who simply wish to book an appointment in, say, a medical clinic, scheduling trailers needs to take into consideration dock and floor space, equipment, labor, business priorities (production J-I-T to retail promotions) and then some. Therefore, from the start, one needs to recognize that scheduling trailers and containers in and out of a facility touches business processes, such as inventory, production, and customer orders.

The traditional pen and paper approach to scheduling doesn't provide the maximum efficiency due to the multiple variables in play (load types, vehicle types, load priorities, etc.). Changing the scheduling system involves many players, in and around the warehouse. Managers may feel that finding a solution that satisfies all the team members’ requirements a daunting task in order to prevent:

  • The challenge of keeping an up-to-date version where various internal stakeholders can access the information it contains.
  • Carriers still have to be notified by phone or email when a change is needed.
  • Communication errors can happen in a manual system, especially when things get busy.
  • You need to have perhaps more than one full-time scheduler on staff.
  • If your scheduler gets sick or quits, you'll be scrambling.
How does this add up? A quick Example:

Let’s use this small operation as a reference example:

  • 20 appointments/day
  • Receiving opened 5 days/week
  • 5 minutes / appointment (phone calls or email thread)
  • 5 minutes / appointment to update schedules and systems 10% of rescheduled appointments
  • 5 calls/week from buyers1 activity report / week (2 hours of work)

This adds up to 20 hours of work per week to manage a single schedule of 100 appointments.

Added to these management costs are the costs of not having a proper appointment management system in place:

  • Dock staff overtime due to poor workload balancing
  • Missed hot loads
  • Double-ordering due to lack of visibility
  • Failure to compile (and potentially charge back for) non-compliance issues

Of course a dock scheduling system may not replace the need for a scheduler but imagine the time that could be saved if this process was automated – even partially; time which could be invested in more proactive tasks such as measuring and enforcing vendor compliance, for example.

Dock Scheduling Software

Dock scheduling software is meant to optimize the flow of trucks in and out of the docks at a warehouse or manufacturing facility. The software also has other inherent benefits such as eliminating the need for emails and phone calls to book and amend appointments plus reporting on KPIs, among others..

Since the dock operations are adjacent to warehouse operations and because TMS manage loads in and out of the site, it is natural that complimentary software providers extend their product offering by promising to also efficiently manage dock scheduling.


Here's how a Dock Scheduling System will transform how you work:
  • Dock Scheduling moves beyond appointment management by enabling sophisticated prioritization of customers, suppliers, loads, product types, carriers, and more, depending on your specific business needs. In essence, it’s a capacity planning tool; or a smart-schedule.

  • It allows direct communication between the system and carriers, and enables real-time visibility via a web portal to anyone who needs it, including carriers, suppliers, internal staff, or customers.

  • Its communications abilities mean that phone calls, faxes and emails between your staff and carriers are eliminated.

  • A dock scheduling system can also have reporting capabilities that include audits on loads delivered, enabling compliance information to be recorded and transmitted automatically.

The best way to optimize the supply chain is by implementing collaborative and automated systems and hopefully leverage data integration between information systems and mobile technology.

3. 10 Warning Signs You Need a Dock Scheduling Software

Independent of the type of business you operate, dock scheduling relates to managing the timeliness of the shipments for both inbound and outbound traffic in your facility. Intuitively, one would think that scheduling is required only when the traffic exceeds the capacity to receive or ship. Although volume is important, it isn’t the only determining factor. In fact, dock scheduling is all about maximizing the efficiency of your dock operations, from the standpoint of your labor, equipment and business requirements.

Surprisingly, most operators don’t recognize the real cost of their dock scheduling inefficiencies.You don't need to be experiencing all these problems for your docks to be operating inefficiently. Even exhibiting one or two of these symptoms means there are steps you can take to streamline operations, and enhance efficiency to improve productivity and cut costs.

Typical Symptoms of Inefficient Dock Scheduling

At the dock

  1. There is frequently a lineup of trucks in your yard.

  2. Drivers complain about the wait times at your docks.

At the desk

  1. Staff are constantly on the phone with carriers, making appointments and answering queries about where drivers are.

  2. Internal clients, like sales or purchasing, are calling to find out where the product is.

  3. There is lots of paperwork: Daily, weekly, monthly reports, truck manifests, driver detention invoices... it builds up and takes too much of your time to manage.


  1. Carriers are getting testy about making pickups and deliveries at your site.Your customers are unhappy, and are penalizing you because of late deliveries.

  2. Staff are working too much overtime, but also seem to have a lot of downtime when there

    are no trucks arriving or leaving

Quality and Safety

  1. Safety is compromised because people are in a hurry. Mistakes are made.

    Debris builds up.

  2. Maintenance may be skipped.

  3. You don't have any insight into the carrier's performance.

Still not convinced? Here are some common myths about dock scheduling debunked in this white paper:
  • "A Dock Scheduling Software is Too Expensive"

  • "Dock Scheduling Over the Web – My Carriers and Suppliers Will Never Do It!"

  • "My Vendors Will Never Buy Into the New Scheduling Process"

  • "We Can’t Afford to Refuse Loads so Why Bother Scheduling?”

  • "I Don’t Need A Dock Appointment Scheduling Because I Deal With A 3PL"

4. Why You Should Integrate a Dock Scheduling Software as Soon as Possible

Dock Scheduling will provide you with one single goal: Optimize your operations. Your business will turn over a new leaf because it will leap into new habits that will streamline day-to-day tasks with a blink of an eye, but also improve relationships in the overall Supply chain (Read about The Lean Supply Chain in our article).


Integrating a Dock scheduling system in your operations plays a leading role in alleviating obvious pain points when scheduling appointments:

  1. Back-and-forth Communications

  2. System Updates

  3. Appointments Change Requests

  4. Internal Communications

However, visibility means much more than knowing where your merchandise, workforce are. It means taking into account the unforeseen impacts of appointments multiple variables:

  • knowing when drivers are expected at your docks
  • what volumes (pallets, units, weight) they’ll deliver/pick-up
  • and the load types (floor loaded, palletized, containers), etc.

A practical example that comes to mind is one most often seen in the retail and distribution industries. We hear warehouse managers complain that their purchasing departments place orders with little consideration for their warehouse capacity. In fact, the buyers simply don’t have visibility on warehouse capacity.

After implementing the dock scheduling system and integrating PO data from their ERP/WMS, the warehouse managers can now see the volumes that are expected to be delivered in the coming days and either adjust their capacity (e.g., labor) or advise the buyers ahead of time to correct the incoming volumes.  Improved visibility eliminated the element of surprise, reducing the risk of cluttering the floor with overflow stock and more importantly improved warehouse productivity by reducing overtime labor. 


Through automation:

  • Labor savings; eliminate 95% of emails and phone calls sent to the schedulers related to appointment requests, amendments, confirmations and cancellations.

  • Labor savings; eliminate 100% of phone calls and emails from internal customers – the buyers and sales people (customer service) who contact the warehouse for status updates on shipments.

  • Labor savings; schedulers wasting time entering appointment data into ERP, WMS, TMS, LMS when the appointment information and time stamps can be integrated electronically into the complementary information systems.

  • Labor savings: eliminate 100% of the time spent compiling reports regarding arrival times (on time, late, unloading, etc.).

  • Maximizing through flow on the docks. Reports detailing times to load/unload per appointment will provide managers the tool to maximize the productivity of their docks.

Becoming Paperless and Contactless

The Future is Paperless

Do you remember when paperless efforts in the supply chain were only related to 'green' initiatives? Saving paper was the big thing - and still should be; but, current events have driven a renewed demand for avoiding paper.

This White Paper discusses the various ways in which automated processes will not only help keep your business alive during these uncertain times, but will also reassure your workforce that they are safe while at work.

  • Technology for the paperless future
  • Becoming a "Shipper of Choice"
  • Speed, accuracy, and accountability
  • Sustainability
  • Cost Savings


5. Other Impacts of Poor Dock Scheduling

Strategies to alleviate the bottom-line pain that shippers feel due to a lack of truck drivers range from improving the profession's image to attract more drivers, to improving the productivity of those who remain, to changing transportation and network options.

Driver's Shortage

Shippers are up against serious challenges in 2023. Numerous factors are combining to make it difficult for manufacturers and retailers alike to achieve the increased volume, speed and accuracy demanded by our booming economy.

Put simply, constrained capacity has turned transportation – specifically trucking, which moves about 70 percent of freight – into a pain point for many shippers. It's a story we’ve heard before, but this time it's worse than ever. Many of these challenges are systemic, meaning that everyone faces them, and they demand ever more creative solutions to ensure bottom-line success. In this paper we will look at the many factors contributing to the capacity crunch, explore some of the ways shippers try to pretend it's not a problem, and then offer some practical methods for improving the situation.

This article on Driver's Shortage provides a deeper understanding of the causes of the situation, but also outlines ideas you can apply to your own logistics operation.

Becoming a Shipper of Choice

Explore how effective dock scheduling optimizes daily logistics operations, boosts productivity, and makes you a preferred shipper with C3 Solutions.

Here are 4 must-reads on becoming a shipper of choice

Better Customer Relationship

We’ve occasionally received inquiries from operations managers, typically in manufacturing or 3PL environments, who admit they need to get their docks organized because their customers are complaining about drivers wait times and slow turnarounds.  Their scheduling process is either nonexistent or totally improvised - far from being Lean.  In their case, implementing a dock scheduling software like C3 Reservations forces them to change their business processes and implement ‘best practices’ - definitely a cornerstone in building better customer relationships.

6. Choosing the Right Solution for You - a Buyer's Guide

For essential tips on shopping for dock scheduling software, download C3's ultimate buying guidebook: Everything you need to know about Dock Scheduling Software

You might be convinced to adopt a dock scheduling system, but with so many options out there - from best of breed off-the-shelf applications to in-house custom developed software. Here is what you should be looking out for when shopping with specific requirements in mind.

Here are 4 main considerations you should focus on when looking for a new dock scheduling system: Function, Interface and Data Sharing and Technology.


  • Mobile-enabled scheduling should allow warehouses, yard staff and drivers to quickly capture key data points on their devices, such as time-stamps for arrivals, on-dock and departures.

  • Web-based scheduling should have drag and drop functionality.

    Most users are now familiar with applications offering drag and drop and intuitive user interfaces, which greatly reduce the level of training required.

  • Users may be given permission to access the system from anywhere and to the level they require for their particular function.Multiple languages and time zones should be supported.

Data sharing
  • Integration with multiple systems should be a basic function of the system. Whether it's WMS, ERP, TMS, or something else, your scheduling software should be able to 'speak' to these other systems easily, allowing data to flow in either direction.

  • Reporting should be easy and adaptable. It should be possible to extract data daily and share it with your other systems, or export it directly. Reports should be flexible and it should be possible to grant rights to specific users to create, edit or read only, depending on their needs.

  • An audit function should allow you to track and manage performance of carriers, and your own operations, to designated KPIs. The system should be able to audit results against your own set of business requirements.

7. Build or Buy?

There are a few ways you can get the dock scheduling system you need. Options include developing it in-house, buying a license software, or choosing Software as a Service (SaaS).

A) In-house development

In-house development may seem like a good option if you have a unique set-up with custom legacy software and IT resources sitting idle. However, once you factor in all the time and resources it would require to develop your own solution—unless you are a software development firm—chances are you'll find yourselves behind schedule and ultimately with an out-of-date product. There’s so much expertise on the market at the moment that in-house development just doesn’t make good business sense.

Can You Really Afford in-House Development?

You have a strong and dedicated I.T team who knows the in and outs of your warehouse operations. But are they really aware of all needs and do they have a 360 degree visibility and communication on everything that is going on in and out?

Okay, let’s say you’ve chosen to build your own solution. That’s the first step. Now... When exactly will this solution be in place and at what cost for your business?

When evaluating the costs and time, take into consideration gathering your requirements, designing the application and its architecture, developing the front-end and back-end, testing the solution, buying the hardware, deploying the application, setting it up and VOILA! Months, maybe even years have gone by and you’re maybe going live with your solution. You’ve spent valuable internal IT resources on a project that could’ve been long deployed. End result: your competitors are way ahead of you and your business is deploying out-of-date software. Remember: you’re developing an application that will (hopefully) have a web front-end so your vendors and carriers can manage their own appointments. It needs to be future-friendly. We all know how quickly web technology evolves and can become outdated in a matter of months.

Another aspect related to cost is the fact that software providers are already offering Dock Scheduling as software-as-a-service (SaaS). This ensures you limit your financial exposure. ‘Pay-as-you-go’ dock scheduling allows you to subscribe to the service and pay only for what you need. No upfront capital expenditure. You’re guaranteed to reap the benefits from day one.

B) Licensed software

Licensed software requires a sizable investment in hardware to run it on, and also may leave your organization vulnerable to data breaches when the system runs on your own servers (due in part to external portal access). It generally requires a substantial commitment to maintaining in-house IT resources as well.

C) A SaaS Best-of-Breed Solution

A SaaS solution, on the other hand, requires no hardware and no software. It is scalable and quick to implement. SaaS systems also avoid the security concerns about letting outside users inside the company firewall, because they are hosted in secure data centres and are frequently updated to ensure security keeps up. These systems are easily customized and can effectively communicate with your enterprise systems. SaaS systems are also less expensive and can offer an ROI in only a few months.


Watch Product Video

You’re Really Not THAT Unique

Oftentimes, one of the reasons companies look into building their own dock scheduling solution is that they believe this will ensure they hit the mark on 100% of their requirements. Well, I’ve got some bad news for them: it’s not the case!

First off, dock scheduling vendors have been working for years with teams of developers and business specialists in order to address the challenges faced by multitudes of companies. They’ve designed their software to answer the needs of manufacturers, distributors and 3PLs in an ever-growing list of industries... don’t you think you fit somewhere in there and can benefit from that exposure?

Additionally, keep in mind that new requirements and ideas evolve as a product is developed. It just comes with the territory. This means you’ll need to accommodate them in some way in your software (or you could let the business down and tell them they’ll have to wait for the next version... oh wait, when is that going to happen with bespoke software?). With an off-the-shelf solution, chances are the software vendor has encountered this requirement with other customers and already has features addressing it in its service

Think Integration

At some point, you’ll want your solution to interact in some way or another with systems in your enterprise (if not, see my second argument about new requirements...). Are all these systems bespoke pieces of software you’ve developed over the years? If so, maybe building is for you. But for most companies out there, it’s more likely they’ve got ‘off-the-shelf’ products from well-known vendors for several of their larger systems (ERPs, WMS, TMS, YMS, etc). Going with a software vendor that has a proven track record in integrating these systems (or even specific products) can simplify your integration project and ensure you get the most of your brand new dock scheduling system.

Costs for Licenced Software Vs SasS

The cost of the software will vary greatly whether you are buying a licensed software or a SaaS platform, like C3 Reservations.

SaaS dock scheduling system:
  • Annual recurring fees including maintenance, upgrades and support
  • Set-up fees if applicable
Licensed software
  • Recurring user/site license fees
  • Recurring support and maintenance fees
  • Set-up fees if applicable
  • In-house infrastructure and maintenance costs

Read our white paper on How Technology is Reshaping the Modern Supply Chain.

You Choose a Vendor. What Are the Other Considerations? Implementation Best Practices

Streamlining and getting your warehouse in order

Adopting a Dock Scheduling system doesn't mean it can be worked on integrated with a single click.

A crucial part of the process is to assemble a successful project. Team that will work in harmony with your vendor's team. Clear Communication between all departments is key, but if you are interested in 10 tips for a successful implementation, you can check our list here in our practical guide about Buying a Dock Scheduling Software.

8. Understanding R.O.I  - How to Build your case

Are You Cutting Costs or Investing?

Do companies call us for a dock scheduling system strictly because they want to cut costs?

Rarely. In a recent inquiry, the person wrote:

‘’I am the logistics manager. I am in need of a dock scheduling software that will provide me peace of mind, and will eliminate archaic complications.’’ 

No mention about cutting costs here; not that price wasn’t important.  We can easily say that almost all inquiries we get are to resolve process issues, from plain inefficiencies to execution errors that are deemed critical.

Cost Savings

What potential gains will you obtain from a dock scheduling software?  

  • There are the obvious direct labor savings related to the scheduling tasks (eliminating the phone calls and emails) - about 80-95 percent savings.

  • All the fees due to a poorly planned schedule that incur overtime labor and driver detention fees should be eliminated.  Conversely, a well planned schedule will assist you in labor planning.

  • Detention fees paid out due to drivers waiting or to trailers sitting in the yard (not being tracked and returned in time).

  • Detention fees paid in overage because the business did not have the appropriate documentation (time stamps) to disprove the driver’s story.

  • Tracking KPIs such as driver turnaround times, on-time and late arrivals, etc.  Reports could also include shipment errors and volume variances in real-time.

  • Through data integration with your existing information systems, you can expect to eliminate duplicate data entry, ensure data integrity and speed up entire processes.

  • Augment product safety with greater visibility of your supply chain, secure site access and respect regulatory requirements (C-TPAT, OPA, PPP). Here is how a consumer goods manufacturer ditched Google Sheets and Outlook calendar for C3 Reservations and how it helps to obtain its C-TPAT certification (Link to Case Study).

  • Overtime labor due to poor planning. Receiving unplanned goods at the end of a shift and requiring unloading and receiving personnel to stay late.

  • Multiple calls and emails from internal customers (buyers, sales, CSRs) inquiring on whether the product has arrived or shipped. Estimate the number of calls/emails per day x minutes spent per communication.

  • Loss of productivity due to lack of reporting on unloading/loading times. Without being a labor management software (LMS), a scheduling solution provides reports on time spent between the arrival and departure of trailers, by account, carrier, dock teams, and so forth.

  • Safety and security fines due to cluttered exit doors (true story). Receiving too many pallets or breakdown loads at an inappropriate time forces staff to pile up goods anywhere they can. If inspectors arrive on site and witness infractions (blocking security exits), the business is fined.

9. C3 ROI Calculator

Here are some pain points you can quantify in dollars. Open a new spreadsheet and start entering:

While for some of you the need for a scheduling system is painfully obvious, and the pressure to implement one may be coming from senior management, for others it might be necessary at this point to demonstrate the value to management before you can get the budget to proceed. In that case, the next step is to estimate the cost of inefficient operations.

  • Driver detention fees
  • Unnecessary trailer demurrage fees
  • Unscheduled overtime pay
  • Premium transportation services
  • Lost shipments
  • Lost time injury costs due to poor loading dock safety practices
  • Fines for breaking health and safety regulations due to trip and fall hazards or improperly maintained equipment 

Use our ROI Calculator to calculate your yearly savings and download your free report:

How C3 Solutions Can Help You Build Your Case.
  • Talk to our Experts! Request a personalized demonstration of C3 Reservations, our best of breed dock scheduling software, or C3 Yard, our award winning yard management software.

    Our product experts will walk you through the application via an online meeting center and answer your questions. Click here to request a demo!
  • Choose from a myriad of resources that will help you seal the deal with your decision maker - from White papers to case studies and industry-oriented programs (FOOD & Retail), we have +20 years of expertise ready to be shared among your peers so that you are Ready to Take it to the Next level.

Further Readings