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Dock Scheduling: Four Questions You Need to be Able to Answer

As a dock or warehouse manager you already have an answer for these questions. You live with these issues on a daily basis. The real question is “how comfortable are you with your answers?” Your responses are based on the best information that you have at your disposal, which may not be accurate or optimal, but certainly are honest. If your operation used an automated dock scheduling system I can assure you your answers would be different.

The four questions listed below are a sample of some of the more prevalent issues that we encounter when talking with warehouse managers. I encourage you to read on to better understand the alternatives that are available.

1. Why are we paying driver detention to our carriers?

Knowing that there may be delays in your operation and that some drivers end up waiting more than they should, have you examined how high the numbers really are? Your carrier tracks precisely when drivers arrive, when they are unloaded and when they leave your facility. How can you verify that the carrier’s numbers are accurate? How do you know that the driver didn’t show up early for an appointment and that he isn’t making you pay for it? This is a tough question and a tough situation.

Delays may be unavoidable but are most often due to lack of planning. When the work day is properly scheduled based on the operation’s capacity, and drivers are made to respect their appointment times, delays are the exception and not the rule. Furthermore, accurate logs of driver arrival and departure times will easily validate driver requests for waiting time so you’ll understand exactly why you are paying detention fees.

2. Has the product for next week’s promotion been scheduled yet?

The only answer to this question is yes - because any other answer won't cut it. Furthermore, “not yet” means a lot of last minute shuffling of the schedule to ensure that you can accommodate that featured product. In the worst case you will just bring them in and pay the consequences - be that in overtime or carrier detention.

Everyone tries to reserve space in the schedule for promotional product; however few know how to effectively manage this? An automated system allows you to reserve capacity for promotions and alert you when things don’t go as planned. In addition, carriers jockeying for the preferred time slots will be better managed with an automated system; allocating time slots based on the needs of the business versus the carrier’s.

3. Why are we spending so much on dock overtime?

You may have been able to negotiate your way out of paying driver detention, but that won’t happen with your dock staff. You know the root cause is the same as with driver waiting, but where do you start to solve it?

A dock scheduling system allows you to build a schedule based on your labor capacity. That also means that you can distribute those difficult to handle loads across a shift to maximize productivity. For example, you may want to limit the number of non-palletized containers that are received or restrict these loads to the beginning of the shift. In the worst case, when you know that higher volumes are expected, you can pro-actively bring in more staff and avoid overtime premiums. This will dramatically reduce your need for overtime; limiting the expense to the infrequent and justifiable occurrences.

4. Why aren't we scheduling our carriers over the internet?

This question comes from that new hire that just finished school. It only seems normal that carriers should be able to make their appointments over the web rather than call someone at the warehouse. This is a serious question and the answer of “I don’t know about that internet thing” doesn’t cut it anymore. Your key people are spending hours answering phone calls, emails and faxes and in this day and age it just doesn't seem right.

Honestly, you also would like to have an answer to this question, but you know that the guys in IT are already over worked and the budgets have all been exhausted.

The good news is that there are powerful cloud computing solutions out there for dock scheduling that are easy to implement, easy to integrate into your operation and don’t cost a fortune. Not only are they reasonably priced, but the direct savings incurred should more than compensate implementation and operating costs of such a solution. You will be surprised to know that getting a better grasp on these questions isn’t that complicated. To get started on informing yourself on the available options, sign up for a free WebEx demonstration of C3 Solutions dock scheduling system - C3 Reservations.


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