Driver detention creates domino effect across the supply chain

( PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK )

(PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK)

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Driver detention has plagued the trucking industry for years, causing headaches and lost wages. Now that the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is in effect and fleets are decked out with more technology than ever, carriers have a better view of just how much detention is costing them.

FreightWaves Director of Freight Intelligence Zach Strickland calculated the opportunity cost for carriers during periods of surging volume, and the cost of detention became evident.

The average load paid $2.03/mile at peak, and the average length of haul clocked in at around 550 miles, or one day, of transit. According to Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) data housed inside FreightWaves’ SONAR, the average was 3.73 loads per truck per week in 2018.

That leaves room for at least 1.27 more loads per week or another 698.5 miles at $2.03/mile, adding up to an extra $1,417 per week, according to Strickland.

(CHART: TCA DATA INSIDE FREIGHTWAVES’ SONAR)

(CHART: TCA DATA INSIDE FREIGHTWAVES’ SONAR)

“That additional revenue is really critical for small carriers,” Trucker Tools CEO Prasad Gollapalli said. “This additional income would put them in a better place than having to scramble for other financial sources,” adding that Trucker Tools’ platform enables drivers and brokers to accurately track and provide proof of detention time.

Driving down detention time results in increased capacity without adding any new assets, which can have significant ramifications for both carriers and shippers.

Gollapalli said the increased capacity that would result from decreased detention would benefit carriers because, even though they would make less money per load, they would move more loads.

“If a carrier has a driver is sitting detained at a shipper’s location, and they know that is going to happen, the next time they pick a load from that shipper, they will try to add that detention cost into the cost of moving the freight,” Gollapalli said. “They have to go through a lot of negotiations, and if detention time comes down, they don’t have to do those things, which is good for them.”

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Keeping drivers from sitting in docks all day also increases driver satisfaction and works to reduce driver turnover.

“For a carrier, the ideal thing is being able to use their assets. Detention time doesn’t get them very excited because the truck is sitting idle at a shipper’s location,” Gollapalli said. “It also puts additional stress on the drivers because they are just sitting there and not doing anything. Drivers like to drive. They don’t want to be just sitting in the truck.”

Excessive detention time puts unnecessary additional stress on drivers because they then have to rush to deliver a load on time without running out of hours. This is both a safety risk and contributes to driver turnover, according to Gollapalli. He emphasized that Trucker Tools’ platform has tools that allow drivers and brokers to accurately track, measure and provide proof of detention time.

“For shippers, increasing capacity is really big because it can bring down rates. In 2018, we saw a huge spike in rates, and having additional capacity could quickly reduce those rates,” Gollapalli said. “More importantly, shippers are looking for predictability in the supply chain so they can confidently guarantee a short shipment window.”

Kingsgate Logistics Vice President of Strategic Development Tom Curee agreed that shippers should be motivated to drive down detention time because it threatens the consistency they rely on to get loads moved efficiently.

“Shippers want consistency. They want someone they can trust to move their freight,” Curee said. “If we can collaboratively work to address detention, creating guidelines that work to meet everyone’s expectations, we reduce not only rates, but we reduce risk. We have people who are familiar with your business, your commodity and your dock procedures constantly moving your freight.”

Detention has a domino effect on the supply chain, driving up rates and leaving both carriers and shippers waiting.

“For shippers, that detention that is happening on the back-end is delaying the truck they’re waiting for on the front-end,” Curee said. “It impacts the entire supply chain, whether you’re the creator of the ingredients or the receiver of the ingredients.”

When Kingsgate brings in a dedicated carrier, one of the first things they talk about is how long, on average, it takes the truck to get loaded and unloaded. That’s a big factor in that rate determination, according to Curee.

Curee thinks the answer to detention time is in better communication between the various parts of the supply chain.

“There’s technology today that will let you know when your pizza is ready, why can’t we know when the product is actually ready to be loaded from the dock? We do a lot with appointment scheduling, and while we may put appointments on the schedule, it doesn’t mean that the product is ready at that time,” Curee said. “I think it comes down to finding different ways to communicate with everyone throughout the supply chain.”

Curee predicted that a core group of people committed to solving that problem will be what finally brings the conversation together and creates change across the industry.