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Detaining Detention: The Source of Chronic Delays

August 2016

It is no secret that delays at both shippers and consignees is a huge issue, not only for carriers, but for shippers as well.  Initially, carriers seem to be the only ones who experience the abrupt consequences of delayed loading and unloading.  When their drivers must wait well over reasonable time frames at either end, only to receive insufficient compensation in comparison to the load they missed due to their delay, their frustrations continue to mount.  However, shippers and consignees also experience consequences from the detention epidemic in the form of financial penalties and poor reputation.  For the purpose of our article this month, let’s discuss delays on the shipping end.  When there is constant delay and congestion as well as a lack of communication at a shipper’s facility, many times a reputation develops that quickly spreads.  Invariably, this leads to Carriers’ hesitancy towards sending their valuable drivers to a shipper who will not respect their time or well-being.  In the midst of an ever increasing capacity shortage, the availability of trucks is quickly dissipating; shippers who do not actively concern themselves with timely loading will eventually find it difficult to secure trucks for their products.  It is a fact that delayed loading and detention are cultivating a lot of stress in our industry.  Many times a premium is contained in rates for shippers and consignees that fail to timely load or unload trucks.  Considering we are facing a massive capacity crunch, due to Hours of Service and ELD implementation, it is critical that shippers take an active role in resolving the chronic delays at their docks. 

We all understand there are exceptions despite proper planning; certain circumstances are simply out of our control.  However, in the everyday operations, void of exceptions, shippers need to recognize that everyone’s time is valuable.  When shippers make a conscious effort to properly plan and streamline loading and unloading, they are becoming a Preferred Shipper.  If you are a shipper that has perhaps not fully respected your carrier’s delays, then check out our recent white paper, The Road to Becoming a Preferred Shipper, to discover a few pointers on how to properly position yourself in such a way that you become a part of the solution for our industry. 

Twenty years ago, capacity was at its peak and carriers were constantly in competition to earn a shipper’s business.  Although detention was still occurring, it was not as visible and detrimental as it is today.  Capacity is quickly downsizing; the number of available drivers is depleting, which amplifies the pressure carriers are already experiencing due to stricter federal regulations.  Although these regulations are intended to benefit our industry, they have proven to be fairly burdensome all the same.  The new ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) mandate is one of these significant and recent changes.  The sole purpose of the new ELD’s is to track the mobility and duty status of a driver; they have replaced the old pen and paper that drivers used to log their duty status.  The ELD’s serve as a counterpart to the new Hours of Service, another recent change, which defines the legal amount of time drivers can travel and when they are required to rest.  Delays affect drivers’ ability to make their next appointment times because the available hours were all depleted at the loading dock.  The costs and the pressure to comply with these regulations put carriers in a very tight position.  Between driver recruiting costs (average of $6,000) and adhering to stricter federal regulations, carriers cannot afford to send their trucks and drivers to shippers who disregard their time.  The issue of detention is many times rooted in the shipper’s lack of respect for the carrier’s and the driver’s time.  Shippers need to recognize the impact loading delays have on their carriers as well as on themselves and then work to manage operations.     

Being a friendly shipper means you understand the risks of not being a friendly shipper.  Quickly loading and unloading a truck, with the exceptions of uncontrollable circumstances such as a work-in driver, should be standard operations.  Being a friendly shipper means you value your and the driver’s time with equal caliber.  It means you maintain constant and respectful communication with transportation providers on load requirements and time updates.  Ensuring your facilities are driver-friendly, equipped with full bathroom access, accommodating breakrooms, local parking areas, and even complementary internet access.  Adjusting operations will increase your ability to secure suitable capacity in the midst of the oncoming shortage.  Test test test

At the end of the day, we are all people and we all deserve to be treated as such.  Understanding this truth will pave the way to finding a viable solution for the detention problem, along with several others that plague our industry. 

In our next blog post we will discuss delays at the consignee and the effect this is having on our supply chain.