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Detention and Chronic Delays at the Consignee

September 2016

In our last blog, Detaining Detention: The Source of Chronic Delays, we discussed the issue of chronic delays and detention at the shipper’s loading dock and how it is causing great frustration for carriers and impacting reputations for shippers.  With the much publicized capacity shortage soon to come, compounded by the stricter federal regulations, carriers cannot afford to send their drivers to a shipper who will routinely detain them for extensive lengths of time.  Chronic delays and detention is many times rooted in a shipper’s lack of respect for the driver’s time.  When shippers recognize everyone’s time is valuable and should be respected, they are becoming a Preferred Shipper and therefore a part of the solution for our industry. 

In this blog, we will discuss how lengthy delays and detention at the Consignee are equally as detrimental for our industry and how we can work to resolve it.  As established prior, carriers are now extremely selective on which shippers they service and which receivers they deliver to.  Twenty years ago, capacity was in abundance and carriers were not in a position to be so selective on which shippers and receivers they worked with.  Although detention was still occurring, it was not as visible and therefore, not as detrimental as it is today.  Additionally, as the industry has moved to asset tracking, carriers are not only documenting the shippers that hold them up, but the consignees as well.    

The most important commodity for carriers and drivers alike is time – “time is money,” we’ve all heard, but for a driver, “a mile is money.”  Drivers are paid based on the miles they drive – the longer they sit, waiting for a receiver to unload them, the more money they lose.  The new ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices), set to begin in 2017, will require all drivers to log “on duty not driving” while waiting at the dock.  You can imagine how this new regulation will impact a driver’s paycheck when they have to log their duty status as “on duty not driving” for 5 hours or more at the receiver’s dock.  Those 5 hours could represent 250 miles, lost.  In addition, when a driver is detained beyond a reasonable timeframe at a receiver, it affects their ability to make their next appointment.  Although carriers get paid detention the majority of the time, the compensation is often insufficient compared to the next load they missed because of the long delay.  Carriers and drivers alike want to drive, not wait.   We all understand there are uncontrollable circumstances, despite proper planning.  However, in the everyday operations, void of exceptions, consignees need to recognize everyone’s time is valuable.   

Similar to shippers, receivers face repercussions from chronic delays through poor reputations and financial penalties; many times those penalties accrue to the shipper.  When there is constant congestion and delay at the receiver’s dock, intensified by the lack of communication, a receiver quickly develops a certain reputation that spreads.  It is critical for receivers to value and respect everyone’s time because it will help resolve one of the several issues that surround our industry.  As important as it is for shippers to value and respect a driver’s time, it is equally important that their receivers do the same.  The efforts of a preferred shipper could very well be neutralized if their customer does not value and respect a driver’s time with equal regard as the shipper.  Many times, carriers mitigate the risk and expense of sending valuable drivers to an unproductive receiver by raising specific rates for shippers.  Despite the conscious efforts of a shipper to treat drivers as a valuable team member, they can still quite possibly experience the repercussions of their customers’ lack of respect for the driver and his time.  

Consignees need to understand the risks to the shipper by delaying trucks.  It is critical that these receivers recognize how their actions affect the shippers.  Carriers are under tremendous pressure to comply with stricter federal regulations, while also retaining their drivers.  Although these regulations, such as ELD implementation and updated Hours of Service, are intended to benefit our industry, they have proven to be fairly burdensome all the same.  The new ELD (Electronic Logging Devices) mandate will be the most substantial of these changes.  The sole purpose of the new ELD’s is to track the actual 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.  Gone are the days of logging waiting times as “off duty.”  Delays may affect drivers’ ability to make their next appointment times if the available hours were all depleted at the delivery dock.  The issue of detention is often rooted in the lack of respect for the carrier’s and the driver’s time; receivers need to join shippers in valuing everyone’s time for the sake of a successful industry. 

Preferred shippers should communicate with their customers on how to adjust operations in order to resolve the chronic delays and detention at their docks.  Shippers can speak with their carriers and request delivery data on all their consignees.  These metrics can give shippers valuable insight into the delay patterns at their receivers’ facilities.  Shippers can share data with their customers relative to detention in order to show how their operations are affecting everyone in the supply chain and how adjusting operations will greatly benefit them as a receiver as well as the industry as a whole.  Preferred shippers need to ensure their Consignees have respect for carriers and drivers as they do to mitigate the massive capacity shortage that is barreling towards us.      

At the end of the day, every single person’s time is valuable and we all must work together to address the new time restraints within our industry.  Understanding this truth will pave the way to finding a viable solution for the detention problem.