Are your planners still using Excel spreadsheets to schedule dock appointment times with carriers? Are they swamped with emails and phone calls to make or change appointments? Does anyone really know which truck will turn up at which dock and when? If so, it’s time for online dock appointment scheduling, which will not only optimize your planning but all your logistics operations.
Cloud-based dock appointment scheduling gives all stakeholders access to the schedule from any location at any time – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Everyone authorized – from the supervisor on the dispatch floor to an external carrier’s planner – has the most up-to-date schedule available. In other words, there is a single source of truth.
Additionally, cloud-based dock appointment scheduling allows suppliers, carriers and customers to see which time slots are available and select the one best for their schedule. If they want to adjust their time, update the booking information or cancel the booking, they can.
They just need to do it before the closing date of the schedule which you easily control. They no longer need to call or email your planners which saves valuable time and reduces the risk of errors and misunderstandings. On top of this, all those concerned receive an automatic email notification of any changes to the schedule.
Online dock scheduling supports optimization of the entire logistics operation because the tool takes into account all manner of restrictions and preconditions when assigning trucks or transport orders to docks and time slots. Examples include reserving docks for inbound or outbound shipments, for reusable transport packaging or LTL loads, or loading and unloading products through docks that are located closest to their regular storage locations to minimize the distances covered by forklift operators.
It is also possible to optimize the deployment of people and resources. For instance, if there are only enough forklifts available to load or unload a maximum of eight trucks at a time, the system will schedule no more than eight docks to be occupied simultaneously.
Safety can also be a reason to choose an online dock scheduling solution. You easily impose limitations when assigning transport orders to docks. Think of two different types of dangerous goods which may not be loaded or unloaded at adjacent docks. With the limitations imposed you avoid these potential manual errors which can have severe consequences.
Another potential risk is having people walk around in the yard with trucks moving around. During the booking or at the gate you can request the driver’s mobile phone number. After arrival on-site the driver will get a text message alert when it is their turn to go to the dock. That way, no one has to go searching for the driver in the hectic yard or the canteen, which improves safety and efficiency.
Dock scheduling simplifies communication throughout the chain. This enables all connected parties to easily connect to the schedule but also to share documents such as packing lists, customs documents, certificates or images. And because the documents are stored in the cloud, it also serves as an online archive.
Probably one of the most important aspects is the ability to record every step of the process. This enables progress of the dock operations to be monitored by employees and partners, giving them insight into the real-time status of each transport order. As a result, your suppliers, carriers and employees in your own customer service department can see whether a truck is waiting, is being loaded or already left and on-time or if there was a delay.
Monitoring every process step also forms the basis for measuring and analyzing your performance. How long do trucks have to wait upon arrival before accessing the dock? How long does the loading/unloading process take per truck? Perhaps even more important is the performance per supplier or carrier. You instantly see exactly which parties invariably arrive late for their time slot and can raise the issue with them to improve your performance.