Delays, Detention, and Drivers

If time is money, detention in the trucking industry is a huge waste of both.

Webster defines “detention” as “the act or fact of detaining or holding back” or “the state of being detained in official custody,” especially as a political prisoner. All in all, this is a word with a negative connotation. The same holds true for the transportation world, where detention, that charge that trucking companies assess when a shipper or receiver holds a truck or trailer beyond a designated time, negatively affects carriers, drivers, and customers. It amounts to a substantial money waster for all parties. So what can be done as a carrier, driver, shipper, or receiver to aid in detention reduction?

First and foremost, all parties involved, carriers, shippers, and customers, need to have an honest discussion about pick-up and delivery procedures, including a thorough review of driver arrival instructions, as well as delivery and receiving hours. It’s essential to discuss hours of service for the driver and to be aware of the fact that the driver’s clock is ALWAYS ticking. Drivers sitting at a location for hours at a time lose revenue, patience, and most of all, productivity!

Once that conversation has occurred, it’s equally important to ensure that the drivers, along with the carrier’s operations team, also have a complete understanding of shipping and receiving procedures. Do not assume that everyone is aware of all of the details. Make it a point to communicate these details in writing rather than just through verbal instructions.

It’s difficult to manage what you can’t measure, so make dwell time/detention reduction a KPI to review with your carrier on a weekly or monthly basis. Set a goal for detention as well as a due date to see progress on its reduction. Since detention is disheartening and costly for all involved, especially for drivers, it’s important that you become part of the solution in helping your carriers retain their drivers and in ensuring capacity for your goods.

Carriers, for their part, could re-examine driver salary and add pay for detention time to cover a driver’s lost pay due to lost time. They could incent drivers that have found ways to reduce delay/detention and get them to share their knowledge with the rest of the organization. Carriers could also work with shippers or receivers to discuss potential appointment times, and the possibility of after-hours receiving or shipping.

The reality is that there are many ways to tackle the delay/detention problem, especially when customers and carriers come together and set goals to reduce the issue. So you need to ask yourself, if time really is money, what is your time worth? Reducing detention positively affects the bottom line; for carriers, customers, and drivers.

What is your company doing to reduce detention time? Let us know.

Victoria Kresge

About Victoria Kresge

Victoria Kresge is Vice President of Dedicated Services for NationaLease, and is responsible for growing the organization’s Dedicated Services business, both with new prospects and existing customers. Krege’s experience includes serving as Director of Dedicated Sales for C. R. England and managing and growing the tri-state NY, NJ, and PA sales markets for Roadway Express.

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