Shared truckload is gaining industry momentum, thanks to the multitude of benefits the model offers shippers and carriers alike. This uptick in shared loads should prompt companies to consider how their dock operations can be optimized for maximum efficiency.
Despite the potential for higher pay and more consistent loads, some carriers are hesitant to get involved with shared truckload. This is partially due to hassles – like long wait times and uncontrollable delays – that threaten their profitability. These hassles are often offset by the method’s perks, but eliminating them altogether could prompt more companies to consider shared truckload an optimal method.
When drivers set out to deliver multiple partial loads while utilizing a 53-foot trailer, they are often forced to wait in long lines of trucks with full trailers to unload. This is inconvenient and frustrating for drivers, and leads to delays along the entire shared route. Beyond simple delays, if drivers are detained at shipping facilities too long, they risk running out of hours. This can push other deliveries on the route out by as much as a full day.
“I don’t think it is fair to categorize a driver with a 53-foot trailer as truckload immediately. If you are delivering six pallets, you should be loaded and unloaded the same way as a less-than-truckload (LTL) driver or consolidator,” Flock Freight Vice President of Carrier Sales Kevin McMaster said. “If you’re doing a three pick-up/three drop-off route, you shouldn’t have 12 hours of loading and unloading.”
Adjusting dock operations to give shared truckloads a “fast pass” during delivery windows could help reduce the cost of a shared truckload by helping the driver use his or her time efficiently, while also improving on-time delivery performance. This method also offers benefits for the shipper, increasing dock efficiency and clearing out space quickly.
Flock Freight has been talking to its customers and carrier partners about the possibility of a fast-pass system. According to McMaster, feedback has been largely positive from both shippers and carriers. Under a fast-pass system, companies would mark their trucks in such a way that dock workers could identify them as shared truckloads and expedite the process. McMaster is hopeful that this system could lead to wait times as low as one hour, cutting the typical two-hour appointment window in half and offering a guarantee.
“We want to get to a point where we can guarantee short loading and unloading windows. If it only works some of the time, then it might as well work none of the time. Trust in this business is so important. When we roll this out, we want to ensure that it is bulletproof,” McMaster said. “It truly is about making the whole freight cycle associated with any multi-stop load more attractive and more advantageous for all parties involved.”
McMaster’s goal when enacting a fast-pass system is to help carriers and shippers take advantage of the benefits of shared truckload without putting more pressure on drivers or dock workers. He envisions a system that makes the process easier for everyone involved, not just one party.