Shipping Department Scheduling Issues

Lost Time Spent in Shipping

In the trucking world, probably one of the biggest issues between shippers and truck drivers is the shipping/receiving department scheduling. There’s a slew of reasons why a truck driver may get stuck in one place trying to load or unload and it is causing frustration all around.

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration classifies a drivers’ time in 4 blocks: On duty, off duty, driving and sleeping. On duty hours are considered anytime the driver is working and not driving. Paperwork, loading, unloading, waiting for a load, and time spent driving. Drivers are limited in how many hours they can spend on duty in a day or week. Off duty is anytime the driver isn’t sleeping, driving or on duty. Sleeping time is exactly what it says, time spent resting and sleeping in the sleeper berth or other sleeping accommodations.

For those familiar with the trucking industry, one word can get everyone competing for the best (or worst) story – detention. Detention or detention pay refers to a potential payment issued usually to the driver for being stuck at a company’s dock for hours. In most cases there is a couple of hours of grace time, then hopefully detention pay kicks in. But the detention payout is a tangled web, there’s a never ending dispute between the carriers and shippers for actually making the payment happen, and even if it does, the monetary value is most times a drop in the bucket compared to the lost revenue caused by the delay. Detention time is not allowed to be counted as sleeping or off duty. It is simply lost time.

Lost-Time-Spent-Shipping

There are many reasons why a truck driver may get stuck trying to load or unload and it is causing frustration all around.

During a DAT Solutions Survey one owner-operator reported losing two loads, with combined revenue of $1,900, because his truck was detained too long at a receiver’s dock. The survey found the typical claim pays only $30 to $50 per hour of detention time, when a claim is paid. With the ELD’s now in effect, there is no way around recuperating the lost time. The lost loads are also causing panic amongst the brokers and carriers which now have to scramble to come up with a different way to cover the job.

The survey also showed that detention was ranked as one of five leading trucking business problems by 84 percent of the 257 carriers surveyed, including both trucking companies and owner operators. What is interesting is that only 20 percent of the 50 brokers surveyed saw it as a major issue in their business. This is a difference in perception worthy of a thorough discussion. Could this be due to the lack of a federal regulation on the topic? Possibly. A few years back, former FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro was involved with the groundwork of such regulation, but it has lost traction. Today’s federal regulators are arguing that the detention topic can be better resolved by brokers, shippers, and carriers all working together.

The FMCSA has been studying driver detention, or loading and unloading times, for more than a decade, and the findings were pointing out a strong connection between excessive detention times and increased driver fatigue ultimately leading to unsafe behavior. An FMCSA study conducted in 2012 and 2013 and released in 2014 found drivers were detained in one of every 10 stops for an average time of 1.4 hours beyond a two-hour limit.

The two-hour limit seems to be a trucker’s time being used for free, unlike any other industry in US. Not fair, is it?