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US truck dwell times declining, but detention still a problem

via William B. Cassidy, Senior Editor | May 29, 2020 5:15PM EDT

Truck driver detention times that soared in March may have dropped as demand for essential goods eased in April and May, but truck drivers, carriers, and shippers haven’t stopped searching for solutions to a problem that cuts into available capacity and frustrates truck drivers.

Those solutions will inevitably involve technology that better tracks the movement of trucks and the time they spend at shipping and receiving facilities, helping carriers, brokers, and shippers, more precisely identify when and where excessive driver detention is taking place.

In some states where volumes have increased since the beginning of May, truck dwell time at pickup and delivery sites has dropped 10 to 20 percent, according to Fourkites. That’s highly unusual, and probably related to the pandemic, the supply chain visibility provider said.

When demand for essential goods soared in March, “We heard of wait times as long as 24 hours” to load or unload a truck, which is also highly unusual during “normal” times, said Glenn Koepke, vice president of network enablement at FourKites. “It was just, ‘Get the truck to our facility and we’ll unload it when we get to it.’”

As panic-buying subsided in April and May, “businesses have been able to correct course,” he said. “Companies have had about six weeks to get their workforce in better alignment (with volumes), they’ve improved their driver check-in processes, and they’ve been able to minimize dwell.”

Better tracking of detention

Technology is likely to be part of the solution, whether it’s software that helps shippers allocate labor and other resources more efficiently or a database that helps trucking firms better identify problematic pickup and delivery sites and calculate just how much time is being lost there.

That’s the goal of Kevin Nadeau, founder and CEO of True Load Time, a Greenville, South Carolina-based software firm that is building a database of arrival and departure information from shipping and receiving locations that can be mined by trucking companies.

“Truckload detention was always a thorn in my side at most of my operations,” over a 24-year career in shipping and trucking, Nadeau told “You build a route plan based on a two-hour window, and then that goes out the window when that wait turns into six hours.”

True Load Time, now in its beta phase of development, is an aggregated, anonymized database with information on more than 5,000 facilities and docks, mostly in the Southeast, Nadeau said. He plans to expand nationwide by partnering with carriers and other technology providers.

“We’re neither a carrier nor broker, we’re a content holder,” he said. “We want people to be able to bring this detention data into their systems and use it when they’re building lanes and routes, when they’re responding to their next RFP (request for proposal) from a customer.”

For motor carriers, the ability to use such data “is going to be a great driver retention tool,” Nadeau said. “And it will help hold some of these locations accountable.”

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