The transport and logistics sector across Europe often emphasises the need for rapid digitalisation of the supply chain. And indeed, as a result of the disruption caused by the pandemic and then the outbreak of war in Ukraine, spending on digitalisation has jumped. According to calculations by the prestigious ReportLinker agency, spending on supply chain digitalisation will increase by an average of 10% per year. In day-to-day practice, however, the automation of logistics processes is sometimes mixed. The long queues in front of warehouses across Europe are a prime example of this.
In fact, in Poland and many other countries, participants in the supply chain rarely use the time slot management tool, even though it might seem to be an essential tool in the entire trading system. According to a survey conducted a few months ago by the Trans.eu platform, only 14% of Polish entrepreneurs use a system to manage time slots. This is not much, considering that the implementation of such a system is not complicated and the benefits are almost immediate. This is the case, for example, with the Dock Scheduler solution, a system for the time slot booking.
- Tomasz Łyszega
- Global Account Manager at CargoON
- I talk to manufacturers from various industries and wherever the Dock Scheduler solution has been implemented, throughput in the warehouse has improved, unnecessary nervousness at the unloading ramp has disappeared and relations with carriers have improved. Such a system should be of interest to everyone involved in the supply chain.
🟢 Greater calmness on the ramp
Using the Dock Scheduler instantly enforces greater time discipline on both carriers and their customers, i.e. production and distribution companies. This is because the use of a time slot management system, such as the Dock Scheduler, not only increases the handling capacity of warehouse in real terms, but also influences relations with carriers. Increasingly, the latter decide to cooperate with the shipper only if they are not doomed to wait for hours in front of the unloading ramp.
Better cooperation between transport companies and their orderers is being emphasised by carrier organisations throughout Europe, because the problem does not only concern Poland. – Problems with the coordination of loading and unloading schedules occur very frequently in Spain. This situation generates a loss for the transport company on the one hand, and puts the drivers in a difficult situation on the other. It is not uncommon for them to be forced to wait for service in places without adequate sanitary conditions – explains José María Quijano Riestra, Secretary General of the Confederación Española de Transporte de Mercancías.
🟢Transport companies protest
The problem of uncoordinated deliveries and long waits for loading or unloading has also been taken very seriously by the IRU, the International Road Transport Union. Representatives of this organisation met recently in Algeciras to discuss with the International Association of Road Transport in Spain (ASTIC) and the European Shippers’ Council (ESC) how to improve this situation. The IRU Charter being circulated to European shippers is intended to help with this.
– The main goal of the Charter is to ensure better treatment of drivers at loading and unloading places, which will improve their working conditions, significantly increase operational efficiency and eventually make the profession more attractive. We hope to gather many more signatories in the near future – says Raluca Marian, IRU representative to the European Union. The Charter’s provisions mention, for example, providing flexible slots for load collection and delivery preparation, taking into account external factors that may affect operations.
However, it is difficult to talk about flexibility without the use of systems such as the Dock Scheduler. They avoid the chaos that arises when too many trucks appear in front of a warehouse. This is especially the case if there is no developed loading infrastructure or sufficient warehouse staff. However, despite the long waiting times for loading or collection of deliveries, it is difficult to persuade manufacturers and distributors to implement a professional slot management system.
🟢The problem with retail chains
It is good that some European companies use their own bespoke solutions for slot booking. However, it must be remembered that in-house solutions have many limitations. Especially in the case of any changes in the supply chain, when, for example, a new sub-supplier or carrier appears. – It is difficult to persuade partners in the logistics network to use our customised time slot management. This is because it involves additional responsibilities and overcoming technological barriers. When using universal systems such as the Dock Scheduler, all barriers disappear – explains Tomasz Łyszega, supply chain expert at CargoON.
Despite the obvious and almost immediately apparent benefits, shippers are delaying the implementation of systems for time slot management. This is difficult to explain logically, as the barrier is certainly neither the price nor the possible difficulty of implementing the system. According to most experts, the problem lies in the mentality of many managers and business owners. Italian drivers, for example, spend nearly 40% of their working time at European ramps – waiting to load or unload – or more than 4 hours and 35 minutes a day. Polish carriers, on the other hand, wait up to three days for grain to be unloaded at ports.
– The biggest problems are posed by large European retail chains that make the carrier wait for hours to unload. It is as if they assume that the long waiting time for the truck to be handled does not bring any loss to the transport company. Often the goods are not unloaded until it is absolutely necessary. This is how international carriers in particular are treated, but also those who do not dare to charge extra for waiting times – reveals David Piras, secretary general of Les Routiers Suisses, the Swiss carriers’ trade union.
🟢 Time is money. Really?
The situation in Switzerland and neighbouring Germany is the most stable in Europe, because there shippers and transport companies use freight software more often. But also in these countries, there are shipments that wait up to 2-3 hours for unloading. In fact, in the whole of Europe, only a few traders and industrial companies have dealt with the problem of queues in front of warehouses. Although all managers constantly say that “time is money”, they somehow fail to see this when it comes to warehouse operations.
Meanwhile, the use of time slot management systems brings specific business results. The systematic management of warehouse scheduling reduces waiting times for loading by up to 70%. In practice, this means greater efficiency in warehouse operations, because with the Dock Scheduler we can better plan the time of unloading and loading. Given the increasing problems in recruiting warehouse staff, only the automation of logistics processes can counteract the queues in front of warehouses.
With the implementation of a time slot management system, the shipper also gains an important ally: the transport company. Faced with the serious challenge of a driver shortage (around 400,000 in Europe), the carrier is increasingly opting for a customer that does not make him wait for hours in front of the warehouse. According to a study by Federtrasporti, an Italian association of carriers and logistics operators, a transport company’s turnover can increase by 15% thanks to a reduction in waiting times at the warehouse ramp. Therefore, everyone benefits from the use of the time slot management system.
🟢 New features in the system
It is also important to bear in mind that the Dock Scheduler is striving to make the work of all links in the supply chain increasingly easy and to enable manufacturers and distributors to make better and better business decisions. What does this mean in practice?
- Paweł Ziaja
- Head of Product Development at CargoON
- We are introducing solutions that will increase the visibility of the various links in the supply chain. Users of the system will gain the ability to manage time slots and forward slot booking request to subsequent business partners. In a nutshell, the platform user can pass the entire process down to their subcontractor, who then selects a carrier from the tens of thousands available in the system.
Soon, the user of the Dock Scheduler platform will also gain a tool which will significantly improve the ability to run business. These are reports that contain important management information, e.g. what time the goods arrived, whether the warehouse started unloading immediately, etc. – The reports will show a true picture of the situation in the supply chain, help improve its work and increase the handling capacity of deliveries, which in turn leads to concrete savings – adds Paweł Ziaja from CargoON.