Three things you never knew about Time Slot Management

03/24/2023 | 4 min

There’s an old saying: a man with one watch knows the time. A man with two is never sure.  

When it comes to keeping trucks on time at warehouses or distribution centres, keeping everything on time is more complex than checking your watch, but the effect is the same. The inherent organisational complexity of these systems requires the latest technology to keep everyone in sync and on time.  

Time Slot Management is a tool to help organise warehouse resources by managing ETAs, setting loading or unloading times, and tracking paperwork, among other tasks. But there’s a lot you may not know about this increasingly essential technology.  

Here are three aspects of Time Slot Management and dock scheduling that just might transform your warehouses and distribution centres. 

Wait times and costs add up quicker than you think

44% of warehouses have an average wait time between 60 and 120 minutes. 

According to a recent survey, the average waiting time for drivers — that is, the time spent between checking into the warehouse and actually loading or unloading their truck — is 70 minutes. 

That is not only time lost, it’s also a waste of resources: the driver’s time, idling costs, and missed time on the road.

So why is it so hard to predict accurate arrivals and funnel carriers swiftly through loading and unloading?  

The most common cause is drivers arriving at unexpected times, leading to unexpected peaks and warehouse congestion. There are many reasons a truck may arrive late — traffic on the road, construction, and a myriad of other factors affect arrival times — but with proper planning and up-to-date ETAs, yard managers can better plan resources to mitigate congestion and reduce waiting times.

Change happens — but together we can reduce the impact

11% of loadings or unloading need to be rescheduled every day.

Some people believe efficiency depends on having a perfect plan. 

In logistics, we know there is no such thing.  

Traffic jams, missed appointments, inclement weather, and mechanical issues are just a few ways our carefully laid plans can all be ruined.  

For warehouse and yard managers, the best solution is not to double-down on planning, but to focus on replanning — and that requires working together across the supply chain to improve communication and coordination. 

The network effect kicks in when the entire supply chain technology ecosystem work together to optimise performance, reducing waiting times, optimising routes, and ultimately reducing Carbon emissions.  

In this context, dock scheduling is just one part of this greater network effect — but that should in no way diminish its importance. If the network effect is able to provide greater transparency and accuracy around loading and unloading, Time Slot Management is what enables yard operators to put that knowledge to good use.  

Today, fewer than 6% of warehouses are able to reschedule loads automatically.  

Time Slot Management provides the technology necessary to transform data into cost savings.  

Value is won — or lost — in real time

60% of warehouses do integrate real-time data into their Time Slot Management tool. 

The best information is useless if you get it too late. And when it comes to warehouse management, ETAs have a shorter shelf life than ice cream. 

To fully experience the benefits of Time Slot Management, we need to couple that dock scheduling technology with the power of real-time visibility. This data integration allows for better tracking of assets on the move, updating yard managers on early or later arrivals while automatically adjusting dock scheduling and reallocating resources.  

Survey respondents who integrated real-time data into their Time Slot Management saw their wait times go down by an average of 61 minutes.  

This is a win-win-win: optimised warehouse management, reduced costs associated with waiting, and increased carrier satisfaction. 

The future of Time Slot Management 

Congestion at a warehouse can cause a lot of stress for shippers, recipients, carriers, warehouse workers, and drivers, resulting in increased costs associated with wait times and demurrage charges. However, a time slot management application, especially when used together with real-time visibility tools, can significantly improve outcomes.  

The future of time slot management applications hinges on the use of real-time data to improve ETAs which will increase efficiencies during the check-in, loading, unloading, and departure processes. 

For even more great insights into how time slot management and dock scheduling have evolved to incorporate real-time data and the network effect, read the full white paper: Leveraging Real-Time Data and the Network Effect for Next Level Time Slot Management. 


How does your yard measure up?

Get a free health check on the state of your operations with our Dock Scheduling Assessment and level up your yard management. Answer four short questions and get personalized recommendations, including how to decrease waiting times, reduce manual effort, avoid demurrage costs, and more.

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