What is truck detention?
Most shippers and receivers have a window of time to load or unload their trucks when they arrive at a facility. Once that window of time has passed and potentially any grace period, time spent at the facility after that is detention. Since time is money, detention fines are used to counterbalance the delay. Delays can cause the driver to be late to their next stop or even miss a pickup or unloading time entirely, resulting in lost income and potential penalties from that company.
Truck drivers are making money when they’re driving, so it can be very frustrating when they’re stuck sitting at a site waiting. While detention fees help lessen the blow, typically the drivers would have made more money if they could have stayed on schedule.
Detention rates can significantly harm the driver's productivity and compliance with federal regulations. “Hours of service” refers to the amount of time at the maximum that drivers are permitted to be on duty. This specifies their driving time as well as the time indicated for breaks and rest, essentially to ensure that drivers stay awake and alert when they’re on the road. When a driver is stuck waiting at a facility and falls behind schedule, detention eats up the time that was already designated for loading and unloading shipments.
Consistently failing to keep drivers on schedule can be very damaging to your business's reputation. Drivers claim that customer actions such as appointment issues, poor structure, and lack of communication often result in detention. Detention fees can range anywhere from $50-$100 per hour, and can quickly add up over time. While there may be factors outside of the facility's control like severe weather or delayed production, facilities do have control over the quality of their communication. The truth is, that competing in this market demands business agility and innovation.
Customers who utilize technology to help them stay well organized and communicate effectively can greatly reduce delays. Not only saving the truck driver from frustration and loss of compensation but also saving the facility from constant fees.
One piece of technology that can be used to improve communication between drivers and facility employees is a visitor management system. While you may not typically think of truck drivers as “visitors” this system can be highly beneficial in communicating directly with each driver and knowing who is at your facility all while maintaining a record of the interaction.
Visitor management systems are typically integrated with a piece of hardware, although this isn’t the ideal display option for the outdoors. Instead we offer a QR code display option that can be printed on any material, in any size, and placed anywhere because it operates without electricity or internet. When a driver arrives at your facility they won’t even need to exit their vehicle to check in!
Most drivers have a company tablet or smartphone on them at all times so their employer can communicate with them. Drivers can simply scan the QR code with their device and enter their truck number or any other information the facility needs to collect. From there, the systems admin can use the VMS to text directly with the driver and communicate instructions.
Some facilities communicate with drivers through a CB radio channel, although this isn’t a terrible option it does require the drivers to listen in on every conversation waiting to hear information that’s relevant to them. Sometimes it can be hard to understand what the person on the other end is saying and details can easily be missed. With a VMS you are only receiving information that is meant directly for you, and it’s documented in print in case the driver needs to refer back to it.
Language barriers and accents can impact communication and create unnecessary confusion and frustration. Using a VMS with multiple languages allows the driver to check in and receive instructions in their preferred language. This eliminates confusion, substantially increases policy adoption and direction following, increases efficiency, and creates a welcoming environment.
Every facility has a different way of documenting what happens each day with its shipping and receiving department. Some facilities may use an excel spreadsheet or have a designated liaison who’s in charge of letting drivers know when a spot is available and keeping the process moving. Visitor management systems replace the need for manual documentation. Instead, the system will automatically keep a record of who arrived at your facility, the company they were with, and what time they arrived and left. Cross-reference check-in logs with your billing statements to verify that a driver was on your premises when they said they were. Integrations may be available with your logistics software.
Truck detention is frustrating for everyone involved and often unavoidable. But if you understand why it happens and how it happens you can find areas for improvement that could make a drastic difference. Communication with truck drivers at your facility needs to be quick and efficient to ensure that they stay on schedule with their route and so that you can avoid driver detention fees. Integrating with a visitor management system can help your reputation, communication, and record keeping.