faster Cleveland trucking turnaround

Reducing Cleveland Trucking Turnaround Times, Dock Delays, and Detention

Ohio companies looking to prioritize supply chain efficiency in 2023 would do well to aim at least part of their focus on reducing Cleveland trucking turnaround times, dock delays, and detention issues.

The U.S. port surge that threw international supply chains out of whack for the better part of three years during the pandemic is finally beginning to subside. However, analysts with the Journal of Commerce say that marine terminals (which effectively became container storage facilities when overwhelmed by cargo surge) aren’t prepared for another wave – and that’s bound to happen again at some point.

As Cleveland trucking experts, we recognize that while improved port procedures are central to fixing problems stemming from cargo surges, it’s also important for logistics, delivery, and warehouse operators to prioritize streamlining their own practices. This is especially true given that last year, companies looking to avoid ongoing supply chain bottlenecks opted to ship tens of thousands of containers via truck rather than rail – despite higher costs – because it was largely deemed more reliable. Rail industry setbacks like shortages in labor, equipment, and warehouse space aren’t going away anytime soon. That means we’ll continue to see a growing demand for trucking capacity – and lower turnaround times will be more pivotal than ever.

What Exactly Is Cleveland Trucking Turnaround?

Trucking turnaround time is one of the main performance indicators used to measure efficiency of port logistics and drayage services (transport of freight from an ocean port to a destination). It’s generally defined as the window of time a trucker spends at a terminal, port, or customer pickup area – from gate entry to gate exit. The pickup/drop-off process involves loading, unloading, inspecting, and completing proper documentation.

All this can be impacted by dock delays (particularly when there’s a cargo surge). But optimal trucking turnaround times aren’t solely the responsibility of port service workers. Trucking companies must prioritize efficiency at all junctures – not only at ocean ports, but on the road, at inland warehouses, while navigating distribution centers, etc. This is why it’s key to work with a Cleveland trucking operator that knows what they’re doing, recognizes their role in meeting your deadlines, and takes its professional relationships and responsibilities seriously.

While it’s true we’re seeing an ebb in cargo surge at the moment, no operation that relies on efficient supply chains can afford to presume it won’t happen again – perhaps sooner than later. What’s more, we’re unlikely anytime soon to see a lull in other factors impacting delays and detention – including rising fuel costs, labor shortages, and a boom in online spending. Demand for trucking capacity is only going to increase.

How Detention Impacts Trucking Turnaround Times – and Bottom Lines

Detention delays occur when a trucker is held up by terms or circumstances outside their control – usually due to inefficiencies at the dock, warehouse, customer facility, or distribution center.

In a recent report by the American Transportation Research Institute, truck detention and delays at customer facilities ranked in the top 5 industry concerns for U.S. truck drivers. Nearly one-third of drivers reported increases in detention time delays of 6 hours or more over the last 5 years. The most significant delays are reported by those in refrigerated trailers, followed by those operating bulk/food trucks, tanker/hazmat vehicles, dry vans, and finally flatbed trucks. Such delays are also more common with full truckload shipments compared to less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments.

These issues can be exacerbated when delays start running up against hours of service regulations – the maximum amount of hours truckers are allowed to work by federal law. Driver compensation for excess detention can range anywhere from $10/hour to $100/hour (most in the $50+ hour range). The longer truckers are unnecessarily detained at a port or customer site, the worse their overall turnaround times are going to be. Perhaps even more concerning: It’s also associated with a heightened risk of truck crashes. The longer hours a trucker works, the more fatigued they are, and the greater their risk of an accident.

The U.S. Department of Transportation reports detention nationally costs somewhere in the ballpark of $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion each year.

As for the root of this problem, it’s varied. Many drivers point to apathetic or untrained dock employees, double-booked docks, lack of adequate dock space, and issues with paperwork. Lack of trucker parking is also a problem (something even the White House has acknowledged is an issue). Truckers who aren’t allowed to park on site must wait outside the customer facility – sometimes miles away, in areas that aren’t exactly equipped for it. This can further exacerbate delays as well as compromise driver safety.

Improved scheduling and planning, longer hours, more employees/space/equipment, and better employee training were all cited as possible solutions to shortening dock delays, excessive detention, and truck turnaround times.

Enhancing inbound and outbound logistics strategies to maintain reasonable trucking turnaround times is going to prove increasingly important to companies hoping to retain their competitive edge.

Companies that partner with a third-party logistics company may see faster – and more tangible – results on this front.

How Trusted Ohio Truck Firms Can Reduce Turnaround Times

Ohio trucking companies generally aren’t in control of things like erratic consumer demand, international cargo surges, or lack of trucker parking. But that doesn’t mean they’re powerless.

Established transportation companies know that when these issues can’t be avoided, there are still ways to prepare and minimize the potential impact for customers.

Such measures include:

  • Upgraded and well-maintained equipment. Older trucks and monitoring equipment will be vulnerable to failures, glitches, and breakdowns – which can further exacerbate delays and lengthen Cleveland trucking turnaround times. It’s important that not only is the fleet itself in great shape, but the technology used for transportation GPS and supply chain tracking and forecasting is also up-to-date and keeps pace with ever-evolving logistics insights. Transparency technology can also help set clear expectations and make adjustments as necessary if it seems delays are likely.
  • Smart balance of trucks-to-drivers. This isn’t an exact science, but companies tend to have more drivers than trucks. However, that means any shortage of functioning trucks that can’t be promptly addressed will lead to fewer shipments, higher costs, and longer turnaround times. Trucking companies that keep their fleets in good working order as well as maintain a good truck-to-driver ratio will generally see fewer detention issues.
  • Streamlined administration communication. Communication is central to supply chain efficiency. When you work with a 3PL trucking company with established relationships with local and regional partners, you get the benefit of those longstanding, well-oiled workflow and communication processes.
  • Investment in experienced, well-trained drivers. Truck driving is often a more skilled profession than some people might presume. It’s not just about being safe behind the wheel. It’s about being effective with organization, time management, communication, and preparation. When delays occur, truckers who are prepared, properly trained, polite, and persistent are often rewarded with lower turnaround times.

If you have questions about how working with a dedicated 3PL trucking company in Northeast Ohio can help you reduce your trucking turnaround times and detention costs, we can help.

For information on Ohio Trucking Services in Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio, Contact On Time Delivery & Warehouse by calling (440) 826-4630 or send us an email.

Additional Resources:

Driver Detention Impacts on Safety and Productivity, September 2019, American Transportation Research Institute

Reducing external container trucks’ turnaround time in ports: A data-driven approach under truck appointment systems, December 2022, Computers & Electrical Engineering

More Blog Entries:

Why Companies are Increasingly Turning to Cleveland Dedicated Trucking, Nov. 28, 2022, Ohio Truck Company Blog