Using TMS to DOCK-ument Effectively

My previous article posted earlier this year discussed some of the functionality, and the primary reasons, for which companies will elect to utilize a Transportation Management System (TMS). Let’s talk now about an additional component of TMS and how it connects across the organization.

A TMS may offer a dock management tool. Some may think it is “a nice extra”, but not that important in regards to overall functionality or essential to the business. Let’s look at how it may be used as an effective tool in your organization.

All inbound and outbound delivery appointments can be entered in the dock management application. It’s important to capture as much information as possible, such as trailer number and the number of pallets being delivered or loaded out for effective labor management. Perhaps you want to capture driver names and identification information so staff knows who is expected on property. It’s recommended that contact information for the carrier be captured, particularly for those carriers for which your organization does not control the freight. This could prove useful in the event that you need to contact the carrier if they are late with their load or, should a disaster or weather event arise, it may be necessary to implement business continuity processes, which should include the ability to contact all carriers to reschedule appointments or divert freight as needed. Capturing the seal number may be relevant for comparison with the original bill of lading, especially if tampering of the load is ever suspected. If loads require temperature control, then you may also want to capture the temperature reading of the trailer upon arrival to be unloaded or loaded.

We talked about capturing the appointment time. It is also quite relevant to capture the actual arrival and departure time. If you utilize a guard shack, be cognizant of the fact that the time they record a driver checking in or out may vary from the actual completion of loading or unloading the carrier. The Shipping and Receiving teams need to record the actual time the driver backed into the dock and what time the load or unload was complete. This information is imperative in validating whether detention fees are owed or not and monitoring carrier performance. Should there be loads not controlled by your organization, this also allows you the insight of what carriers are being utilized by vendors and how their performance relates to your contracted partners.

For inbound loads, clearance verification for items that require approval or release from government agencies should also be captured.

On outbound loads, be sure to capture the seal number placed on the outbound trailer or container.

With the visibility of the inbound loads, it also allows your organization to be a good partner and effectively utilize those carriers on outbound loads. This allows for operational efficiency and, typically, reduced costs from the carriers.

Effectively utilizing a dock management tool can play a significant role in managing an organization’s operation and expenditures. As indicated, it can assist with labor management, business continuity, security procedures, quality and regulatory compliance, and controlling costs. Perhaps a dock management tool is an essential “must have”.


To review the previous article regarding TMS, click here: