Truck Scheduling vs First Come, First Served

Truck Scheduling vs First Come, First Served

by Alan Podufaly

I have been a part of companies that have inbound trucks scheduled and those that do not, let’s look at these models closer. Most Facilities have a finite number of doors to operate out of and floor space is at a premium. Many warehouses have defined hours for shipping and receiving; other operations are blended.

Today we will look at the pros and cons of Scheduled Appointments.

Pros to a schedule:

  • Associate schedules are easier to manage. You can plan and schedule your workforce in order to be sized right for the entire inbound shift.
  • Minimize overtime. Since you know your workload daily, you can stagger your Associates to cover the inbound shift.
  • ETA can be communicated. If you are holding outbound trucks waiting on product you have a very good idea when the inbound truck will arrive. You can inform your customer when the delivery will arrive at their dock. If you are not holding delivery trucks but are loading second-run trucks, you will know approximately when those truck will load.
  • Managing truck traffic at your Facility is easier.

Cons to a schedule:

  • Hiccups can disrupt. Since we are only looking at fresh produce receiving, it is inevitable there will be product that does not meet your expectations. When this occurs a process needs to be met. The procurement team is advised of the problem. They in turn have to reach out to the Vendor for the next step. Do they need a USDA or can the product be rejected? When this occurs, the truck is typically held or the product is held for disposition. Either way, the door is tied up and this sends your schedule in part into a tizzy.
  • Penalty Fees. Since many Facilities do not hesitate to impose a late fee to trucks not meeting schedule appointment, it opens the real possibility for the Trucking Company to impose a demurrage fee as well.
  • Timing. Produce loads are not one size fits all. Some are straight pull offs and others breakdown for example from 22 pallets into 45 pallets depending on the mix. Many scheduling systems are manned during the day so there can be some logic to the schedule and unloading windows for the designated door expanded. After hours the automated system does not know what is on the truck so it schedules as it is programmed.

To sum it up, a Facility with ample doors and an efficient team can adhere to a schedule easily. The occasional truck with issues can be held and other doors can be placed into operation at least temporarily to maintain the on time flow.  The Facility that is tight with space and challenged with only a few doors may want to look at a split between first come first serve and a schedule.

My next article will go over first come, first serve model’s pros and cons.

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Jennifer Lawson

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