The 1x1 of time slot management

Saving time at the loading bay: That is the goal of well thought-out time slot management. And yet there are constantly long waiting times during which the truck is stationary, resources are consumed and the possible turnover is reduced. Those who find intelligent ways to optimize their Time slot management reduce idle times and subsequently demurrage - and increase the productivity of their logistics.  

However, classic time slot management software often fails to deliver what it promises in practice. We will also address these points in this article.

Table of Contents:

  1. Definition: What is Time slot management?
  1. Challenges of time window management
  1. Goals of optimized time window management
  1. Time slot management optimize with software: TradeLink  

Definition: What is Time slot management?

With Time slot management is used in logistics to describe the organization of all loading and unloading processes at the loading ramp. Another term for this is therefore ramp management or - in terms of coordination - time slot control. As the name suggests, the focus here is on correctly planning the times at which trucks arrive at Sites for loading or unloading. If too many arrive at once, not all of them can be served at the same time and there will be waiting times. If too few arrive, resources remain unused on site and indirect costs are incurred.  

Accordingly, the Time slot management deals with the optimized planning of time slots for trucks to be loaded or unloaded. Companies that have their Time slot management under control can save 30 % in costs for incoming and outgoing goods processes, reduce demurrage charges by 60 % and achieve a 20 % higher storage capacity - while at the same time increasing satisfaction for all parties involved.  

Challenges of time slot management

However, this is not easy: On average, companies in logistics have to coordinate with 120 internal and external partners, such as suppliers or freight forwarders. The constant communication with all partners, the fine-tuning of the respective time slot and, in particular, the detection and mediation of possible delays or failures make Time slot management a Herculean task.

This is reinforced by the ever-increasing demands of consumers: Same day delivery, the production of special designs and the desire for sustainability demand precise top performance from all involved. There is no room for error. And yet the potential for this is great, communication often still takes place via e-mail, telephone and fax. This not only results in a considerable amount of coordination work, but also in the fact that it is only possible to be informed about the current status in real time to a limited extent.

Even when the information reaches the warehouse contact, he first has to pass it on again to the employees at the loading docks. Chaos is practically preprogrammed.  

Communication via e-mail, telephone and fax prevents the exchange of information in real time.

Communication at the loading bay

But the challenges don't end with passing on information within the company: What happens, for example, if a driver doesn't drive to the loading gate assigned to him - but to another one that is actually intended for another truck driver? If language barriers are added to this, a lot of time can be lost until everyone is standing correctly.

Uncertain arrival time traffic to be passed through

Even if you plan time slot precisely in advance, traffic in Germany can throw a spanner in the works at any time. The infrastructure is already overloaded, plus there is damage to the highways or the possibility of accidents, which in turn result in traffic jams. If trucks are considerably late, this throws the planning into disarray and delays occur at all points.

Occupational safety poses danger

Beyond simple delays, failed planning or communication, things can sometimes get dicey at the loading dock: There are clear rules at Sites and yet accidents can happen due to clumsiness. Personnel fall, trucks hit each other or cargo falls off the truck. Here it is important to train the personnel properly - to avoid accidents and to know what to do if something does happen. And robots, which are playing an increasingly important role at Sites , can also be faulty.  

Complexity with multiple supply partners

Another challenge of time window management is the complexity of the supply partners. As soon as it is not just a matter of coordination between suppliers and the company, but other parties such as logistics service providers, freight forwarders or internal stakeholders are added, the traditional Time slot management reaches its limits. One example of such a complex relationship is SportScheck and FIEGE. In the past, they had major problems with communication and delivery coordination, but were able to solve them with an optimized platform.

Goals of the optimized time slot management

But why bother? The Time slot management pursues several goals at once.

Objectives in optimizing time window management:

  • Reduction of idle times: Ideally, Time slot management leads to a reduction in truck idle time - and thus to lower demurrage charges. The satisfaction of truck drivers and forwarders increases.
  • Optimized utilization at the loading dock: The resources of the warehouse operation are used ideally, the space on site as well as the labor of the employees. There are no indirect costs due to waiting times.  
  • Increase in storage capacity: Plannable and reliable handling at the loading bay means that the storage spaces thus freed up more quickly can be used by other goods - storage capacity increases.
  • On-time delivery: Smooth operations at the loading dock ensure on-time delivery of goods to the end consumer, resulting in higher customer satisfaction and repurchase rates.
  • Supply of production: It is not only the end consumer who benefits: Intermediate warehouses can also supply producers punctually with goods they need to produce goods on time.

There are many key figures in logistics that would benefit from an optimized Time slot management . In addition to the hard numbers, stress decreases, the satisfaction of internal and external partners increases, and the stability of the supply chain increases.

Time slot management optimize with software: TradeLink

The traditional Time slot management is still expandable. Once a company has committed to a tool, it is important that as many delivery partners as possible also use this tool and notify all deliveries. Only in this way is a good Time slot management really possible for the respective company and at the same time gives all booking delivery partners the reliability they need. However, there are some factors that will prevent some partners from jumping on the bandwagon of the traditional Time slot management tool. For example, it is extremely important that process works smoothly and that the added value for the delivery partners themselves is clearly recognizable. Furthermore, the user-friendliness should be increased and forwarders should be able to follow the processes in real time.

To overcome the challenges of time window management, we have developed a platform that optimizes the entire delivery process. Information can be shared in real time and delivery changes are immediately shared with everyone involved. Through these and other features, all parties can better manage their time and use staff more efficiently. At the same time, the handling of the software is designed extra simple to convince as many partners as possible and get them on board.  

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