Logistics
17/8/2022

Why carriers don't use your time slot management software

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Time slot software often has the reputation of sounding great in theory but not working in practice because delivery partners such as suppliers, carriers or the company's own customers do not accept the software. So it quickly happens that time window management is introduced, but deliveries are still made via Excel, telephone or even fax by the majority of delivery partners. Just "the way we have always done it".

This creates a lot of additional work, because a lot of work has already been put into the often complex implementation and now there is an additional system that contains some, but not all, deliveries or collections.

But why is it so difficult to convince delivery partners to use the time window management software? And is there a way to make it work better?  

The forwarder: extra work without benefits

To answer this question, it's best to start with the forwarder. Forwarders are under immense time and cost pressure and usually have to plan many different routes in the early hours of the morning. It is therefore not difficult to understand that in such an environment, additional software introduced by a customer is not exactly welcomed with open arms.  

Especially since it is often not the first software for time window management. Especially large corporate customers often push their own proprietary system through to all delivery partners. Thus, in addition to the classic Excel & telephone chaos, there are often 2-3 time window systems of the large corporate customers, which are not exactly known for their user-friendliness. Thus, at the beginning there is usually a lengthy process for account creation, only to go through a process with numerous clicks for each simple booking - of course everything in the most modern SAP R3 look 😉.

So let's keep in mind that for the forwarder, the customer's new software initially only means more fragmentation of the existing system landscape. Especially since classic time slot management software also does not cover any insights about the actual situation at the yard. Questions like:

  • Was my driver able to keep the booked time slot?
  • Is the time window respected by the supplied company?
  • Can I guarantee on-time delivery of all subsequent stops?

Can often only be answered by calling the driver. If this call is made, the frustration is often even greater. Despite booking via the system and adherence to the time window, unloading is delayed because there are still 2 other trucks in the queue that have not booked a delivery via the system. This not only delays the current transport, but also creates immense coordination effort for all subsequent transports. Thus, the attitude that you are at a disadvantage if you book a time slot and that you will obviously be unloaded without a time slot quickly spreads among all forwarders.  

Automated check-in can also save a lot of valuable time at the gate.

Collaboration platforms are the future

If you put yourself in the position of the forwarder, it quickly becomes clear why traditional time slot management software does not deliver the promised benefits: forwarders have no advantage whatsoever from the software and therefore do not use it. Of course, logistics managers know this too, since they are in close contact with their forwarders and sympathize with their situation.  

So how can things be better? The key to success clearly lies in ensuring that the proportion of registered deliveries per warehouse exceeds a critical point. In our experience, this is around 80%. From then on, both the company's own logistics benefit from better processes, resulting in faster unloading and fewer stressed employees. Forwarders clearly benefit from faster throughput times, which is directly reflected in their margins and is very easy to measure. Another advantage is the significantly faster handling and more precise planning of tours, without much rescheduling stress in between.  

Read here: How hidden champion DEBATIN managed to have over 90% of all incoming goods registered.

We are convinced that there are 3 important levers that can be used to increase the acceptance of your own software by carriers.  

1. a collaborative approach

Time slot software must be thought of collaboratively, i.e., not only increase the added value for one's own site logistics, but also for all delivery partners - and this is best done in a measurable way. Only when the forwarder notices that he measurably saves time and costs through registration will he accept the software and be happy to use it. Collaborative software can achieve this by transparently measuring the following key figures:

  • Average discharge time
  • Compliance with the booked time window in percent
  • Average deviation of the planned time window

Through transparent communication of these key figures, the added value of the software quickly becomes tangible for everyone and can be reflected in very tangible cost reductions in the next annual meeting between logistics and freight forwarder.  

2. simple and intuitive user interface

Due to the enormous time pressure of carriers, a collaborative time slot management system must have an intuitive user interface. One way to achieve this is to make the software feel like the one on your own smartphone.  

At the same time, the number of clicks and process steps must be kept as low as possible. If you have to start the process over again for every single load carrier or don't have efficient coordination processes in the software for deadline changes, these will only slow down the forwarder.  

Even the creation of an account is often still mandatory with traditional time slot software, but offers no added value. Personalized links, for example, can already transmit this information, the dispatcher just has to click it.  

3. high penetration in the market

Ultimately, everything stands and falls with the distribution of the software on the market. That is why it makes little sense for companies to try to impose their own software solution, which cannot be applied to other companies, on their suppliers and carriers.

The fact that a collaborative software solution can actively spread in the market can be seen, for example, at the Swiss discount chain Denner, which is part of the Migros Group. There, TradeLink was rolled out to all locations after active demand from suppliers and forwarders.

"Shortly after the rollout at the first site, our suppliers already wanted us to quickly roll out TradeLink to all other sites as well. It's simply a win-win for everyone. TradeLink is therefore now going live as standard at all sites." - Patrick Spiegel Project Manager Logistics.

Traditional time window software is often simply too short-thought and often cannot deliver the promised benefits in practice. It is necessary to think in terms of partnership solutions, which exceeds the functional scope of time window management systems:

  • Real-time reporting
  • Communication via the platform with all internal and external partners
  • Central storage of all important files such as delivery bills
  • Connection to existing ERP and TMS systems
  • Uvm.

As a result, software vendors are talking about a new category: Collaboration platforms. Only through a collaborative approach can usage by all delivery partners and the promised successes be met in a measurable way.

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