How shippers benefit from time slot management software

Bastian Späth, CEO/Vorstand EIKONA AG
Four trucks are standing at the ramp of a freight forwarder and are loaded on time thanks to time window management

Shippers who want to streamline their shipping processes can reap big efficiency gains from time slot management. Companies can use software to manage operations in production or their warehouse to minimise waiting times for trucks and their drivers. Shippers in industry and commerce can benefit from this kind of solution just as much as freight forwarders. After all, coordinating service providers improves all the processes for loading goods onto vehicles for transport.

Although "time slot management" describes a process that optimises the loading or unloading process for everyone, it tends to have a bad reputation among freight forwarders. This is because, for some time now, they have had to reserve time slots at the docks at many loading points in advance when planning their transports, which is an extra step that they have to do. In addition, some have had unpleasant experiences with individual companies that are very rigid about time slot management – turning brief delays into long waiting times until a new time slot became available at the very end of a long chain. However, both shippers' mindsets and software management tools have evolved significantly.

By reserving time slots, logistics companies help loading companies optimise and manage processes at loading docks. However, freight forwarders can also benefit from a time slot solution as long as it is used intelligently. These programs help improve the quality of loading dock processes. Time slot management will help in:

  • Coordinating service providers
  • Scheduling time slots
  • Assigning loading docks

By taking on these tasks, the software frees up shippers to adapt their distribution logistics to their production demands.

What is time slot management?

Time slot management usually refers to software that regulates loading times for freight forwarders at the docks of production facilities and warehouses operated by manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers. It is intended to structure planning and thus reduce waiting times. Depending on the industry, it can be used for the collection or delivery of goods. The shipper or consignee defines fixed time slots for loading goods at a dock in the application. Logistics service providers can use this digital timetable to inform their trip planning. At the same time, shippers delegate to the carriers the obligation to reserve appropriate time slots for their transport orders. Time slot management thus stands at the threshold between intralogistics and distribution logistics and aims to improve process quality along the value chain through better coordination.

Why time window management benefits all stakeholders

By setting up a schedule and assigning time slots, companies establish a sound basis for managing loading and unloading processes at their site. They avoid process disruptions caused by trucks arriving at random times and prevent traffic jams at their plant gates. This minimises the risk of delays in their operations. This, in turn, benefits the truck drivers picking up the shipments. They can rely on being able to start transports on time. This method of coordinating service providers also helps to avoid delays further down the transport chain. After all, standing and waiting times would delay all the downstream steps in the value chain as well.

Time slot management as a fast management tool

Time slot management software solutions help users with planning and management in two ways. Using data on company resources such as docks, opening hours and number of employees, they automatically propose schedules that serve as the starting point for allocating time slots. In addition, these versatile systems can respond to delays in truck arrivals by automatically modifying plans to still process the total number of shipments in the shortest possible time. This also prevents vehicles from having to go to the very back of the line if they miss their reserved time slot.


Time slot management supports integrated logistics

The more tightly integrated transport chains are, the more time slot management benefits everyone: shippers, truck drivers, freight forwarders, carriers, and consignees. After all, their plans can be disrupted by even small delays at the start. Used intelligently, time slots enable structured planning and coordination across company boundaries. This is a plus that benefits shippers from all industries, and logistics service providers in particular.

Bastian Späth
Bastian Späth

As a college-educated computer scientist, Bastian Späth understands how IT solutions are developed from the ground up. For more than 15 years, he has spent every workday collecting requirements, finding ideas, developing designs, setting up projects and getting them safely across the finish line.

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