FourKites’ research takes long look at COVID-19-related delays and dwell times

Date: Thursday, April 9, 2020
Source: Logistics Management

Data recently issued by Chicago-based FourKites, a provider of real-time tracking and visibility solutions across transportation modes and digital platforms, highlights the difficulties being encountered at facilities—located in the United States and Europe—in dealing with increased shipment volumes resultant of meeting coronavirus- (or COVID-19) related demand. 

Data recently issued by Chicago-based FourKites, a provider of real-time tracking and visibility solutions across transportation modes and digital platforms, highlights the difficulties being encountered at facilities—located in the United States and Europe—in dealing with increased shipment volumes resultant of meeting coronavirus- (or COVID-19) related demand.

Looking at the months of February and March, FourKites Chief Technology Office Vivek Vaid observed in a blog post that extended dwell time saw significant gains. From February to March, Vaid noted that there was a 24% increase in late loads, due to extended dwell times, which he defined as the time spent waiting at facilities for pickups and at intermediate stops, “which has repercussions up and down the supply chain.”

What’s more, the Four Kites’ executive explained that based on a recent analysis of the company’s platform data, facilities are seeing myriad challenges to efficiently process the surge in shipment volume, which has seen delays for not only U.S.- and European-based truckers but also front-line workers are facilities. And he added that the company analyzes relevant transit data to identify and rank the supporting reasons related as to why a load may be delayed, with a focus on various drivers causing shipment delays, including controllable factors such as pickup and external factors such as weather, traffic, and facility congestion, as well as macro factors such as border congestion.

Other key data points identified by FourKites included:

  • an increase in re-entry delays, due to when a driver is on time to a destination but is turned away an sent to a designated wait area, with drivers turned away 36% more frequently in March compared to February;
  • an increase in impractical appointment scheduling, with unachievable appointment times up 18% in March compared to February, with the company noting that while providing guidance on scheduled appointment times is critical in normal times, is now viewed as futile, due to facilities currently focusing on execution and taking shipments on a first-come, first-served basis;
  • goods are now moving faster in transit, with average shipment times 2% faster in the U.S. and Europe, from February to March, which it said is likely because of lower traffic levels and, in the U.S., the FMCSA’s emergency waiver regarding HOS regulations

In an interview, Glenn Koepke, VP, Network Enablement at FourKites, explained that increased shipping volumes are stretching food & beverage and consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers thin due to warehouse operation capacity constraints.

“These constraints are contingent on the overall throughput in number of shipments per day, which take into account number of dock doors, employee picking capacity, loading times, product complexity, and truck arrival and departure processing,” he said. “Many companies were starting to see an increase in demand as the spring was coming, but the COVID crisis came so suddenly that supply chains didn't have enough time to plan ahead and immediately became reactionary to the market. Warehouses can typically stretch to 110% of normal capacity with limited negative impact; however, they are now being stretched significantly higher, which means more product to pick, more potential for manufacturing delays, and more trucks in the queue to process. This leads to dwell time. One of the most common themes you're hearing from industry experts now is that supply chains that are leveraging real-time visibility solutions like FourKites are well ahead of the curve in terms of keeping their operations running.”

When asked what processes, or best practices, can be implemented to help facilities reduce extended dwell times, Koepke said that in a time of crisis, the U.S. has realized that truck drivers, warehouse operators and those in production are “heroes on the front lines,” adding that a warm welcome and basic amenities go a long way at a time when drivers are asked to keep at a distance and normal facilities aren't available to them.

And In terms of reducing dwell times, he offered up three primary suggestions, including:

  1. Utilize an appointment scheduling process for both inbound and outbound shipments. Creating a plan for when trucks are to arrive will help alleviate some of the basics where bottlenecks occur;
  2. Leverage real-time visibility software like FourKites to dynamically re-slot shipments when the driver is expected early or on-time. Why clog up a dock space for three hours waiting for a truck when you have another truck available who is 5 hours early to its appointment?; and
  3. Continuous improvement programs like Lean Six Sigma are a great way to document your end-to-end process, identify every step of waste and then prioritize those opportunities. This is a great way to get team members involved in addressing issues, feeling accountable to the overall process and maximizing the skills of your overall team

As for ways in which the percentage of impractical appointment scheduling can be lowered or improved, Koepke pointed to a few different things, including: the customer setting the appointment when placing it; the supplier assigns the appointment when the order is received; the carrier calls to schedule the appointment; and using a third party, in the form of a 3PL or an appointment scheduling service.

“Impractical appointments are both too much time considered and too short, and this is an issue lived every day by those in transportation operations,” he said. “To reduce impractical appointments, the first thing companies can do is measure performance. The old saying of ‘what you don't measure you don't care about’ applies here. Second is to have open collaboration between the carrier, supplier and customer. Real-time visibility aids these conversations and eliminates a significant amount of waste to create a common truth amongst all parties. Lastly, data science and machine learning tools have become very sophisticated to aid decision-making in real time. FourKites' Recommendation Engine provides shippers with a dashboard to see any appointment that is at risk based on transit hours and historical performance, and also gives shippers and carriers a shot clock as to when a load must depart by in order to meet the delivery requirements.” 


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