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The Real Expenses of Not Scheduling Your Inbound Deliveries

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” This phrase has been used countless times by decision makers at businesses and organizations of all sizes, including distribution centers, warehouses, manufacturing plants and other facilities that rely on supply-chain processes to operate effectively. For many of these locations, operational procedures have remained unchanged for years, despite advancements in technology or new tactics for improving on-site efficiency. Old habits can be tough to break, and so can the mindset of how best to manage on-site operations, especially if the processes in place appear to be working.

The ultimate goal of any business is profitability and success. If this goal is being accomplished (or perceived to be), a facility is not likely to really take a close look at how it’s operating and what can be improved upon. However, there may exist deficiencies in its supply chain links or overlooked processes that may play a bigger role in the overall effectiveness of on-site operations.

Case in point: the impact of not scheduling inbound deliveries and shipments.

Scheduling the delivery times and assigning specific loading doors, bays and doors would seem like a necessary link in the supply chain. However, for some facilities, the physical delivery of merchandise, products and other items is the only component of this segment of the supply chain. Shipments arrive without a pre-scheduled delivery time or assigned docking spot. And while this method may appear on the surface to be sufficient for some locations, one need only look at the impact unscheduled deliveries can have on overall on-site operations to see the true value accurate delivery scheduling brings.

Among the expenses a lack of a delivery-scheduling process can create include:

  • Worker pay and overtime. Not knowing when deliveries will arrive can create a staffing nightmare. Between deliveries, employees may be waiting idling by for the next shipment, without other tasks to work on. On the opposite spectrum, a large number of delivery trucks all arriving at the same can force the dock manager or supervisor to extend on-site workers’ hours—resulting in overtime—or call in additional staff to assist with the unloading. Requiring scheduled delivery times and assigning docks, doors and bays to carriers makes it easier to plan staff schedules, ensuring that the adequate number of workers are on-site for the scheduled deliveries and reducing the occurrence of overtime pay.
  • Detention charges. While these can occur even when a delivery is scheduled, disputing these can be much easier if a proven scheduling process is in place at the facility. This is especially true if it’s managed through an online scheduling application or other manner in which arrival and departure times are accurately tracked. Considering the often-high detention fees carriers charge, the lack of a proper scheduling process usually results in the carrier’s word against yours when it comes to the time its trucks spent at the dock, bay or door. By automatically recording these within a scheduling system, a facility can show precisely when trucks arrive and department, thereby helping it dispute these additional and unnecessary expenses.
  • Missed or delayed deliveries. If a facility is staffed continually 24/7 or isn’t impacted when shipments never arrive or are late, then this is not an issue. For the rest of the facilities that depend on on-time deliveries in order to meet their own deadlines and orders, it’s vitally important that deliveries arrive on-time. While scheduling deliveries does not guarantee that all will arrive on time, it significantly reduces the likelihood of missed and delayed shipments. Additionally, it can also hold both the facility and carrier accountable for the delivery.

Aside from monetary expenditures, other expenses that can arise by not scheduling deliveries include worker stress and the environmental impact of idling trucks releasing emissions into the atmosphere, which can result from long lines and wait times.

Every link in a supply chain has its own important role. And while oftentimes overlooked, something as simple as scheduling deliveries can have a tremendous impact on overall operations.

Just because something isn’t “broke” doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be improved upon.


About the Author: Eric Richard is the senior technology writer at Appointment-Plus (, the worldwide experts in online scheduling solutions and creators of the most flexible and feature-rich software application used by distributors, warehouses, manufacturers and other material-handling facilities to manage their deliveries. The online scheduling application has booked over 100 million appointments and reservations since 2001.