What is detention?

Detention is when a carrier is detained—hence the name “detention”—at a shipper’s or receiver’s while they are waiting to be loaded or unloaded. After a certain amount of time (usually after two hours), the carrier will request a detention fee for the delay. So obviously, it’s something you want to avoid in order to save money.

How can you minimize the amount of detention in your supply chain?

There are a several ways you can reduce detention time.

One of the reasons for detention can stem from ineffective scheduling. If a shipment isn’t ready to go when the pickup time arrives, or if you don’t have enough lumpers scheduled, the driver might be forced to wait. Optimizing your scheduling process is one way to increase efficiency to help eliminate detention.

Similarly, you can help make sure drivers are on-time. Drivers missing appointment times could have a domino effect on the rest of the schedule, or could lead to those late drivers not being helped until the shipper or receiver’s next convenient opportunity. With proper route planning and scheduling, you can make sure drivers have plenty of time to make their appointments. If you’d like to spend less time coordinating appointments, a 3PL might be a good option because they often take care of that for you as part of the load process.

Another thing you can do is increase visibility in your supply chain process. With various tracking options and strong communication, you can see exactly where your shipment is and anticipate when you’ll need it unloaded and loaded. Working with a 3PL can often provide increased visibility, as the logistics service providers can devote the necessary time and resources to getting location updates on each load. At RTS, we offer some tracking solutions that you can read more about here.

Additionally, you can extend the hours of your facilities. Truck drivers do not follow a 9-to-5 (and neither do we—RTS is open 24/7), and so flexible hours would result in more opportunities to schedule pickup and delivery appointments.

Finally, just keep your carrier or broker informed. It may seem obvious, but if your facility has special instructions associated with pickup or delivery, letting the carrier or broker know this in advance can help avoid confusion once they get there.

Hopefully these tips will help decrease your detention time, because your supply chain goals can be attainable when your shipments aren’t detainable!