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Imagine you wake up to find yourself transformed into a truck driver in the US.

You grab your cup of coffee and rush to your first appointment to load some packages from a warehouse. You’re on time, but have been asked to wait for several hours in the parking lot for your deliveries.

What’s worse is you’re made to wait frequently without any pay. If you feel frustrated, that’s the grave reality that drivers face everyday.

Every minute under the roof waiting to hit the road is bad for end customers, bad for drivers who don’t get paid, and bad for business if customers start to lose their trust en masse.

But there’s a fix. Let’s drive in!

What is time under the roof?

The total time that drivers have to wait at warehouses while loading or unloading packages is called time under the roof. All Courier, Express and Parcel (CEP) businesses express time under the roof in terms of metrics like dwell time and detention time.

Dwell time is the minimum amount of time that drivers have to spend to drop-off or pick up loads from warehouses or fulfillment centers. But detention time is the time spent beyond dwell time at warehouses to load/unload packages.

If dwell time is within the set threshold limit of a company, then:

Time under the roof = Dwell time

But when dwell time increases beyond a threshold limit, then it is counted as detention time.

Time under the roof = Dwell time + detention time

CEP businesses should make sure that dwell time stays within their set threshold limits for drivers to be more productive. If dwell time breaches that limit, then any extra time becomes detention time, which kills productivity of fleet drivers.

If time under the roof should be low, dwell time should stay within the threshold and this threshold varies between businesses.

Time under the roof:
The biggest threat to driver satisfaction

The CEP industry is now going through a transformative stage and its growth prospects are looking bright. A survey stated that the global package shipping volume was 159 billion packages in 2021, and this number is expected to shoot up to 256 billion packages in 2027.

While this is good news for the growth of the industry overall, experts and industry stakeholders believe that a shortage of drivers might lead to a capacity crunch for fulfilling these orders. But Mr. David Correll from the MIT FrieghtLab shares a different perspective.

Dr David mentions that longer wait times for drivers at warehouses has resulted in under-utilization of their time. He highlighted that out of 11 hours of driving that is legally allowed for commercial truck drivers in the United States in a day, they spend a maximum of six and a half hours on the road. From these numbers, it is obvious that drivers are forced to spend 41% of total driving hours as idle time or time under the roof waiting at the warehouses to load and unload packages.

And when time under the roof eats up your drivers time, it increases pressure to make on-time deliveries. This rush for making deliveries on time results in crashes too. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) survey mentions that a 15 minute increase in time spent by trucks waiting at a facility, increases expected average crash rate by 6.2%.

Another critical aspect is, drivers don’t get paid for the time they wait at the receivers. Even if some carriers charge for time under the roof, they don’t get paid enough to cover the cost of driver’s lost time.

Overall, increasing time under the roof negatively impacts your drivers’ productivity and morale, leading to a fall in driver retention. If you are a CEP business looking to improve driver retention, then you must seriously focus on reducing driver detention.

What can CEP businesses do to reduce the time under the roof?

With increased order volumes and rising last-mile complexities, managing driver productivity has become a grueling task. Today, every second your driver spends on the road counts as it makes a big difference in your business growth.

A burning question for all CEP businesses is what to do to minimize the time under the roof. Read on to find out what steps your businesses should take to cut the rising time under the roof.

Looking to bring down the time under the roof?

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Make use of analytical insights

A pre-pandemic study highlighted that the detention time reduces drivers’ annual earnings to $1.1 or $1.3 billion. This results in reduction of drivers’ average annual income between 3 and 3.6%.

How do we bridge this gap of drivers' incomes caused by time under the roof? The answer lies in data.

It becomes difficult to track and measure time under the roof without the help of data. Let’s say that delayed arrivals for a couple of trucks are increasing time under the roof for other vehicles. If you want to know why delayed arrivals are increasing and solve for it, you need strong analytics capabilities to bring out the hidden inefficiencies.

Using technologies like dispatch management software, you can identify analytical insights on driver arrival time, wait times, and time the truck leaves the warehouse. This data helps you plan vehicle and driver shifts, and prevent delays in advance. It even helps you account for probable rainy days, holidays, and sick days, and secure delivery capacity when it’s most needed.

With its comprehensive insights on driver/vehicle level, dispatch management software helps you find if drivers are on time to the warehouse after completing their trips. This helps you rework the driver schedules efficiently and reduce the time under the roof.

Want to leverage analytics to minimize time under the roof?

Schedule a demo now!

Optimize routes and schedules

Earlier, many CEP businesses tried to provide appointments to truck drivers to minimize inefficiencies in delivery management, which did little good.

Every vehicle might deal with hundreds of deliveries and loading them definitely takes time. If your sorting process is inefficient, it will increase the number of vehicles lined up outside your warehouse.

It is critical to reduce the sorting time and make it more efficient to minimize the time under the roof. But how’s it possible? By optimizing the routes and driver schedules, you can maximize sorting efficiency.

What happens when you optimize driver schedules and routes?

  • Your driver check-in time gets aligned with customer-preferred time windows
  • Assign loads to drivers in certain delivery zones that needs first preference
  • Plan return check-in times of drivers in advance and prepare loads for it
  • Minimizes the chances of missed deliveries for subsequent trips

If all this has to happen, then you should ensure that the route planning is efficient and accurate.
When route planning is inefficient or manual, your drivers find it exhausting to complete their delivery targets over a time.

By using a route optimization software, you can plan routes so that your drivers have plenty of time to complete their deliveries. As your drivers deliver parcels on time, they can get back to the warehouse at the expected queue time. Beyond increasing the on-time delivery rates, route optimization software improves the predictability of drivers’ arrival times to your warehouses.

Do you want to know how to improve your on-time delivery performance?

Read it here

Improve visibility and communication

Let’s say you receive complaints from customers regularly over delayed deliveries. As you backtracked, you found that the busiest time at the warehouse is the primary reason for these delays.

To know more about these frequent delivery delays induced by increased time under the roof, you ask some crucial questions.

  • Which delivery zone received the most number of customer complaints?
  • What are the vehicles that caused these delays?
  • Which loading/unloading time slot in a warehouse is contributing majorly to delivery delays?
  • How frequently do drivers demand a change in schedules due to unforeseen circumstances like severe weather, accidents, traffic congestion, vehicle issues, or roadblocks?

Well, the answer for all these above questions lies in visibility and communication!

With improved visibility and communication, you can easily monitor the current status of the load and its wait times. It improves collaboration between your dispatchers,warehouse executives, and fleet drivers. Even if there are any changes in the driver check-in times due to unforeseen circumstances, you can factor them into your load assignment. This helps you plan and reschedule loading/unloading time in advance, so that you can minimize the time under the roof.

Want to know how Locus can boost your profits?

Less hours on the road + Less time under roof + Maximum deliveries = Locus Dispatch Management Platform

It sounds like an overstatement, but it is true: drivers are your last-mile warriors. When you don’t plan, track, and optimize the time under the roof, your drivers get dissatisfied. Increasing dissatisfaction among drivers results in higher driver attrition. As a result, it makes driver retention more challenging.

The best way to counter time under the roof issues for your drivers is by investing in a technology like dispatch management platform.

Locus is an integrated dispatch management platform that specializes in solving the issues arising in last-mile logistics. Its dynamic algorithms and insights help you effectively plan, track, and schedule the wait times of trucks in warehouses. Its route optimization feature generates delivery routes that maximize deliveries and enables your drivers to spend less hours on the road, and minimize the time under the roof.

With a parcel sorting module integrated with geocoding, Locus’ dispatch management platform helps you predict loading/unloading time based on which zone order needs to be delivered first. This helps you effectively plan and prioritize the return check-in times of drivers at warehouses, thereby minimizing time under the roof.

Is time under the roof making your logistics operations costly and complex?

Schedule a demo now!
Walter Heil

About the author

Walter Heil

Walter Heil is Senior Vice President - Developed Markets at Locus. He is responsible for the company’s business expansion across the Americas and Europe. He has over three decades of experience in successfully building and executing growth strategies for leading technology companies in Transportation Management, Logistics, and Supply Chain Management for companies like Sterling Commerce, IBM and BluJay.



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How can Locus help manage your logistics?

  • Locus’ proprietary geocoding engine converts the fuzziest of the addresses into precise geographical coordinates thereby helping your on-ground executives locate addresses easily.
  • Digitize all your operational variables such as fleets, delivery persons etc. to come up with the best route plan every day.
  • Track your orders in real-time with the Locus Live Dashboard. Locus’ last-mile delivery app Locus On The Road (LOTR) helps delivery partners process orders.
  • Visualize and tweak your scheduled plans via three key metrics— geography, time, & vehicle (fleet)—with a birds-eye view of your entire operations.
  • Build your own reports and analyze important parameters that you need to make key decisions.

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